Wednesday, August 13, 2008

13 August 2008

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[2] Protestant Reformed Churches 2008 Synod Hears Appeals Regarding Article 21, Christian Schools, and Homeschooling
[3] California Appeals Court Reverses Earlier Home School Ruling Requiring State Teaching Credentials
[4] Home Schooling Family in Germany has Five Children Seized by Government
[5] Overisel Christian Reformed Church Celebrates 125th Anniversary
[6] Reid Priddy on USA Olympic Volleyball Team
[7] Judge Rules Nude Dance at Strip Club by Underage Girl is Protected Art
[8] Tyson Foods Gives Poultry Plant Workers Muslim Holiday
[9] Court Rules Williamsburg-James City County (Virginia) Schools Discriminated Against Good News Clubs
[10] Missionary Team Arrested in China Back in USA

[1] Death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn died 3 August at age 89 in his Russian homeland to which he returned after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Paul Weyrich’s 4 August tribute to Solzhenitsyn called him “…the most important freedom fighter of the 20th century,” describing how he was put into the Soviet Gulag for criticizing Josef Stalin in a World War II letter to a friend.

A despairing Solzhenitsyn was dissuaded from an escape attempt and certain death by a stranger he had never seen before or saw again afterwards that he described as having “…a warmth he had never experienced before,” and who “…he came to believe was Christ himself.” Shortly after this event, Solzhenitsyn was freed from the gulag, expelled from the Soviet Union, and came to the United States.

Once he reached the West, Solzhenitsyn discovered that Senator Jesse Helms and AFL-CIO stalwart George Meany played the most important role in the effort to free him, and Solzhenitsyn and Helms subsequently became close friends. In an incident Weyrich called “one of the most disgraceful episodes in American history,” President Gerald R. Ford refused to invite Solzhenitsyn to the White House.

Solzhenitsyn stayed out of American politics, except for one prophetic speech at Harvard University “in which he warned the West that it was in mortal danger of disintegration if it did not maintain its principles.”

Solzhenitsyn was “a fervent Orthodox Christian” and was by that church commended to the Lord later in the week.

+ Newsmax, Post Office Box 20989, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33416, 561-686-1165, Fax: 561-686-3350

[2] Protestant Reformed Churches 2008 Synod Hears Appeals Regarding Article 21, Christian Schools, and Homeschooling

The 2008 Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) commenced 10 June 2008 at Hope PRC in Walker, Michigan.

Business conducted included a sustained two-day examination of seminary graduate Heath Bleyenberg, and approval of Professor David Engelsma’s retirement after 25 years of pastoral and seminary service.

Several appeals were heard related to Article 21 of the Church Order, “The consistories shall see to it that there are good Christian schools in which the parents have their children instructed according to the demands of the covenant.”

The appeals involved a PRC minister that withdrew his children from a Christian school because of criticisms of the school, without giving adequate explanation to the congregation. The consistory examined the matter, approved the minister’s actions, and notified the congregation of the decision. Disapproving congregation members appealed to Classis East.

Classis East decided that Article 21 is binding on PRC officeholders, mandated consistories to facilitate Reformed Christian schools and to compel parents to use these schools, stated that Article 21 refers historically to parental Christian day schools and not to home schools, stated that office bearers who do not send their children to these Christian schools without consistory approval are not fulfilling their Article 21 duties, and said that the consistory’s judgment in these matters is binding over a pastor’s conscience.

Synod rendered decisions that did not modify the basic positions of Classis East, but did clarify and moderate the details. Those interested in the full decisions are urged to read the Acts of Synod.

+ The Standard Bearer, 1894 Georgetown Center Drive, Jenison, Michigan 49428, 616-457-5970, Fax: 616-457-5980,

+ Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 4949 Ivanrest Avenue, Grandville, Michigan 49418

[3] California Appeals Court Reverses Earlier Home School Ruling Requiring State Teaching Credentials

The California Court of Appeal on 8 August reversed an earlier decision by ruling 3-0 that the state's education code allows parents to home school their children.

In early March a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal determined that parents in had no legal right to home school, setting in motion efforts by groups including the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association, and Focus on the Family to provide information to the court that compelled the court to uphold parents' constitutional right to educate their children at home.

+ American Family Association, Post Office Drawer 2440, Tupelo, Mississippi 38803, 662-844-5036

[4] Home Schooling Family in Germany has Five Children Seized by Government

The home schooling Gorber family of southern Germany in January had six of their children seized in a surprise raid by the youth welfare office (“Jugendamt”) and police while Mr. Gorber visited his wife at a local hospital where she had been admitted due to complications from pregnancy with her ninth child.

The Gorber’s regained custody of their three-year-old son after a six-hour German Family Court session the week of 28 July. Five of their children remain in foster care, though the court did increase the time the Gorbers could visit these children up from the one hour every two weeks imposed after the initial raid.

