Photo by Petros3 (Wikipedia Commons)

The island nation of Cyprus made headlines, and rattled markets across the Western world, by announcing a raid on private bank accounts this week, reports Human Events. The original plan called for seizing 6.75 percent of every account below 100,000 Euros, and 9.9 percent of every account containing more. As public outrage grew, hasty plans were implemented to make the seizure more “progressive,” along lines familiar to just about every citizen of every democracy everywhere: the smallest depositors would be given a free ride, while even larger raids would be perpetrated against the “evil rich,” who, in this case, are largely foreigners. The government of Cyprus assiduously cultivated overseas bank business for years, drawing big deposits from Russians and well-heeled European retirees to their island. Even the bank accounts of British troops stationed in Cyprus will be raided, with the British government promising to compensate its citizens. “Where does the British government get its money again?” asked John Hayward, senior writer in Human Events. This is all happening as part of a ten billion Euro rescue plan—which, combined with the cash raked in from the great bank heist, will nearly equal the total value of the Cyprus economy. Cypriots are particularly angry because they’ve already contributed to bailouts for Ireland, Portugal, and Greece, which included no such corresponding raid on private bank accounts. Markets are nervous as investors fear other EU basket cases like Spain and Italy will stage their own bank raids. “And if this plan goes through, every depositor in the world will wonder when their bankrupt government might decide to step across the ‘red line’ Cypriots were assured their politicians, and European Union ministers, would never cross . . . until this weekend,” commented Hayward.

Other news:

  • Recently, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that homeschooling is not a parent’s right. It is a statement some are saying should frighten American parents, according to a cbn.com report: “Nations like Germany and Sweden show that when governments take away homeschooling rights, it’s a slippery slope to no parental rights.” The Romeike family came to the United States from Germany five years ago hoping to find refuge. They wanted to homeschool their children in freedom and a federal judge granted them asylum. But now the Obama administration has been trying to deport them, arguing that homeschooling is not a right. The case is currently before a federal appeals court. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike began homeschooling in Germany because they didn’t want their children exposed to things like witchcraft and graphic sex education that are taught in German schools. But homeschooling is illegal in Germany, except in rare cases. And many homeschooling parents are persecuted with fines, jail, or the loss of their children. Most homeschoolers in America are left alone. But what if state politicians and the federal government started to move against it? asked the report. Two of the worst nations for homeschoolers are Germany and Sweden. The head of the Swedish Homeschooling Association, Jonas Himmelstrand, had to take his family into exile. They fled to Finland. “We’re in exile. We were forced out of our country, and that makes a stronger impact than I can imagine,” he told CBN News. “This was our country. This was where we had our friends and business relationships and a whole lot of things and now we’re pushed away from it.” Attorney Michael Donnelly of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association called the situation “incredible for a nation like Sweden that calls itself a free nation, a democracy, so to speak.” Ruby Harrold-Claesson, president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, went even further, branding Sweden a dictatorship where social workers tell parents what to do. “Sweden claims to be a democracy but it’s far from it. It’s a dictatorship,” he said. “You have the social workers dictating how people are to live. You’re not supposed to be different. You’re not supposed to be different from anyone else in Sweden. Everyone is supposed to be uniform. They want to have these cookie cutter children.” Claesson is also the lawyer representing Christer and Annie Johansson, who have lost custody of their son Domenic, because of homeschooling. After Domenic was abducted by Swedish officials, Annie’s health began to fail. Christer said the stress of the ordeal is killing his wife. “If we cannot solve this issue soon, Domenic won’t have a mother anymore,” he said. Nations like Germany and Sweden could learn a thing or two about parent’s rights from, of all places, Russia, which is one of the freest nations in which to homeschool, the report said. “We have complete freedom of home education in Russia, in terms of legality,” Pavel Parfentiev, a family rights advocate in Russia, said. “The Russian Federation is sort of a champion of human rights in this particular area, so of course I think it is a good example for both Germany and Sweden where home educators are persecuted,” he said. Among the persecuted, German homeschooler Juergen Dudek has been taken to court every year for the past 10 years by the German Jugendamt, or Youth Office.
