It’s been called one of the worst cases of government abuse ever committed against a homeschooling family: the abduction by Swedish authorities of Domenic Johansson, a happy, healthy, 7-year-old boy taken from his parents, Christer and Annie, in 2009 as they waited to leave Sweden on a flight to India. After the abduction, the Johanssons’ story spread quickly on the Internet. But three years later, Domenic is still being kept from his parents, and Swedish authorities keep finding new reasons for why the child can’t go home. “This is about the most fundamental right you have. You have the right to your own children, or you should have,” Christer told CBN News during the first television interview he and his wife have given since their only child’s abduction. In 2008, Christer and Annie were making plans to leave Sweden for humanitarian work in Annie’s native India. They decided it would be best for Domenic to be homeschooled during the final months before their departure, rather than enroll him in public school. Christer says Sweden’s Ministry of Education told him they could homeschool, but local officials levied steep fines and threatened the couple to discourage them from doing so. Then, as the parents sat on a plane at Stockholm airport for their scheduled trip to India, police came aboard and took Domenic away. According to Christer, the couple was supposed to have Domenic back a few days later. But when they went to pick him up, authorities had decided Domenic was “at risk” because he had cavities and did not have every recommended vaccination. They also noted he was shy. Gotland Social Services then found more problems, claiming the Johanssons’ home didn’t have enough furniture and that Christer was a drug addict with a mental illness, even though he passed a drug test and psychiatric examination. Social Services said Domenic was developmentally delayed, although videos show him flying a plane on a flight simulator before being abducted at age 7, and also speaking clear English. Authorities were also disturbed that Domenic was too affectionate with other children, greeting his friends with a hug and kiss on the cheek. They called this “deviant behavior.” Christer said authorities have resisted all attempts to reunite the family. And evidence showing that the pair are good parents has been ignored. “It doesn’t matter if we have professors or doctors to speak for us. It just doesn’t matter,” he said.
- The construction of a massive adult entertainment facility called Get It is a big cause for concern in the small village of Stone Park, Ill. The 18,000-square-foot facility, which the owner says is not a strip club but rather a cabaret with nudity, is being built just a few feet away from a convent. Unhappy locals are now banding together to get rid of the cabaret and take their community in a new direction, and they are doing so through prayer. Rudy Lopez is one of the organizers of a prayer march and candlelight vigil. Lopez, who is a professional organizer and usually works on immigration reform issues, was asked by some Stone Park residents to speak with the Sisters at St. Charles Borromeo about the adult entertainment business that is being built next door. “As I got more involved, I got more attached to the issue and to the community and to the people there,” said Lopez in an interview with The Christian Post. There are already six adult-theme establishments in the small town of about 5,000 people, not counting bars, Lopez says. The upcoming prayer vigil isn’t just about Get It’s construction, he says; it’s about taking the town back and getting it started in a new direction. Peter Breen is the executive director and legal counsel for the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based legal organization that has offered to provide the village free legal help if they should choose to fight against the completion of the cabaret.
- A house church in far west China’s region of Xinjiang that has been meeting for nearly two decades was raided Sunday by police, who took more than 70 Christians into custody, reports chinaaid.org. The house church has been meeting for nearly 20 years. Announcing that the meeting was an “unapproved, illegal meeting,” the officers “order[ed] an immediate end to the meeting.” After forcing each Christian there to be photographed, they took them to police stations for questioning. Some were not released for two days. The police also confiscated the group’s Bibles, hymnals, notebooks, Christian education DVDs, and other materials, but refused to provide a receipt for the confiscated items as required by law. The pastor and his wife, hosts of the Sunday meeting, were called into the local police station again on Monday night for further questioning. They were threatened by the police, who ordered them to stop holding meetings in their home. ChinaAid says it calls for an end to this gross interference into the religious freedom of the citizens of Xinjiang.
