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
California Court Reverses Itself,
Declares Homeschooling Legal
California court on August 8 reversed its previous ruling and decided that most forms of homeschooling are legal. Last February, the California Court of Appeal ruled in a juvenile court case that public school enrollment is generally required unless a child is tutored by a credentialed person or enrolled in a full-time private school.
In the new ruling, the court determined that while original education laws seemed to prohibit homeschools in the definition of private school, later laws could be interpreted differently. "The most logical interpretation of subsequent legislative enactments and regulatory provisions supports the conclusion that a home school can, in fact, fall within the private school exception to the general compulsory education law," the court concluded. "We therefore conclude that home schools may constitute private schools."
But the court added that "an order requiring a dependent child to attend school outside the home in order to protect that child's safety" is constitutional. The case, which involved a family that homeschooled their children and had them tested occasionally at Sunland Christian School in Sylmar, California, drew the attention of homeschool advocates, including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
"This is a tremendous victory for thousands of home-schooling families in California," said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, which represented the Christian school.
Court: University of California Can Reject
Christian School Classes
A California federal judge has ruled that the University of California had a "rational basis" for rejecting science and history courses taught at Christian high schools.
Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California, and the Association of Christian Schools International had charged that the university had an unconstitutional admissions process because it refused to certify courses that taught creationism and other beliefs.
Private school students are required to meet certain high-school requirements before they can be eligible to apply to one of the undergraduate campuses of the University of California.
U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero ruled August 8 that concerns about a course whose primary text was called "Biology: God's Living Creation" was deemed by UC experts to have failed at teaching critical thinking or the theory of evolution in an adequate manner.
The judge also said UC reviewers found that a text published by Bob Jones University titled "United States History for Christian Schools" taught that "the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events" and did not include modern methods for historical analysis. In these cases, and in reviews of English and government texts, Otero said the Christian school defendants did not adequately refute the findings of UC's reviewers. The judge also found that the university system did not reject the courses out of animosity.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached a $12.7 million settlement with 16 survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, Cardinal Francis George announced August 12.
Fourteen of the cases involve abuse by 10 priests between 1962 and 1994, the archdiocese reported. Former priest Daniel J. McCormack, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children, is responsible for the remaining two.
George has apologized for not removing McCormack, who is now serving a five-year prison sentence, from ministry sooner. One case involving McCormack remains to be settled by the archdiocese. "My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their families begin to heal and move forward," George said. "I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community."
The 11 priests whose abuse led to the settlement have resigned, died, been sentenced to prison, or otherwise been removed from ministry, according to the archdiocese. Since 1950, nearly 11,000 claims of sexual abuse by clergy have been made against the U.S. Catholic Church. The abuse scandal has cost the church more than $2 billion and bankrupted six dioceses.
Episcopal Church to Apologize for Slavery
Continuing its efforts to address a practice some members call "a stain on the church," the Episcopal Church will hold a "Day of Repentance" to publicly apologize for its involvement in the slave trade. The ceremony, mandated by a 2006 resolution at the church's General Convention, will take place October 3, 4 in Philadelphia.
"We hope to set a model for other denominations about how to face this dark, tragic part of our history because we believe that only when you repent can you move on," said Jayne Oasin, program officer for the
church's Anti-Racism and Gender Equality program.
In recent years, Episcopalians have attempted to come to grips with their church's compliance in the "peculiar institution" of slavery.
After previous unsuccessful attempts, delegates to the 2006 convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution acknowledging the "deep and lasting injury which the institution of slavery and its aftermath have inflicted on society and on the church."
That same year, delegates passed a resolution supporting efforts by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., to create a special commission for the study of reparations, although they did not explicitly endorse such payments.
Although the trans-Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States in 1808, and slavery was prohibited at the end of the Civil War, some church members have long felt that the church continues to benefit materially from its involvement. Many of its older churches were funded in part by profits from the slave trade, and the nation's most famous Episcopalian, George Washington, was a slave owner.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will conduct the service at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, which was founded by a former slave in 1792.