  • Ohio Sen. Rob Portman became the first sitting Republican U.S. senator to endorse same-sex marriage March 15, saying a development in his family led him to “wrestle” with his faith and decide that homosexuals should be allowed to marry, Baptist Press reports. In an opinion piece in The Columbus Dispatch, the senator said two years ago his son Will, who was a freshman at Yale University at the time, disclosed to his parents that he is gay. “He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is,” Portman wrote, adding that he and his wife, Jane, were proud of their son’s honesty and courage. “At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman,” Portman wrote. “Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press Portman is wrong on his application of Scripture. Said Land, “The Bible does not condone a homosexual lifestyle, either in a committed relationship or in an uncommitted one.” “The Christian faith, for over 2,000 years now, has said that the overarching theme of love and compassion tells homosexuals the truth, and that is that God does not condone or accept homosexual behavior. That is quite clear in the New Testament, as well as the Old,” Land said. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday said he can’t imagine changing his position on gay marriage even though Portman did just that, newsmax.com reports. “Listen, I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Boehner told interviewer Martha Raddatz. “It’s what I grew up with. It’s what I believe. It’s what my church teaches me. And—I can’t imagine that position would ever change.”
  • A growing number of states are moving forward with legislation to exempt them from new federal gun controls and, in some cases, brand as criminals anyone who tries to enforce them, reports thehill.com. While many of the bills are considered symbolic or appear doomed to fail, the legislative explosion reflects a backlash against legislative and regulatory efforts in Washington to tamp down on gun violence. As of this past week, at least 28 states had taken up consideration of gun bills this year, according to new data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 70 bills have been put forward in all. In other news, the National Rifle Association, which is battling a raft of gun control measures on Capitol Hill, also has an international fight on its hand as it gears up to oppose a U.N. treaty designed to restrict the flow of arms to conflict zones, washingtonpost.com reports. Negotiations opened Monday in New York on the Arms Trade Treaty, which would require countries to determine whether weapons they sell would be used to commit serious human rights violations, terrorism, or transnational organized crime. The gun lobby fears that the treaty would be used to regulate civilian weapons. Human rights activists counter that it would reduce the trafficking of weapons, including small arms such as the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, to outlaw regimes and rebel groups engaged in atrocities against civilian populations.
  • Weld County Sheriff John Cooke won’t enforce new Colorado state gun measures expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, arguing the proposed firearms restrictions give a “false sense of security,” reports Fox News. Lawmakers in Colorado on Friday approved a landmark expansion of background checks on firearm purchases. Earlier in the week, Colorado lawmakers approved a 15-round limit on ammunition magazines. Both measures are awaiting the expected approval of the governor. Cooke told GreeleyTribune.com that Democrats in the state legislature are uninformed and scrambling in response to the Aurora movie theater shooting and other recent tragedies. “They’re feel-good, knee-jerk reactions that are unenforceable,” he told the news outlet. The bill passed Friday expands cases when a $10 criminal background check would be required to legally transfer a gun. Republicans have opposed the bill, calling it an undue burden on law-abiding gun owners. Cooke said the proposed firearms transfer requirement would not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, according to the GreeleyTribune.com report. The sheriff told the news outlet that he and other county sheriffs “won’t bother enforcing” the laws because it won’t be possible to keep track of how gun owners are complying with the new requirements. Cooke is joined in his opposition to the proposals by El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who told an angry packed crowd at a meeting on Thursday in Colorado Springs he would stand firm against the bills.
