Freedom under fire: your chance to speak up
The threatened deportation of a German family, now living under asylum in the United States, has brought to light a disturbing threat, not only to their freedom and that of other would-be immigrants, but to the freedom of all Americans. We first reported their plight in February.1
Initially granted asylum in 2008, the Romeike family is now threatened with deportation to Germany. The U.S. government’s case against the family raises questions that should concern all Americans. Image credit: Wade Payne/EPA through abcnews.go.com
Is this the face of the future of freedom? In 2009, Domenic Johansson’s photo (left) was snapped for his passport as his family prepared to emigrate from Sweden to India, fleeing persecution for homeschooling. At the time, homeschooling in Sweden was legal. The photo on the right was taken four months after Domenic was forcibly taken from his parents as a result of their decision. He has not been returned to them. You may read more about the current status of Domenic and his family at www.hslda.org. Image: friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com
U.S. law grants permanent political asylum if refugees can show they have been persecuted for religious reasons or for being part of a “particular social group.” The Romeike family was granted asylum by a federal judge in 2008, but the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has appealed the ruling. The U.S. Attorney General’s case against the family should raise red flags for every American.
Americans concerned about protecting everyone’s religious freedom now have an opportunity to speak up. If at least 100,000 e-sign a petition to the White House by April 18, then the Obama administration will need to acknowledge our concern about protecting our own fundamental freedoms and keeping the United States the safe refuge for religious freedom that it has historically been. If you value your freedom to raise your children as you choose, or even just your own freedom to think and believe as you will, then you need to be aware of the U.S. government’s contentions in this case and make your voice heard.
Religious freedom is a founding principle of the United States. Thousands of North America’s first settlers came to these shores seeking freedom to practice their own religion, and by the time this country took shape our forefathers had figured out that religious freedom was only safe if everybody else in the country was free to practice their religion too.3
The United States of America has long been a destination for those seeking freedom from religious persecution. The threat of martyrdom—that most horrible violation of human rights—persists in many nations today.4 But in “free” nations religious persecution can take other forms.
The United States Supreme Court has affirmed that religious freedom includes the right of parents to direct the education and religious upbringing of their children.5
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26, section 3) also affirms, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”6
The Bible makes it clear that parents are responsible to diligently teach their children God’s truth (Deuteronomy 6:5–9; Malachi 2:15; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). And the conscience of many parents here and around the world dictates they can best raise their children by educating them at home.
Yet in some countries, even free nations like Germany and Sweden, parents face fines, jail, and loss of child custody for exercising this fundamental human right. Despite the harsh lessons of history—the terrible suffering under the Nazi and East German totalitarian regimes that considered children’s philosophical training to be under the purview of the state—homeschooling has remained illegal in Germany since 1918. In 2008, the Romeike family finally fled from Germany. The Johansson family in Sweden—where homeschooling was at the time legal—was not so fortunate: though they had violated no existing laws, their child Domenic was forcibly removed from their custody on June 25, 2009, after they had boarded a flight to leave Sweden for his mother’s homeland. He has not been returned.7
“Any nation that severely restricts the ability of parents to choose alternative forms of education, including home education, in the name of creating national unity,” as Sweden and Germany do, HSLDA’s Michael Farris says, “cannot call itself a free nation. Freedom necessarily requires the individual to have the liberty to think differently and believe differently than programs instituted by the current rulers of any nation. Educational freedom is the cornerstone for all freedom of thought and conscience.”8 Michael Farris is the founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). He will be arguing the Romeike’s case before the U.S. 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on April 23.
The freedom to homeschool is protected in the United States—so far. But in making its case against the Romeike family the United States Attorney General’s office has made remarks threatening American rights, not only to homeschool, but to believe anything the government finds objectionable.
“We should understand that in these arguments, something very concerning is being said about the liberties of all Americans,” says Farris. In standing up for the rights of the Romeikes, he explains, “We stand up for our own.”9
Remember the immortal words of German pastor Martin Niemöller in his “First they came for …” speech. We as American citizens have a chance—until April 18—to petition the White House (and, through it, the U.S. Attorney General’s office) to protect the fundamental freedoms of Americans, the freedoms we believe are human rights that should be accorded to people all over the world. If we fail to speak out, the day may come when Niemöller’s final line applies to us: “Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”10
But what if she’s not dead?—Should abortion providers be required to save the lives of infants they fail to kill?
