Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 10, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 10, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • 'No Right to Homeschool,' Calif. Court Says
  • Christian Groups See Little Change in Cuba
  • Tears, Prayers in Jerusalem for Terror Victims
  • Evangelicals Challenged to Present Christ Credibly

'No Right to Homeschool,' Calif. Court Says

According to Baptist Press, a California appeals court has ruled parents have no constitutional right to homeschool their children and that those parents who do must be credentialed teachers. The decision was issued Feb. 28 but wasn't picked up by national media until March 6. Even some of the nation's leading homeschooling organizations didn't know about the case until the ruling was issued. Still, it could have broad implications for California's estimated 166,000 homeschool students, while setting a dangerous precedent for other such students nationwide. California law, the court ruled, requires that children be enrolled and attend a public or private school or be "tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught." Parents who fail to follow the state law could face criminal penalties. The court's ruling overturned a lower court decision that had ruled parents do indeed have a constitutional right to homeschool their children. The appeals court's decision is being appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Christian Groups See Little Change in Cuba reports that U.S. Christian groups that have worked for years in Cuba don't expect significant changes in the government's restrictions on religion now that Raul Castro has succeeded his ailing brother Fidel. A staff person from the Florida Baptist Convention just returned from a visit to Cuba and was not optimistic. "From talking to our Baptist leadership, they don't believe there's going to be any appreciable change in how the government deals with religious groups," said the FBC's Donald Hepburn. Methodist leadership echoes the sentiment, with Rev. Larry Rankin, director of mission and justice ministries for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, saying, "the expectation is very low of any great change."

Tears, Prayers in Jerusalem for Terror Victims

Thousands of mourners gathered in the streets around the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva Friday morning for prayers and a memorial service for eight students gunned down at the Jerusalem religious seminary on Thursday, reports. Israeli security services were on high alert throughout the country against the possibility of additional attacks. Eight Israelis -- seven of them teenagers between 15 and 19 -- were killed by a Palestinian from Arab East Jerusalem. He walked into the school shortly before 9 p.m., took a gun out of box and opened fire on those studying in the library. Eleven students were injured, several seriously, before the gunman himself was shot dead. One medic who arrived at the Jewish religious seminary after the attack described a scene where the dead and wound were spread out in the library, holy books covered in blood still in their hands. In a statement, Hamas "blessed" the attack as "a natural response to Israeli crimes in Gaza," and it warned, "It won't be the last one."

Evangelicals Challenged to Present Christ Credibly

“Far from evangelicals being an embarrassment, we should think of ourselves as integral to God’s great news for our community, and tell ourselves again with a certain humility and confidence that we have a vital role to play as active Christians and active citizens in the public square.” The Christian Post reports that these were the words of the general director of the Evangelical Alliance, Joel Edwards, at the launch of his new book An Agenda for Change. Edwards' work is another contribution to a discussion among evangelicals on how to present Christ credibly without watering down biblical truth. Edwards had earlier announced that he will step down as general director after 11 years. Looking ahead, he stressed the heart of the matter was not about advancing evangelicalism as a political or Christian system, but instead about “how we help people understand that God is ultimately the God of Good News and is interested in people’s wellbeing.”