  • Members of a community church in Paramus, N.J., are in a state of disbelief over the confiscation of their beloved church building, built and paid for by members of the church back in 1929, reports WorldNetDaily. Last Sunday, the body of believers of the Community Church of Faith and Hope, with a congregation closing in on 100 strong, met in the building for what appears to be the last time. Monday morning a locksmith hired by the Christian and Missionary Alliance locked the church members out of their building after the New Jersey Court of Appeals ruled that the denomination has every right to exercise a “reversionary” clause, and take the valuable property away from local members. Although the court ruling clearly gave the congregation until March 18 to turn over the keys to the building, the CMA didn’t wait, and shuttered the building, personal possessions and all, first thing Monday morning. While the church members are shocked by the property confiscation, they are more bewildered that the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination would act in such a way toward fellow believers. “We haven’t been treated very Christ-like by the Christian Missionary Alliance,” says Pastor Joseph Smaha, whose battle-weary congregation can’t believe the beloved church of A. B. Simpson would behave in such a way. WND reported a year ago about the dispute between the small community church in suburban New Jersey, and the Metropolitan District of the CMA, led by Bruce Terpstra. The alliance had determined the church was dying, so ownership of the property and all of the congregation’s assets must be turned over to the denomination. “Not so,” the pastor of the church, Smaha told WND. “There has never been any indication that our church is ‘dying’,” he said. “On the contrary, our body has been growing by leaps and bounds.” Smaha told WND that the average attendance has been approaching 100 for quite awhile. “Our congregation is vibrant, in love with Jesus, and growing steadily, with new people coming in every week,” he said. “What’s more exciting than that is the people receiving Jesus as Lord through our outreach.” In fact, Smaha tried to explain how healthy the congregation was to Terpstra and Fred Henry, a regional director for the CMA, but the Christian pastor was told, “You could be making the numbers up.” Smaha urged the pair to come visit the church and “observe the great work that God is doing here,” but his offers were declined. WND visited the small church for a worship service and observed large numbers in attendance, “far more than the CMA constitution calls for in downgrading a church to ‘developing.'” Insisting that the congregation is not “viable,” conference officials dispatched a rebuttal to one WND report that said, “Because we rely so heavily on the Internet as a source of information that is often unverifiable, we must exercise great caution in what we choose to accept as truth. More than any other generation, we must read Internet articles with great discernment and a healthy dose of skepticism. The sworn enemy of Christ’s church has vowed to stop at nothing to bring about its demise. And the use of media has become a frequent weapon of choice.” The Christian Missionary Alliance turned to the courts when congregation members raised objections to turning over the building which they had built and paid for before joining the CMA. One pastor that WND spoke with, Joseph Broz, told WND that the denomination literally told him they didn’t owe him any prayer while they were attempting to take away his church in Pennsylvania, in a similar fashion. Broz told WND in an interview that he nearly died in an accident, and the CMA District Superintendent Wayne Spriggs refused to even pass along a prayer request for the injured man.
  • Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said that a big-government mind-set now threatens American freedom, cnsnews.com reports. “Everything that America has been, everything we ever wish to be, is now threatened by the notion that you can have something for nothing,” said Paul. In making his point, Paul invoked President Ronald Reagan. “In his farewell speech in 1989, as Reagan said, ‘as government expands, liberty contracts,’” said Paul. “He was right.”
  • Roy B. Zuck, senior professor emeritus of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary and editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, went to be with the Lord Saturday, March 16, reports dts.edu, which offers a summary of his life. Roy was born Jan. 20, 1932, and raised in Phoenix, Ariz. As a boy, he visited his father’s parents’ farm, where he would milk cows and feed chickens. His grandfather spoke to him about the Bible and shared the gospel with him. When he was 10, Roy attended a revival meeting with his grandparents, and he trusted Christ that evening. Roy would later joke that he practiced preaching to the chickens, but they weren’t a very responsive audience. Only a couple of years later, at age 12, Roy felt called to Christian ministry. In his words, “I just felt that’s what the Lord wanted me to do, and I couldn’t see doing anything else.” Later as a freshman in high school, he wrote to Biola College in southern California to request an application. He thought the Lord might lead him to work overseas, perhaps as a missionary doctor. In 1949, he graduated from Phoenix Union High School and entered Biola. In his first two years in college, Roy sat in Bible classes taught by DTS alumnus J. Vernon McGee, who “made the Bible live.” This was perhaps the first spark that got Roy thinking about attending Dallas Theological Seminary. In his final year in college, he was student body president and presided over the student council, where he met Dorothy (“Dottie”) Blythe. He proposed to Dottie on her birthday, May 9, 1953, a few weeks before their graduation. He graduated cum laude and moved to Dallas to begin the ThM program at Dallas Theological Seminary. During his first year Dottie stayed in California while Roy attended classes. They were married July 24, 1954. Roy became Howard Hendricks’s teaching assistant while a student, and he graduated at the top of his class in 1957. He stayed to begin his ThD and served as a teaching fellow in Christian Education and Homiletics. During this time Roy and Dottie’s two children were born—Barbara in 1956, and Kenneth two years later. Beginning around 1980, Dr. Zuck, along with Dallas President Dr. John Walvoord, began work on The Bible Knowledge Commentary, perhaps his best-known literary work, although he wrote many other books and articles. Roy was married for 54 years to his wife, who went to be with the Lord Sept. 27, 2008. Roy stepped away from most outside activities to care for Dottie when her health declined. In her final years, he was her primary caregiver, and he always considered it a gift and a privilege to serve her in this way. He spoke of the many years she had cooked for him and helped him and declared that now it was his turn.