WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - APRIL 29, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Harvard Professor Blasts Homeschooling: ‘Dangerous’ for Parents to have ‘Authoritarian Control Over Their Children’
Featured in an article for Harvard Magazine, Elizabeth Bartholet — Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School's Child Advocacy Program — argued that homeschooling for children is simply a means for depriving children of any "meaningful education." In the article, "The Risks of Homeschooling," Bartholet wrote, "We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling. If you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything." She pointed out that children are missing out on the experience of a public education and will likely not be able to contribute to a democratic society because of their lack of such an experience and such "detrimental" isolation. "The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18?" she asked. "I think that's dangerous. I think it's always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.” She continued, "From the beginning of compulsory education in this country, we have thought of the government as having some right to educate children so that they become active, productive participants in the larger society. But it's also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people's viewpoints." read more
These values that Professor Bartholet mentions differ from person to person. So the real question is, who has the authority to teach children--their parents, or the state? In the Bible, we find that God has delegated this authority to parents. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 instructs parents to diligently teach their children “all these words that I command you today”, which included instructions on history, civics, law, business, and human rights. While we as a society recognize the importance of education for every child and therefore are willing to fund it through the government, the sole authority remains with the parents. Parents have the right to decide whether they will be the facilitators of their child’s education, or entrust it to someone else. Elizabeth Bartholet does not believe our rights come from God but from the hand of government, and therefore she thinks that the burden of proof should be on the parents to show that they are justified in teaching their own children, as the article states. Thankfully, the article has received enormous pushback as many people recognize the dangerous policies these ideas would lead to. One honor graduate from Harvard University, Melba Pearson, wrote a viral response saying, "The idea that a government, already so inefficient and inadequate in so many areas, can care for and educate every child better than its parent is wrong." There are about 2.5 million homeschool students in grades K-12 in the United States and it appears that the homeschool population is continuing to grow at an estimated 2% to 8% per year.
Pray for the parents who already homeschool, and for the parents who are homeschooling their children for the first time due to the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders. Pray for God to give all parents a renewed sense of ownership and responsibility for their children’s education. And pray for God to provide parents with wisdom and peace as they raise their children. Pray for families to be strengthened and the relationship between parents and their children to grow during this time.
Homeschool Legal Defense Association is an experienced organization that protects the legal right of parents to homeschool their children. We encourage you to check out their helpful resources about homeschooling laws in your state, tips for homeschooling, and informative articles.
Christians Urged to Call for Release of Deacon Kidnapped, Imprisoned for Sharing the Gospel in North Korea
The Voice of the Martyrs in Korea has launched a global letter-writing campaign urging the release of an ethnic Korean Chinese Christian who was kidnapped from China six years ago, put in a North Korean prison, and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his ministry to North Korean people. Deacon Jang Moon Seok, who is also known by his Chinese name Zhang Wen Shi, is serving a prison sentence for defaming the regime, attempting to incite subversion of state power and providing aid and the Gospel to North Koreans, according to the U.S.-based group International Christian Concern. VOM’s Korea representative, Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, said North Korea kidnapped Jang to gather information about VOM’s ministry work in that country, particularly their work with Pastor Han — who was stabbed to death in Changbai in China (a town on the border between China and North Korea) over a year after Jang's arrest. “Though it is illegal to cross into China without permission, North Koreans often visit Chinese border towns to purchase goods for reselling in North Korea, to seek medicine or other help, and to conduct business,” explains Deacon Jang’s “prisoner profile,” which is part of the campaign. Jang regularly hosted visiting North Koreans in Changbai for days and weeks at a time before they returned to North Korea, giving them warm clothing, feeding them and providing supplies they might need for their return to North Korea. “He saw this as his Christian duty to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and care for the sick. As a believer, he also shared about his faith to those who were willing.” A number of North Korean visitors became Christians. read more
North Korea is considered to be the worst violator of human rights in the world, imprisoning approximately 80,000-120,000 people in labor and political prison camps, according to conservative estimates. Olivia Enos, a policy analyst in Asian studies at the Heritage Foundation, says some estimates the number of people who have died in those camps range from 400,000 to millions. It is illegal to own or read the Bible, or to follow any religion other than the state-mandated philosophy called Juche, which means “self-reliance”. North Korean citizens are taught that the dictator is divine, which is why the gospel of Jesus is a threat to the government’s control of its people. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American pastor who was held hostage by North Korea and released in 2014, was told, “We are not afraid of nuclear weapons...we are afraid of someone like you bringing religion into our country and using it against us and then everybody will turn to God and this will become God's country and we will fall." Recently, speculation has occurred over dictator Kim Jong Un’s health after a report from a South Korean news site said he was recovering from surgery. He has not appeared in public, and it is rumored that he may be in serious condition. While we rightly long for justice and freedom for North Korea, we must also remember Jesus’ command to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:45). Dr Eric Foley, a Release International partner who works with North Korean refugees, said: "I have never encountered a North Korean Christian who has prayed for the regime to be overthrown, not once in 15 years. Underground Christians are praying that Kim Jong-Un will come to know Christ.”
Keep Deacon Zhang Wen Shi in your prayers, remembering him as if you were in prison with him (Hebrews 13:3). Pray that God will give him endurance, remind him of the truth, and enable him to show the love of Jesus to his guards and fellow prisoners. Pray for our brothers in sisters in North Korea as they face extreme persecution. Pray also for Kim Jong Un that he will repent and receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The organization, Open Doors has more specific prayer requests from those inside North Korea here.
Please participate in writing a brief letter to the North Korean Ambassador to ask for the release of Zhang Wen Shi.