No one keeps score on the number of babies inadvertently born alive during or after attempted abortion. But it does happen. Some of these rare survivors have become outspoken antiabortion activists. But a baby born alive as a result of an induced abortion is clearly a “failure” for those who engineered his or her death. Being premature and possibly traumatized, such a baby needs medical care. What’s an abortionist to do? Finish the murder already in progress (as Pennsylvania doctor Kermit Gosnell is currently charged with doing), neglect the baby to death, or try to save the child?
The truth about this issue was captured on video during a recent Florida legislative committee meeting. Repeatedly asked by increasingly astonished legislators what Planned Parenthood doctors would do if a failed abortion left a child “struggling for life” in their hands, Planned Parenthood’s representative testified that the “decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”
The committee was considering House Bill 1129, Florida’s Infants Born Alive Act.11 In addition to echoing the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 by declaring any baby born alive after an induced abortion is a “person,” Florida’s proposed law goes so far as to “require health care practitioners to preserve the life and health of such an infant born alive, if possible; providing for the transport and admittance of an infant born alive to a hospital.”12
The federal law specifies that any Homo sapiens “born alive” with any of the usual signs of life—a heartbeat, breathing, or voluntary movement—at any stage of development, so long as he or she has been completely expelled or extracted from the mother’s body, is a “person.” The federal law’s purpose is “to protect infants who are born alive,” but it does not mention what obligations those responsible for such a live-born person might have.13
The Florida law would obligate an abortionist to shift gears and attempt to sustain and protect the little person that moments before was marked for death. Clearly, the Planned Parenthood representative testifying before the committee does not believe the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act makes any demands applicable to Florida abortion clinics.
HB 1129 did, thankfully, pass the committee (10 to 2) with bipartisan support.14 The law, if eventually passed, may be difficult to enforce behind the closed doors of abortion clinics. However, it may save a few babies like abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. Jessen, who survived a late-term saline abortion and has cerebral palsy as a result of the ordeal, attended the presidential signing of the federal Born-Alive Act in 2002. Jessen personalizes the abortion debate. She says, “It’s more comfortable for people to think of abortion as a political decision, or a right. But I am not a right. I am a human being. . . . If abortion is about women’s rights, then where are mine?”
The YouTube video of the Planned Parenthood representative’s disavowal of any obligation to help a living, struggling baby is shocking many, and rightly so. But logically, if a baby moments before emerging into the world is legally marked for death, what is the difference once the child is born?
We modern civilized people recoil at the thought of ancient people leaving unwanted babies out in the cold for animals to devour, especially if the babies were unwanted because they were female. Today, what Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell is standing trial for—cutting the spinal cords of seven infants born alive as if they were laboratory frogs to be pithed—is called homicide once a child exits the mother’s body. But the same baby can be burned with hypertonic saline or ripped violently from the mother’s body with the blessing of the law.
Last year the Journal of Medical Ethics15 logically defended infanticide as a natural extension of abortion. Professional ethicists Albert Giubilini and Francesca Minerva wrote, “What we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.” Why? Because, in their view, “Newborn babies are not ‘actual persons’ and do not have a ‘moral right to life.’”
Our federal law declares that a baby legally becomes a person immediately upon leaving the mother’s body. Florida sponsors of HB1129 want to protect that person. And Planned Parenthood wants no part of it. Planned Parenthood officials complain that the proposed legislation safeguarding such a child’s life implies “doctors and women who end a pregnancy can’t be trusted.”16 But the testimony from their representative—repeatedly demanding the decision be left to the mother and doctor—does make one wonder, “Trusted? Trusted to do what?” Particularly when we realize that infanticide really is a logical extension of abortion.
The distinction between abortion and infanticide is completely arbitrary. The unborn baby is just as human before birth as after. (In fact, that baby has been a human since the moment of fertilization.) But getting pro-choice Americans and legislators and judges to see that we have become a destructive culture of death will require more than disgust at the thought of infanticide. It will ultimately require that we as a nation stop viewing unwanted babies as unwanted animals. After all, the evolutionary worldview declares that humans are nothing but advanced animals. Instead we must begin to see the unborn as human beings created in the image of God.
Be sure to watch the video and read more about the issue of infants born alive in abortion clinics and the culture of death that increasingly reigns in our supposedly civilized societies in America and around the world at But What If She’s Not Dead?
This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Bible mini-series on the History Channel concluded last Sunday evening with “The Passion,” the final installment covering Jesus Christ’s trial before Pilate, His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the initial spread of the gospel message to the world. The scriptwriters did a reasonable job of revealing the motivations of people like Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas as they condemned Jesus, though they omitted Herod’s part in the historical charade that passed as a trial. As in previous episodes, there were omissions, additions, and alterations to familiar biblical narratives—disturbing to some viewers while acceptable adaptations to others—and the Religion News article “Did The Bible finale stick to the story” by Jonathan Merritt (linked above) accurately points out a number of these.
