In a widely watched Swedish homeschool case, two parents and their child are closer to being reunited at long last, reports christianpost.com. Almost three years ago “an unspeakable nightmare befell a loving innocent family simply because they wanted to educate their seven-year-old son from home.” One summer day in 2009, Christer and Annie Johansson approached their local school authority in anticipation of their family moving to India to fulfill their dream of doing missionary work with orphanages. They wanted to ensure that their son, Domenic, received a proper Swedish and Indian education while traveling. At the time in Sweden, home education was a legal option for children of Domenic’s age under these circumstances. As the family was on board the plane headed for India, police and social service workers came on board the aircraft and abducted Domenic. During the last three years, says christianpost.com, Christer and Annie have been harassed by social service workers, treated like criminals, had their visitation rights severely limited—and for a period completely annulled—and were not even allowed to use an attorney of their own choosing. Christer eventually took Domenic away during a supervised visit, informing social services that he was going to be with Domenic at his father’s house. For this, Christer was jailed for more than 30 days. The Alliance Defense Fund has been working with the Home School Legal Defense Association and Stockholm-based children’s attorney Ruby Harrold-Claesson, complaining of the “state-napping” of Domenic Johansson and the gross violations of due process in not allowing the Johanssons to use an attorney of their own choosing. The Johanssons have finally begun winning key motions, including being able to retain Harrold-Claessson for domestic proceedings. And just this month, the couple won their biggest victory yet: the Children’s Court has ruled against a motion by the state that parental rights be terminated. ADF will keep fighting for this family, recognizing that the state has no right to usurp the Johanssons’ parental role nor to kidnap a child because the parents wish to exercise their right to home educate.
- Rockdale County is allegedly discriminating against a Georgia church, effectively forcing it underground, reports charismanews.com. Rockdale County refused the small church access to several properties for its worship services because the properties are less than three acres. The restriction does not apply to non-religious groups. The Alliance Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit. “Government officials should not use zoning restrictions to close down religious services of small, start-up churches,” says ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “Not only is it irresponsible to target small ministries dedicated to serving the community, it’s unconstitutional and violates federal law.”
- Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised online for an upstate New York bus monitor who was taunted and verbally abused by students, reports onenewsnow.com and AP. The incident was captured in a 10-minute video posted to YouTube showing 68-year-old Karen Klein trying her best to ignore the stream of profanity, insults, and outright threats directed at her. The verbal abuse was captured in a cell phone video recorded last Monday by a middle school student. By early Wednesday, the video had gone viral. It had more than two million views by Thursday afternoon. Klein told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that she “was just trying to ignore them and hope they would go away.” The bus monitor didn’t report the incident, but school officials notified police when they learned of it. An investigation has been launched. Klein says she hopes the children’s parents see the video and talk to them about respect. She says it took “a lot of willpower” not to respond to Monday’s jeers from at least four seventh- and eighth-grade boys riding the bus operated by the Greece Central School District, a suburban Rochester district. Police said Klein does not want her young tormenters to face criminal charges, in part because of the storm of criticism the boys are enduring. By Thursday afternoon, an international crowd funding site had raised more than $300,000 to send the grandmother on a vacation.
- The Michigan House has passed a bill named after an Eastern Michigan University student who was kicked out of the school’s counseling program because of her faith, reports onenewsnow.com. In 2009, Julea Ward was expelled from the university’s counseling program because of her Christian beliefs, particularly against homosexuality. But earlier this year,the Sixth U.S. Circuit of Appeals sided with the student, ruling that “a reasonable jury would conclude that Ward’s professors ejected her from the counseling program because of hostility toward her speech and faith.” That opinion reversed an earlier district court decision in favor of the university. Now the “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act” has been proposed and approved by the House. It prohibits religious discrimination against college students studying counseling, social work, and psychology. Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jeremy Tedesco is defending Ward in her lawsuit against EMU. “We certainly welcome their efforts to protect the rights of their citizens,” he commented. “Public universities like Eastern Michigan University shouldn’t be able to require students to give up or abandon their religious beliefs as a condition of getting a degree.” Ward was ousted from the program after she was permitted to refer a homosexual client to another counselor. She was unwilling to violate her religious beliefs to affirm that sexual orientation.