Josh McDowell Warns that the Pandemic Could Increase Loneliness, Depression, and Porn Use
Christian author and teacher Josh McDowell recently shared his concerns that the COVID-19 lockdowns are going to fan the flames on two major issues already facing American culture: pornography addiction and loneliness. According to CBN News, McDowell expounds on these issues in a document on his website called “What Comes Next?” McDowell, author of Evidence that Demands a Verdict and other books aimed at helping Christians to defend and share their faith, claims that before the pandemic, “three top themes in mental health that were reaching epidemic proportion were: 1) Pornography addiction, 2) Loneliness, and 3) Anxiety, depression, as well as other issues. These themes have been true globally in nearly every culture.” He then expressed his concern that “The COVID-19 lockdown will not pacify any of the three previous epidemics. Isolation will only exacerbate anxiety, depression, pornography addiction, loneliness, and mental health problems.” He fears the pandemic will only accelerate issues related to loneliness and isolation. He said that the period after the pandemic will be, “a time characterized by intense anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other mental health issues.” He said that this will be especially true with college students, two-thirds of whom already reported feeling “very lonely.” He added, “that can be as hard on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness can also lead to higher rates of death, illness, injury, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure.” read more
Josh McDowell also highlighted the effect the shelter-in-place will have on pornography consumption. According to a Barna Group Study conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, 47 percent of people between the ages of 36 and 60 struggle with pornography, and a shocking 57 percent of pastors and 64 percent of youth pastors also struggle with pornography. These numbers should remind us that sin abounds, particularly in secret. All of us have fallen short (Romans 3:23) and are in desperate need of a Savior. We need His Holy Spirit to guide us in a relationship with Him and a life that brings Him glory (John 14:25-26). Another report by the Kaiser Family Foundation notes that worry and stress about the coronavirus is negatively impacting peoples’ mental health. In March, the report found 45 percent said the virus was having an impact on their mental health. The study also revealed women were 16 percent more likely to say their mental health had been negatively impacted. Even amid these somewhat discouraging statistics, God is at work. Over Easter weekend, the Christian organization Pulse put together a Good Friday Program with talks from Nick Hall, apologist Ravi Zacharias, Pastor Max Lucado, Pastor Francis Chan, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, and many others. The service aired in nearly 100 countries, including Ukraine, Russia, China, Nepal, and India, just to name a few. The response was overwhelming. More than 100,000 people from across the globe responded to the call and professed their faith in Jesus Christ. Many are calling this the start of the Great Quarantine Revival. We praise God for the work he is doing amid this global crisis.
Pray and ask the Lord who you can reach out to and encourage during this time. Pray for God to meet every lonely heart, bring joy and hope to those who are depressed, and to those struggling with addiction, that they would reject what is evil and hold fast to the truth of God’s Word.
Check out the incredible resources to help strengthen your family by our friends over at Promise Keepers. You will be encouraged by their devotionals and the community they have established to build up Godly men.
Sen. Rand Paul Warns US Debt Nearing 'Point of No Return', Backs Calls to Reopen Economy
A new coronavirus relief package passed Congress Thursday night, bringing nearly $500 billion in aid for American businesses that are struggling to survive the COVID-19 closures. As the COVID-19 pandemic cratered the economy, the White House vowed to spend whatever it takes to help the American people recover. Now, four relief bills and almost $3 trillion later, some are warning about future consequences from the unprecedented spending. Before the ink was even dry on the latest multi-billion dollar aid package this week, talks in Congress were already underway for more mammoth spending, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says it's time to pump the breaks. "Unless we get our economy up and running again there is not any way we can spend enough to continue to prop up the country," warned McConnell. The $2.8 trillion price tag of the relief bills thus far sparked this warning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). "The gargantuan federal bailout that just passed over $2 trillion brings us closer and closer to a point of no return," said Paul on the Senate floor this week. "A point at which the world loses confidence in the dollar. A point at which our debt becomes an existential threat to our security." Paul agrees with McConnell that reopening the economy is the only way out. "No amount of money, not all the money in China, will save us from ourselves," added Paul. "Our only hope of rescuing this great country is to reopen the economy." President Trump says he's concerned with the growing debt, but there hasn't been another choice. "I'm always concerned about everything. We had to fix this problem because we were attacked," said Trump at a press conference Wednesday. read more
Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell recognize that the only way to produce true prosperity for businesses and individuals is to let them work. Government relief checks do not produce wealth, they simply redistribute or borrow it, which produces debt. The only way to produce wealth is through individuals and businesses participating in the free market. A strong, prosperous America means a safer world, as we will more effectively be able to keep authoritarian governments in check. Opening the economy will also enable us to be more generous toward those who have been financially devastated by the pandemic. In an interview with Fox News, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he believes the economy will quickly bounce back during the summer as small businesses begin to reopen in May and June, and believes the stimulus package will aid in helping those businesses reopen. Of course, that depends partly on how many Americans will be willing to shop, travel, and eat in restaurants in the coming months. In other news, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem received a parade on Monday of grateful first responders, construction workers, and other people who appreciated her decision to keep the state open. She had previously stated, "The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety," Noem added. "They are the ones that are entrusted with expansive freedoms — they are free to exercise their rights to work, worship, and play — or to stay at home, or to conduct social distancing.” As we return to our work, let us remember those wise words and use our personal responsibility to care for the vulnerable among us while we go about our business.
Pray for wisdom for President Trump, our leaders in Congress, and the leaders in your state who are deciding how to move forward. Pray that they will be motivated only by what is best for the people they are committed to serving, and pray for their advisors as well.
Have you downloaded the free My Faith Votes government prayer guide? Check it out and download it here to pray faithfully for your leaders, by name.
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