By juxtaposing Peter and Judas—who each rejected Jesus—the movie presents the important contrast between sinners (like Peter) who accept the forgiving grace of God through Christ and sinners who (like Judas) may regret what they’ve done but, hardening their hearts, fail to seek God’s forgiveness. Similarly, the malefactors crucified with Jesus illustrate this contrast, and as Scripture records (Luke 23:39–43), Jesus assured the repentant one that he would be with Him in Paradise.
As we discuss the series with friends, these twin concepts of repentance and dependence on God’s grace are vital, for we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). God is not just a God of “second chances” (something said in a previous episode), for then our salvation would depend on our own works (Ephesians 2:8–9). God instead offers forgiving, transforming grace to repentant sinners who trust that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins by His death on the Cross.
Christ’s scourging and crucifixion was presented in a somewhat more family-friendly way than in the R-rated movie The Passion, though it still merited the PG-13 caution suggested by the producers. Crucifixion was, after all, a brutal tortuous method of execution so perfected by the Romans that they didn’t even use it on their own citizens. Regardless of the level of gory detail a movie includes, when we discuss Christ’s Crucifixion with others, it is vital that they understand the uniqueness of His Crucifixion was not in the physical way it was carried out but in the fact that—as the completely innocent Son of God—Jesus Christ willingly (John 10:18; Philippians 2:5–11) took upon Himself our sin-guilt (2 Corinthians 5:21) and was therefore, while on the cross, forsaken by God the Father (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
We hear in the series much of what Christ said from the Cross, see some events associated with His death, and are reminded that Jesus truly died (1 Corinthians 15:3). Unfortunately, the only real connection explaining that Jesus Christ was taking upon Himself the guilt for the sins of all mankind (Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2) was the fact that the Passover lamb was slaughtered during His Crucifixion. This visually represented 1 Corinthians 5:7—“Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us”—but only for biblically literate viewers. This point is worth discussing with children and friends who may not understand the significance of Christ’s death as anything other than the execution of an innocent man.
The “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1–8) that Jesus really rose from the dead didn’t get much screen time. The scriptwriters substantially adapted those they did cover. Though it was clear in the movie that Christ’s followers knew He truly died and was alive again, I cringed when one attested “He did not die; He is still with us.” This was a very poorly written line. “He did not die” does not mean the same thing as “He died and then came back to life”! After all, Romans 1:4 declares that Christ Resurrection from the dead attests to His deity. Scripture (Romans 4:24–25; Romans 10:9) indicates Christ’s Resurrection from death is necessary for our salvation. In preparing to discuss this pivotal issue with others, you may want to review what the Scriptures record about the significance of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection as well as the “many infallible proofs” witnessed between His Resurrection (shortly after Passover) and His ascension into heaven (ten days before the feast of Pentecost) at Did the Resurrection Really Happen?, The Sequence of Christ’s Post-Resurrection Appearances, and at www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/k/Resurrection-series/v/recent.
The series depicts Paul’s persecution of Christians and his conversion as well as the beginning of the spread of the Gospel through the Gentile world. It also provides an abbreviated version of the Acts chapter 10 account of the salvation of Cornelius, taking us with Peter to the home of the Roman centurion who wished to know how to be saved. Finally, the mini-series was able to explain something of what the actor portraying Jesus meant when he told Peter, “We’re going to change the world.” (That isolated scene has appeared in countless advertisements, previews, and recaps for weeks, and many of our readers have expressed concern about just what sort of “world-changing Jesus” the miniseries was going to present.) When Peter told the Roman Cornelius how to be saved, Peter said, “I am only a man like you. It is Jesus that can save you. . . . Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness.”
So, given that over 100 million people tuned in to the series, chances are some of your unsaved friends did too. Now it’s time for you to take the seed that’s been planted and do your part, praying that God through His Holy Spirit will open doors of opportunity (Colossians 4:3) for fruitful discussion and enable you to use the Scriptures themselves to build a clear foundation for faith in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:6–11).
How leafhopper legs survive the launch
Leafhoppers, a diverse group of insects that pierce and suck sap from plants, can be agricultural pests. Yet discoveries about their locomotion may provide useful lessons in biomechanics and robotics. These tiny insects have a powerfully springy leap. Researchers reporting in the Journal of Experimental Biology have filmed them in action and made some exciting discoveries.