- Activist churches are baiting the IRS, but so far the agency is not taking, reports msnbc.com. Pastor Jim Garlow will stand before congregants at his 2,000-seat Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 7, just weeks before the U.S. presidential and congressional elections, and urge his flock to vote for or against particular candidates. He knows such pulpit pleading could endanger his church’s tax-exempt status by violating IRS rules for a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Garlow not only intends to break the rules, he also plans to spend the next four months recruiting other pastors to do the same as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Participants want to force the matter to court as a freedom of speech and religion issue. When the IRS cracks down on political activities proscribed by the 501(c)(3) regulations, it is inevitably branded as partisan. When the target is a church, mosque, or synagogue, enforcement puts two fundamental American values at odds: freedom of speech and the separation of church and state. Although the agency has enforced the tax-exemption rules against churches in the past, it has so far ignored the provocations of Freedom Sunday.
- A new Gallup poll released Friday shows that just 34 percent of Americans identify Obama as a Christian or, more specifically, as a Protestant, reports latimes.com. Eleven percent remain convinced that he is Muslim, and 44 percent say they don’t know. In contrast to Obama, Republican Mitt Romney, who rarely speaks about his faith, is correctly identified as a Mormon by 57 percent of Americans, according to Gallup.
- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez have refused to defend a 16-year-old state ban, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, saying it violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause, reports indystar.com. The decision has raised eyebrows among some legal experts who believe prosecutors are legally bound to defend Illinois law, and sets up a scenario where a judge could quickly strike down the marriage statute. Supporters of the ban say it’s unconscionable that there might be nobody in court to defend it, and some are strategizing over how to intervene. The move is seen as sure to thrust Illinois into the national spotlight as federal and other state courts wrestle with the gay marriage issue. The Obama administration last year announced it would not defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, though the U.S. House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group took up the defense. A federal appeals court in California recently declined to reconsider its decision to strike down that state’s ban on gay marriage, a case that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- A coalition of military chaplain endorsers is commending 66 members of Congress for sending a letter to the Defense Department outlining the Air Force leadership’s pattern of attacks on faith, reports onenewsnow.com. The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is pleased that the 66 lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with a long list of actions by Air Force leaders that they believe are “hostile to religion.” The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Todd Akin (R-Mo.), and Diane Black (R-Tenn.). They are concerned that the Air Force has repeatedly succumbed to the demands of organizations that seek to remove all references to God and faith from the military. Specifically, the letter blasts the Air Force for removing religious references in missile training, removing Bibles from Air Force Inn checklists, and barring commanders from telling airmen about chaplain Corps programs. The letter states, “When our sons and daughters join the military, they are not signing away their First Amendment right to religious liberty. Unfortunately, it seems that some parts of the military are intent on prohibiting religious expressions rather than protecting it.” Brig. Gen. Douglas Lee (USA-Ret.), a former Army chaplain and a founding member of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, says, “The Air Force over the last several years seems to be running scared as potential threats have come their way that have actually restricted mostly Christians from being able to carry out their activities in the Air Force.”
- While working on a new reality TV series, called Homeschool Television, to appear on DoersTV.com in the fall of , research revealed that the current bullying crisis in public and private schools is a direct link to horrified parents joining the Homeschool Revolution, reports ChristianNewsWire. According to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, 48.9 percent of parents who decide to homeschool do it to give their children a better education, and 38.4 percent is for religious reasons. However, with the increase in bullying, especially in the public school systems, parents who were interviewed for Homeschool Television view bullying as a major safety crisis for their children physically and emotionally. “I can not have peace of mind knowing that my children would be subjected to bullying in our current school systems like I hear in the news and from other parents that I know who have children in public and private schools. I just can not stomach seeing my precious child under that type of torture. That is horrifying to me. And on top of all that pressure, trying to learn at the same time. . . . No, I can not accept that, not for my kids,” said Melanie, a homeschool mother of two who will appear on Homeschool Television. The bullying epidemic in America has reached new heights of concern among parents; many are predicating homeschooling to accelerate at an unprecedented growth rate in the next few years. “When it comes to safety, most parents will do whatever it takes to protect their children, even at the expense of quitting their jobs to homeschool their children,” said David Wright, CEO of DoersTV.com. “From the interviews we have done with parents I would not be surprised to see homeschooling accelerate tremendously within the next few years.”
