Dispatches > News

The race begins

"The race begins" Continued...

Issue: "Upside down," April 9, 2011

Home invasion

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld a decision that bars a mother from continuing to homeschool her daughter. For six years, divorced parents Brenda and Martin Kurowski have battled over educating their daughter at home or in a public school. While the Supreme Court emphasized that the case was not about religion or the merits of homeschooling, the father claims homeschooling isolates his daughter among members of her own religion. Despite admitting that the girl was intellectually advanced and had opportunities to socialize outside church and home, a trial court decided it was in the girl's best interest to attend public school. In a statement, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco said that although ADF disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision, it appreciates the court's narrow ruling based on the facts of the case: "This decision cannot be used as a battering-ram against religious liberty or homeschooling."

March calmness

Haitian voters welcomed a rarity in the strife-ridden Caribbean nation in mid-March: a relatively peaceful election. Voters at more than 11,000 polling stations cast ballots in the country's long-delayed presidential run-off. Preliminary results were due by March 31, and final results by April 16. Election observers said the March contests ran smoothly compared to the chaotic and fraudulent November elections that led to days of rioting in Port-au-Prince.

As Haitians waited to find out which candidate would prevail (pop singer Michel Martelly or former first lady Mirlande Manigat), another political leader grabbed attention: Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti from a seven-year exile in South Africa just two days before the March elections. Thousands of supporters greeted Aristide at the airport, but the former priest-turned-president didn't interfere with the contests.

Meanwhile, another former president-ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier-laid low, weeks after shocking the island nation with his return. His low profile may stem from his current troubles: After crowds of supporters welcomed Duvalier in January, Haitian attorneys filed charges against the figure known as "Baby Doc," and the infamous former leader waits to find out if his homecoming will turn into a prison sentence. - Jamie Dean

Another iAttack

Apple removed a faith-based group's iPhone app from its iTunes Store on March 22 after more than 150,000 people signed a petition urging the action. The app, from Exodus International, "violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told FoxNews.

Exodus is a Christian ministry that uses biblical teaching to help those struggling with same-sex attraction. Truth Wins Out, a gay-rights group, called the ministry's app "hateful and bigoted" and initiated the petition drive to remove it. Prior to its removal, the app had received a 4+ rating from Apple, meaning that it did not have any objectionable content and was suitable for users of all ages.

The app, which was an extension of the group's website, allowed iPhone owners to access directly information about ministry events, news, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and the group's Facebook page. One feature addressed bullying from a biblical perspective. "We are extremely disappointed to learn of Apple's decision to deny equal representation in the public square," said Exodus President Alan Chambers in a statement. "Discrimination of thought and belief obstructs essential dialogue and authentic diversity."

A similar petition drive last November led Apple to pull an app created by the Manhattan Declaration-a document affirming Christian belief in the sanctity of life and marriage. (See "iAttack," Dec. 2, 2010.)

Religious war

Muslim youths shot and killed two Christians on March 21 as they left a church prayer service in Hyderabad, Pakistan, a city close to Karachi. Yunis Ilyas, 47, was a father of four, and Jameel Masih, 21, was newly married. Two others were injured and one remains in critical condition. As Christians were arriving for the service, the Muslims had been shouting insults at the women, and the Christians urged them to stop, according to officials with the Barnabas Fund who know Ilyas and his family through the Fund's food program and spoke with the pastor of the church after the shooting. As the Christians were leaving the service, the youths returned and began shooting. The murders follow the recent assassinations of two prominent advocates for the Christian minority in Pakistan: Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in Pakistan's cabinet, and Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, who had called for reform of laws that make criticism of Islam punishable by death.

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