The green leafhopper launches itself at nearly a meter per second with a constant acceleration more than 15 times the acceleration due to gravity. Remarkably, it does this without snapping its legs. Now researchers have learned about the precisely coordinated series of motions that produce a smooth and constant amount of force as the feet push off, protecting the leafhopper leap after leap. Be sure to watch the short videos at www.biologists.com/JEB_Movies/JEB076083/Movie1.mov (side view) www.biologists.com/JEB_Movies/JEB076083/Movie2.mov (from below). Image credit: ©entomart home.tiscali.be/entomart.ins through commons.wikimedia.org
The green leafhopper Cicadella viridis—one of the slower leafhoppers—lifts off at a velocity of 0.9 meters per second after accelerating at a constant 152 meters per second squared. For comparison, the acceleration due to gravity is “only” 9.8 meters per second squared. The real puzzle was how these fragile looking insects manage to flit about generating that sort of force every time they jump without punching holes in the leaves they’re leaving or snapping their legs.
By studying video footage, researchers have learned that while preparing to jump, the leafhopper contracts muscles in its thorax. The energy generated by these muscles rotates its femurs. This femur rotation transmits the muscles’ kinetic energy to the tibias. The rapid but steady transmission of energy as the leg steadily elongates produces a constant force that pushes off the leafy launch pad. Despite the enormous gravity-defying acceleration, the thrusting force at “the foot-ground [leaf] interface”17 remains nearly constant. Because there are no snapping peaks in the force generated, the launch is accomplished so smoothly and safely in the space of just a few milliseconds that the insect destroys neither legs nor leaf.
Precise posture and perfect timing produce one smooth motion to safely propel these insects from leaf to leaf. Be sure to watch these videos, filmed at 8000 frames per second, showing a leafhopper’s rocket-like launch from the side and viewed from below.
Cesare Stefanini and colleagues at The Biorobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pontedera, Italy, foresee the relevance of their discoveries for applications in “different research fields ranging from biomechanics to robotics.”17 Biomimicry of the morphology of the leafhopper’s hind legs may provide engineering applications for a variety of systems requiring safe and efficient motion conversion.
Biomimicry is the science of copying designs and processes found in nature to produce technological innovations. Evolutionists often proclaim amazing designs to be evolutionary success stories—the products of blind purposeless chance over time that somehow simultaneously produced just the right combination of anatomical features to function perfectly without, in this case, breaking the leafhopper’s legs. After all, if any part of the system is off, the legs snap and the insect’s leafhopping days are over. This unique bit of precision engineering instead illustrates one way God provided for the needs of the creatures He created, even the lowly leafhopper. Biomimicry applies the secrets of God’s designs—not evolutionary accidents—and takes advantage of the creative genius already present.
Massive volcanism correlated with the onset of the end-Triassic mass extinction, evolutionary geochronologists find.
If you hear evolutionary geologists talk about “flood basalts,” you might think they were seeing a connection between their geologic observations and the biblical Flood, but alas that is not the case. While flood basalts actually are quite consistent with the historical global Flood, geologists refer to these massive volcanic deposits as flood basalts because they are so voluminous they required a flood-like outpouring of lava to form. The flood basalts recently re-dated by geochronologist Terrence Blackburn of the Carnegie Institute for Science and his team cover vast stretches of four continents.
These flood basalts are in the news because Blackburn’s team has obtained much more precise dates on them. “Zircon is a perfect time capsule for dating those rocks,” Blackburn says. His results, obtained by uranium-lead dating of rare zircon crystals in volcanic rock from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, he believes indicate the earliest flood basalts from eastern North America and Morocco are temporally correlated with the Triassic mass extinction.
“All mass extinction events are correlated with major eruptions” although with an uncertain causal relationship, according to Berkeley geochronologist Paul Renne, commenting on the study. He believes this study tightens the correlation. Previously dated material has had a huge “margin of error”—around one to three million years—so evolutionary geologists have debated which came first, eruptions or extinctions. These precisely dated deposits do appear to have formed immediately before the end-Triassic mass extinction.
Furthermore, Blackburn’s team reports that pollen grains immediately below the dated region demonstrate the extinction was a sudden and catastrophic event. The authors conclude that the Triassic extinction was likely caused by the massive outpouring of lava over such a wide region, though they admit they cannot be certain and also do not know what specifically caused the sudden deaths of billions of organisms. They express surprise that life seemed to recover so soon, only to be again subjected to more mass extinction events.