- Once upon a time, Zimbabwe’s hospitals were the model of health care in Africa. However, the health sector has borne the brunt of that nation’s economic crisis. It has left hospitals grappling with shortages of essential supplies and equipment, and a critical lack of trained workers, reports Mission Network News. Sanyati Baptist Hospital is not immune to the hard times. Although it has nearly 60 years’ investment in Zimbabwe in health care, education, and more, limited funds and resources have placed the hospital in crisis. On average, the hospital sees about 35,000 outpatients and 1,800 inpatients. Having an adequate facility for childbirths and minor surgical procedures makes this an important and vital busy hospital. At a time when AIDS, TB, cholera, and malaria have risen, the hospital finds itself short of the drugs needed to treat the diseases. Shortages of water and electricity have created difficulties in providing prompt care. Often patients are asked to return in hopes that power or water will be restored.
- The Supreme Court on Monday struck down much of the controversial Arizona immigration law, but upheld for now a key provision that requires police officers to check the immigration status of those they suspect may be in the country illegally, reports Fox News. The provision on mandatory checks during routine stops will now kick back to a lower court for review, and could still be subject to challenge. The rest of the ruling, though, definitively strikes down three other provisions in the Arizona law. Those provisions had made it a crime for immigrants to seek employment without work permits and to not carry their immigration papers, and had allowed police to arrest anyone they suspect committed a deportable offense. Without the latter provision, the requirement to conduct routine immigration checks has little enforcement power behind it. The decision throws into question how other states that had followed Arizona’s lead on immigration enforcement would proceed. But in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer was hardly deterred. In a statement Monday, Brewer hailed the decision as a “victory for the rule of law,” in reference to the one provision that was upheld. She indicated the state would move to carry out the law, even without the three other planks. “After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution,” Brewer said.
- Chuck Norris, writer and star of more than 20 films, is raising questions about Obama and the Boy Scouts of America, reports WorldNetDaily. Writes Norris, “A Boy Scouts of America national board member, James Turley, who is also global chairman and CEO of the accounting firm Ernst & Young, recently said he ‘will work from within to seek a change’ to overturn the BSA policy that bans gay scouts and leaders. But is Turley working on his own initiative, or has the White House prodded him with perks and favors? Is it a coincidence that Turley came out swinging against the BSA’s century-old policy to ban gays from leadership and that he has such close affiliations with the pro-gay Obama administration?” After asking further questions about coincidences he sees, Norris stated, “Even President John F. Kennedy proudly proclaimed at the 50th anniversary celebration of the BSA: ‘For more than 50 years, Scouting has played an important part in the lives of the Boy Scouts of this nation. It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future. . . . In a very real sense, the principles learned and practiced as Boy Scouts add to the strength of America and her ideals. Hasn’t America reached a new low in its history when the president of the United States (and the honorary president of the BSA!) distances himself and his administration from the Boy Scouts of America and yet invites groups like the Secular Student Alliance to participate in its faith and college missions?”
- Both Iran and the White House hailed the victory of Egypt’s president-elect Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood this weekend, reports breitbart.com. For its part, the White House believes it represents a “milestone in (Egypt’s) transition to democracy,” while Iran views it as a “revolutionary movement of the Egyptian people . . . in its final stages of the Islamic Awakening and a new era of change in the Middle East.” What remains to be seen is just how the Muslim Brotherhood president interprets the results himself. Now tasked with forming a government, some remain skeptical. Rep. Alan West took to Facebook, voicing his reservations in no uncertain terms. West called it “an incredible foreign policy faux pas by the second coming of President Jimmy Carter,” calling upon Obama “to cut off American foreign aid to Egypt, denounce the results of this election, repudiate the Muslim Brotherhood, and all radical Islamist political entities.”
- The Obama camp wants couples getting married to register with their website and ask guests to contribute to the president’s re-election in lieu of gifts. The plea on the site reads, “Got a birthday, anniversary, or wedding coming up? Let your friends know how important this election is to you—register with Obama , and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift. It’s a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it’s a gift that we can all appreciate—and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl.” Tad Cronn asked in godfatherpolitics.com in response, “OK, time for a little honesty, here. I mean who really believes they’ll get more value out of President Obama than they would a gravy bowl? Obama’s getting a bit desperate, and who can blame him? Last month, his campaign reportedly spent more than it was able to gather in contributions, while Romney’s been making some sizable gains for his war chest.” Meanwhile, some Democrats are abandoning Obama, reports nypost.com. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin, and Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia have all said, “No, thanks” to the invitation to celebrate the renomination of President Obama. Instead they’ve all made it clear “they’ve got better things to do with their time than support their party’s candidate.”