A 5 July 2008 change to the federal youth welfare law signed by German President Horst Koehler establishes the standard by which family courts are to determine whether custody of parents can be taken away when the children are “endangered.” Endangerment is not defined in the law. The highest German courts have ruled that homeschooling is not tolerated because it creates “parallel societies” and is an abuse of parent’s rights. Administrative agencies and courts have stated that the failure to send children to school is by definition “endangerment.”

Opponents have accused the child welfare system in Germany of corruption driven by exorbitant payments by the government to children’s homes and foster care providers. The local operating youth welfare committees include privately owned and for-profit children’s care institutions who participate with legal sanction on the committees with two-fifths of the total vote.

+ Home School Legal Defense Association, Post Office Box 3000, Purcellville, Virginia 20134, 540-338-5600, Fax: 540-338-2733,

[5] Overisel Christian Reformed Church Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Overisel Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Overisel Township, Michigan is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a dinner on 22 August and special services on 17, 24, and 31 August.

Overisel CRC was organized by 30 families on 13 August 1883. Services were in the Dutch language for almost 68 years, and on the churches 75th anniversary in 1951, the history book written on that occasion stated that, “…our older people have not lost their love for the grand old Holland Psalms, which have been a source of great inspiration and comfort to former generations in times of trouble and sorrow.”

+ Holland Sentinel, 54 West 8th Street, Holland, Michigan 49423, 616-546-4200, Fax: 616-393-6710,

+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803

[6] Reid Priddy on USA Olympic Volleyball Team

Reid Priddy, 30-year-old son of ARP Outreach North America Director of Church Renewal and EPC Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic Church Development Director Dr. Ken Priddy, is a member of the 2008 USA Olympic Volleyball Team.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 17197 North Laurel Park Drive Suite 567, Livonia, Michigan 48152, 734-742-2020, Fax: 734-742-2033,

[7] Judge Rules Nude Dance at Strip Club by Underage Girl is Protected Art

Fremont County, Iowa Judge Timothy O'Grady in late July ruled that nude dancing in strip clubs is "artistic" even when performed by an under age girl, and that strip clubs are “theatres” in the legal sense.

After the 17-year-old niece of the local Sheriff, Steven MacDonald, did a nude dance at the Hamburg, Iowa Shotgun Geniez club, the owner, Clarence Judy, was charged with violating Iowa's public indecent exposure law.

Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson responded that the case was straightforward: an underage girl danced naked at the club, which is illegal.

The judge ruled, however, that prosecutors failed to prove that the strip club does not qualify as a theatre saying, "Given the First Amendment implications of a statute that may limit expression, it is not the role of the Court to judge the taste or quality of the art represented at Shotgun Geniez when determining whether or not it is a theater…"

+, Incorporated, Post Office Box 25382, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15220, 866-787-9947,

[8] Tyson Foods Gives Poultry Plant Workers Muslim Holiday

After Tyson Foods replaced Labor Day as a paid holiday with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr at their Shelbyville, Tennessee plant, union members overwhelmingly voted to overturn the holiday change and reestablish Labor Day as a paid holiday.

Workers will get paid holidays for both Labor Day and Eid al-Fitr in 2008 for a total of nine paid holidays, and beginning in 2009, workers will have eight paid holidays with the choice between Eid al-Fitr or another day of their choice as one of the eight paid holidays.

+ Shelbyville Times Gazette, Post Office Box 380, Shelbyville, Tennessee, 37162, 931-684-1200, Fax: 931-684-3228,

[9] Court Rules Williamsburg-James City County (Virginia) Schools Discriminated Against Good News Clubs

On 11 August, a federal court ruled in favor of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Virginia (CEF), granting an injunction against the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools. The court ruled that the school board engaged in unconstitutional discrimination by charging CEF a fee for holding after-school Good News Clubs at area schools, while granting free use to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other organizations.

+ Liberty Counsel, Post Office Box 540774, Orlando, Florida 32854, 800-671-1776,

[10] Missionary Team Arrested in China Back in USA

Three members of a Faith and Action missionary team arrested 7 August in Beijing for protesting China’s forced abortion policies and human rights violations were expelled by the Chinese and arrived back in the USA on 8 August.

The team said they were treated well by the Chinese government, other than being dragged away, detained for 10 hours, and threatened with a lengthy jail stay.

The team once in China went to Tiananmen Square where they unfurled a banner that said "Jesus Christ is King”.

Team leader Rev. Pat Mahoney said that uniformed Chinese officers confiscated the banner and escorted them out of the square.

Mahoney is Reformed Presbyterian pastor and Director of the Christian Defense Coalition. The other team members are Brandi Swindell and Mike McMonagle of Generation Life.

+, 555 17th Street, Suite 700, Denver, Colorado 80202,