Religion Today Daily Headlines - February 26, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - February 26, 2013

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:


German Homeschool Family Gets Day in U.S. Court

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in late February to hear the case of a Christian family from Germany seeking asylum in the U.S., WORLD News Service reports. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled to America in 2008 because the German government would not let them homeschool their children. Oral arguments are scheduled for April, and the court will get two very different opinions of the Romeikes. In the view of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which represents the family, the German government has persecuted the Romeikes for exercising their right to direct their children's schooling, like many parents do in the U.S. But the American government does not believe the German government persecuted the Romeikes, and maintains the family is not being singled out for its religious beliefs. German law requires all children to attend state-approved schools. The HSLDA hopes the case will pressure Germany to change the way it treats homeschool families, said Michael Donnelly, director of international relations. "[Germany is] a democracy,” he said. “They respect human rights. But in this area, it's frightening how they treat people who want to do something very simple. There are 2 million children home-schooled in the U.S. … This is not a threat to the German state, but they are treating it that way, and it's wrong."

Tanzanian Attacks Leave Christians Wary Over Future

Three incidents of violence against ministers in Tanzania have left believers in the eastern African nation concerned over the future of religious freedom, Open Doors USA reports. On Feb. 17, gunmen shot and killed a Catholic priest on the island of Zanzibar. Police say they have arrested three suspects in connection with the murder, but their motive remains unknown. On Feb. 2, on mainland Tanzania, an Assemblies of God minister, Pastor Mathayo Kachili, was hacked to death in the Geita region when he intervened in an altercation between villagers over the slaughter of an animal. On Dec. 26, Catholic priest Father Ambrose Mkenda sustained serious injuries when unknown gunmen shot at him. He sustained two bullet wounds, one to the cheek and one to the back, and underwent surgery to extract the bullets. Father Anthony Makunde, secretary general of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, told a local newspaper, The Guardian, that the situation signaled a plot to destroy peace in the country. Tanzania is ranked No. 24 on the 2013 Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians; it was previously unranked. Tanzania is a majority-Christian country with a substantial Muslim population, and Islamic extremism is the main persecution dynamic for the country.

Rural Teens at High Risk for Pregnancy

Nationally, the birth rate for U.S. teens has plunged to record low levels, but a new analysis shows that a disproportionate share of teen births are in rural communities, reports Jim Liebelt. In 2010, the birth rate for girls ages 15 to 19 in rural counties was 43 per 1,000, nearly one-third higher than the rate for metropolitan counties (33 per 1,000), says a newly released report. The national rate in 2010 was 34 births per 1,000; preliminary 2011 data show an 8 percent drop to a historically low 31 births per 1,000. The new report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy used the National Center for Health Statistics urban-rural classification system, which identifies rural counties (also called non-metro counties) as those with populations of less than 50,000. Metropolitan counties have populations of 50,000 or more. "The prevailing stereotype is that teen parenthood is primarily an urban and suburban phenomenon," says Bill Albert, chief program officer for the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit. In fact, "the landscape of teen childbearing is more open spaces and fresh air than gridlock and high-rises," he says. The results indicate that "the rates are far, far higher in rural areas compared to other parts of the country," Albert said.

Howard Hendricks Dies at Age 88

Legendary Dallas Theological Seminary professor Howard Hendricks died Feb. 20 at age 88, WORLD News Service reports. Hendricks, known by his students as "Prof," taught for 60 years at DTS and mentored some of the most influential evangelical pastors in the United States, including Tony Evans, Robert Jeffress, David Jeremiah, Erwin Lutzer, Joseph Stowell and Chuck Swindoll. He also influenced future professors and authors, including Bruce Wilkinson, best-selling author of The Prayer of Jabez. In a 2003 interview with The Dallas Morning News, Hendricks said, "You’re looking at a completely fulfilled human being. If I died today having produced some of the people God has given me the privilege of shaping, it will have been worth showing up on the planet." Hendricks earned a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College in 1946 and a master’s degree from DTS in 1950. He joined the DTS faculty in 1951 and remained until 2011, when, at age 86, he said his body would no longer cooperate with his mind. Hendricks served as head chaplain for the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys from 1976 to 1984 and was a frequent speaker at Promise Keepers events in the 1990s. His best-selling book, Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, taught scores of believers the inductive method of studying the Bible.

Publication date: February 26, 2013