The authors are quite pleased that the dates from the zircon crystals agree with those obtained though astrochronological dating of early Triassic fossils. As Answers in Genesis geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling explains:
Astrochronology is based on the current cyclical nature of the earth’s wobble as it spins in space and how that affects the earth’s distance from the sun, which in turn has an effect on the climate, which in turn effects rainfall, erosion, runoff and sedimentation. While that wobble IS observed today, evolutionary geologists assume, based on their a priori belief in millions of years, that this wobble and its effects can be extrapolated back through millions and millions of years. Because the wobble is cyclical, they look for cyclical patterns in the sedimentary layers. Then they align those patterns in the wobble to date the cyclical patterns in the sedimentary layers accordingly. However, this method is ALL based on two unprovable assumptions—one, that the wobble can be extrapolated back millions of years (because the earth is assumed to be millions of years old), and two, that the cyclical patterns in the sedimentary layers are even related to the earth’s wobble.
The precise dates obtained from the uranium-lead dating of the zircon crystals reflect a more consistent laboratory methodology, but precision does not guarantee accuracy. Precise results may be mathematically impressive, but accuracy involves how closely the conclusions reflect reality. For data like this, there is no objective scientific standard by which to assess the accuracy of the dates. The researchers themselves note in their paper several sources of error, which they have to overcome by making numerous secondary assumptions, in addition to the three main unverifiable assumptions about the unobservable past that the dating method itself is based on. And of course the authors ignore the biblical record of history—the global Flood that affected the geology of the entire earth. Nevertheless, because the results seem to agree with astrochronology and to affirm an association between Triassic fossils and flood basalts, the researchers are quite pleased with the results.
Of course, though we cannot accept the researchers’ geochronologic interpretations, Dr. Snelling points out:
It doesn’t bother us if there is a connection between the mass burials and the catastrophic volcanic eruptions, because that’s EXACTLY what we would expect during the Flood cataclysm.
Scripture records that the global Flood was associated with the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep (Genesis 7:11), which biblical Flood geologists understand to be volcanic activity. Thus it is no surprise to find that massive effusions of magma correlate with the fossil layers burying billions of organisms. This is exactly what we would expect as the violent rising waters of the Flood overwhelmed various habitats and buried the organisms in them.
Evolutionists interpret the final appearance of many organisms in the fossil record as a record of the evolution and extinction of those plants and animals. And because strata containing similar patterns occur all over the world, evolutionists consider these to represent several mass extinctions. They consider the Triassic extinction to be one of the largest and date it, in this study, at 201,564,000 years ago. However, all the dates obtained in this study—no matter how precise they are and whether they are in agreement or not—are interpretations based on unverifiable assumptions.
The Flood geology model explains much of the fossil record on the basis of the historical global Flood. While extinction may have occurred for some organisms at the time of the Flood, these so-called mass-extinctions are the record of the catastrophic burial but not necessarily the extinction of these organisms. The “mass extinctions” in the fossil record are just regions representing the massive burial of organisms swept together from various ecosystems.18
Thus, the association of massive volcanism with “billions of dead things buried in rock layers”19 makes sense in light of the global Flood. The flood basalts must have come from the catastrophic upwelling of mantle plumes, a scenario that fits the catastrophic plate tectonics model of geologic activity associated with the Flood of Noah’s time. And the fact that pollen grains appear just below the volcanic record of sudden catastrophe and that more living things appear soon “after” the “mass extinctions,” when interpreted in light of the global Flood burying the occupants of successive habitats, along with organisms swept in from elsewhere, also makes sense.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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The United States Supreme Court affirmed “the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control” way back in 1925 in the case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters. The high court ruled that this right was guaranteed under the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The Due Process clause guarantees:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United Sates; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) ruled that a parent has a fundamental right to “establish a home and bring up children” and the right to “worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.” And in Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), the court supported the rights of parents to keep their children out of public schools for religious reasons. Clearly, our highest court has affirmed that liberty to direct the upbringing of one’s children is a fundamental right. See Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens by Michael Farris, Purcellville, Virginia: Home School Legal Defense Association, 2006, page 481–487, www.hslda.org, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling_in_the_United_States to learn more.Back
Niemöller delivered this speech to many groups. This is one version:
“First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.Back
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Discover how compromise starting in Genesis has filtered down from Christian seminaries and colleges to pastors—and finally to parents and their children. This erosive legacy is seen in generations of young people leaving the church—two-thirds of them. Get the facts, discover God’s truth, and help bring a new reformation to churches and families by helping to call them back to the authority of God’s Word.
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