January 14, 2009

1502 RNS News

The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors

Homeschooling Numbers Climb 36% Since 2003

BY ERIN ROACH                                                                                                         
©2009 Baptist Press 

capA new report by the U.S. Department of Education finds that the number of homeschooled children in America has risen steadily over the past five years and stood at about 1.5 million in 2007.

Homeschooling experts, though, place the number closer to 2 million and say the discrepancy can be attributed to homeschooling parents being less inclined to respond to government surveys.

The report from the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the federal government's education department, said in December the number of homeschooled children was up 74 percent from 1999 to 2007 and 36 percent since 2003.

Among the top reasons parents gave for choosing homeschooling over traditional education: concern about the school environment, to provide religious or moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools.

"From 2003 to 2007, the percentage of students whose parents reported homeschooling to provide religious or moral instruction increased from 72 percent to 83 percent," the report said.

Months earlier, Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, released a factsheet saying parent-led, home-based education a decade ago appeared to be cutting edge and alternative, but now is bordering on mainstream in the United States.

Ray said in July there were an estimated 2 million to 2.5 million children in grades K-12 who were home-educated during 2007-08. He also said the method was growing quickly in popularity among minorities, with about 15 percent of homeschool families being non-Anglo.

In addition, Ray, author of Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling from B&H Publishing, noted that homeschooling relieves American taxpayers of more than $16 billion that would have to be spent if homeschooled children attended public schools. 

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Faith-healing Deaths to Take Center Stage in Oregon

BY RICK BELLA                                                                                   
©2009 Religion News Service
Two high-profile deaths from 2008 will land in the courts in 2009 when the Oregon justice system determines whether members of an Oregon City faith-healing church acted criminally in the deaths of two children who were denied medical treatment.
The trials, in Clackamas County Circuit Court, could lead to the first legal tests of a 1999 state law disallowing faith-healing at the expense of a child's life.
What's more, the almost-certain appeals in the cases may ask the courts to redefine the balance between freedom of religion and parents' legal responsibilities for the health and safety of minors.
The first trial, set for January 26, will weigh manslaughter and criminal mistreatment charges against Carl Brent Worthington, 38, and his wife, Raylene Marie Worthington, 26, in the death of their 15-month-old daughter, Ava. The girl died last March of bronchial pneumonia and blood infections after she was denied conventional medical care.
In the second trial, set for June 23, Raylene Worthington's parents, Jeffrey Dean Beagley, 50, and his wife, Marci Rae Beagley, 47, of Oregon City will face charges of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 16-year-old son, Neil. The boy died in June of heart failure triggered by a urinary tract blockage.
In both deaths, state medical examiners said both children could have been treated with routine medical procedures or medicine.
The common thread in both cases is the Followers of Christ Church, a fundamentalist denomination hat bans medical attention for congregation members, instead relying on prayer vigils and the "laying on of hands."

Rick Warren Offers Shelter For Breakaway Anglicans

BY DANIEL BURKE                                                                                  
©2009 Religion News Service

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren has offered to open the campus of his California megachurch to conservative Anglicans who have broken with the Episcopal Church.
Warren, a best-selling author and prominent preacher, wrote to 30 Anglican leaders on January 9, days after California's Supreme Court ruled that Episcopal churches that break with their denomination are not entitled to keep church property.
"We stand in solidarity with them," Warren wrote in an e-mail posted online by Christianity Today, "and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need (sic) a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County."
Warren's letter was intended to be private, said spokeswoman Kristin Cole. She said she did not know if any Anglicans have taken Warren up on his offer.
Warren, a Southern Baptist, has built ties to conservative Anglican leaders, including prominent archbishops in Africa, over the last several years. In 2005, he spoke at a conference for conservative Anglicans in Pittsburgh.
In 2003, the Episcopal Church consecrated V. Gene Robinson, a openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire, precipitating a clash between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion of which it is part.
The Episcopal Church is battling dozens of congregations that have
left the denomination to join African and South American branches of the Anglican Communion over church property.
Warren said the Episcopal Church "already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects" with conservative bishops from Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. Warren also said that "I've been on Gene Robinson and other's (sic) attack list for my position on gay marriage."

Pa. Courts Uphold Weddings by Clergy Ordained Online

BY DANIEL BURKE                                                                                        
©2009 Religion News Service

In three separate cases, three Pennsylvania county judges have ruled that marriages performed by ministers who do not have houses of worship or congregations are legal, rejecting a contrary 2007 ruling that had sowed statewide confusion.
All three suits were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which argued that York County Judge Maria Musti Cook was wrong to invalidate a marriage in 2007 because the minister who performed it was ordained online and did not have a physical church or congregation.
The celebrant, a friend of the couple, was ordained by the Seattle-based Universal Life Church, which offers near instantaneous, no-questions-asked ordinations online.
Though Cook's ruling was limited to York County, registrars of wills across Pennsylvania began warning couples that their marriages may not be valid. In Bucks County, in suburban Philadelphia, for example, 36 couples remarried as a result of the York decision, said Barbara G. Reilly, the county clerk in charge of marriage registrations. The ACLU challenged Cook's decision, arguing that state law only requires ministers to belong to an established church to perform marriages. The ULC is an established church, they argued.
In a December 31 decision, Bucks County Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. agreed. "To interpret `church' as merely a physical place of worship would limit persons who are authorized to perform a marriage ... to only those who preside over a group of worshippers in a specific building," Fritsch wrote.
It would be "unjust" to disallow clergy without congregations, such as academics and hospital chaplains, from performing marriages, he added.
Fritsch's ruling follows similar decisions by judges in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. ACLU attorney, however, say the only way to "fix" the problem is to file suit in York County and have Cook's decision reversed.