- A suit brought by Tennessee parents arguing that a principal violated their son’s religious rights by stopping him from being involved in an on-campus Bible study has failed in an appeals court. A three-judge panel from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that Luke Whitson’s rights were not violated when the principal of Karns Elementary School in Knox County told him that he should not participate in a Bible study during recess. Jonathan Scruggs, Alliance Defense Fund Litigation Staff Counsel who represented the Whitson family in court, told The Christian Post that he was “disappointed with the ruling.” “But it’s important to note that the 6th Circuit did agree with us that errors were made in the jury trial. The 6th Circuit just ruled that those errors were ‘harmless’ and did not necessarily affect the outcome of the jury’s decision,” said Scruggs. Back in 2004, Luke Whitson, then in fourth grade, would meet with friends during recess to read and talk about the Bible. However, a parent complained about their activity, resulting in Principal Cathy Summa meeting with some of the students who participated in the study. The school district was taken to court, as the Whitsons and the ADF argued that the school had violated the religious rights of their son. According to a statement released by Summa, her intentions were not to deny the students the right to hold a Bible study during recess but rather to tell them that she did not believe it “was appropriate during the school day.” “While we do not discourage students from reading at recess, I think that a daily planned activity that is stationary or physically static in nature defeats the real purpose of recess,” said Summa. “The purpose is to give students an opportunity to have some physical activity during the school day.” According to the Knox County Board of Education’s policy on religious expression, “Students and employees can engage in expression of personal religious views or beliefs within the parameters of current law. Knox County Schools neither advances nor inhibits religion.” Scruggs was doubtful that Knox County’s policy was enough. “We think it is completely vague whether Knox County has the ability and/or desire to protect the religious liberty of its students,” said Scruggs. “And that is part of the problem with the 6th Circuit’s opinion – it could potentially embolden Knox County to repeat its past behavior and to restrict students’ rights.” As to whether or not there will be an appeal, Scruggs told CP that he was still mulling over the option and had not yet come to a decision.
- Utah’s governor signed a law on Tuesday extending a required waiting period for women seeking an abortion to 72 hours, even though a similar requirement in South Dakota has been blocked in court, reports yahoo.com. The decision by Gov. Gary Herbert (R.) is expected to meet with approval from social conservatives in the heavily Republican state just four days after he upset some members of his party by vetoing a bill to curb sex education in schools. “Governor Herbert is an adamant supporter of rights for the unborn,” said Ally Isom, a spokeswoman for the governor. “He felt the bill appropriately allows a woman who’s facing that decision to fully weigh her options and the implications of that decision.” The state currently requires a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. The law is the latest salvo in the long-running national battle over abortion that has seen a host of states pass laws imposing requirements on women before they can undergo the procedure. In neighboring Idaho, lawmakers are considering requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before ending a pregnancy. A South Dakota law that passed last year also required women seeking an abortion to wait three days before having the procedure, but the state’s Planned Parenthood group sued in federal court saying the law violated the equal protection and due process rights of women.
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could use her influence to prevent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) from gaining the top position on the Appropriations Committee due to Kaptur’s opposition to government funding for abortion services, reports The Christian Post. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) are both challenging Kaptur for the post, which is one of the most powerful in the House, The Hill reports. Kaptur was next in line for the post, but she has made several moves to upset some of her colleagues, including Pelosi, in recent years. Kaptur was one of the leading Democrats, along with Bart Stupak (Mich.), to hold up the Affordable Care Act (2010), sometimes called Obamacare, until changes were made that were intended to prevent public funding of abortion. Kaptur is pro-choice but opposes government funding of abortion. Under House rules, all government funding decisions must first be passed by the Appropriations Committee before going to the Rules Committee and the House floor. That committee has, therefore, powerful influence on the issue of government funding for abortion, or government funding for abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood. National Right to Life Committee gives Kaptur a score of only 14 percent, meaning she voted in favor of pro-life legislation 14 percent of the time in the current Congress, but Lowey and Moran each have 0 percent. Kaptur also joined some her colleagues in 2010 who elected to wait until after the November elections to decide if Pelosi would keep her position as the House Democrat’s top leader. Committee chairmanships are typically assigned by seniority, but there are some exceptions. The Democratic caucus will select the committee chairs, but Pelosi’s influence could determine the outcome. There is no word yet on whether Pelosi will seek to punish Kaptur for her lack of party loyalty. Kaptur recently won her primary election against Dennis Kucinich. The two House Democrats were matched against each other after their districts were combined due to redistricting. In the general election, she will face off against Republican Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber” after his videotaped encounter with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama went viral.
- “Homosexual activists don’t want equal rights, they want privileged rights. They want their lifestyle to set the norm for everyone else and that even includes language used in official and legal documents,” according to a report in godfatherpolitics.com. A coalition “has been putting pressure on the British government to do away with gender specific terms on official and legal documents, and it seems they are on the verge of getting their way. British Prime Minister David Cameron just released a consultation paper with suggested reforms including the intent to open ‘civil marriage’ to gay and lesbian couples. The term ‘religious marriage’ will only be used for traditional couples consisting of a man and a woman. If the reforms are passed, official documents such as marriage licenses will be changed to remove the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ and replace them with ‘spouses’ and ‘partners’. They are even discouraging the use of ‘bride’ and ‘bridegroom’ so as not to offend any gay or lesbian couple. The use of the new terminology will undoubtedly cost the British government and private companies millions of dollars as they will be given a specific period of time to convert their paperwork, databases and websites. After that grace period, businesses will find themselves in violation of the new laws and you can bet your bottom shilling that gay activists will be searching everywhere for violators so they can report them.”