Another Decision on Tax Credits
The following brief article appeared in the March/April issue of Liberty magazine:
The Minnesota Supreme Court in a 7-0 decision has ruled unconstitutional the 1971 law that provided tax credits or refunds to parents of children attending private and parochial schools.
The court—from which four justices disqualified themselves because of personal connections with church-related schools and to which two retired justices were added—said the law violates the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion, as interpreted in recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The court refused to decide on the constitutionality of the law passed by the 1974 Minnesota legislature.
The law provides that parents who have received such credits or refunds need not repay the money to the State if the tax-credit law is held unconstitutional.
In “Dictum”—part of the opinion not related to the issue for court, and thus not binding—the Minnesota court gave strong support to the so-called “shared time” concept in which nonpublic school children take part in classes at, and use facilities of, public schools.
According to the State revenue department, 44,308 families received tax credits totaling $10.7 million this year.
Imitators of the World
The following brief article appeared on “The President’s Page” of Lutherans Alert Magazine.
It is both interesting and tragic to note how quickly the church imitates the world. It seems that no matter upon what social issue the world embarks the church is not far behind. To this writer at least, the church is like our old friend Gomer Pyle trying to get in step with the army. The world marches forward with its leftist ideas and the church tries frantically to get in step. Illustrations are numerous. The Supreme Court passes on the legality of abortion so the church adds its endorsement. The gay society in America demands recognition for its immoral practices, so the church sets up “meaningful dialogues” with them at church conventions. The A.I.M. makes menacing gestures .of their rights as American natives, so the church gives “mission money” to foster further racial tensions and along with Marlon Brando castigates 3rd and 4th generation Americans for violating Indian treaty rights.
Now we come to the latest in this bizarre attempt at conventionalism—women’s lib! Here again the church is desperately trying to catch up with the latest fad. As a case in point, the ALC (American Lutheran Church; Lutherans- Alert Magazine is the mouthpiece of a conservative group within this denomination; H.H.) has appointed 10 persons (8 women and 2 men) to a task force concerned for full participation of women in the life of the American Lutheran Church. Their task, which was authorized by the 1974 ALC church convention in Detroit, Michigan, will be to make recommendations to the ALC church council on such subjects as: women as ordained clergy, the changing roles of pastors and their mates in congregational ministry, vocational potential of women in professional church service, ALC employment policies, increased frequency of divorce in American society and sexist language in ALC communications.
One does not need to be a divine prophet to predict the findings of this committee. The church will be asked to accept what the world is already accepting.
What about. God’s Word in all of this? It can certainly be stated with emphasis that there is no teaching of women’s lib in the Bible! But, again, as has been said so frequently; when the inerrancy of Holy Scripture goes, anything goes!
The RES Newsletter of March 4, 1975 contained the following interesting bit of ecumenical news:
An international Lutheran-Reformed Joint Committee will meet in Strasbourg, France, March 17-22. One of the main items on its agenda will be proposals for the formation of a “Universal Council.” The proposal has received serious scrutiny by executive committees from both the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Representatives from the Faith and Order Secretariat of the World Council of Churches will also participate in the Joint Committee discussions. Also up for discussion is the “Leuenberg Agreement” and its theological implications. In addition, Lutheran-Reformed relations and theological conversations on national and regional levels around the world will be reviewed.
Over 80 churches have now signed the “Leuenberg Agreement” which aims to bring about full altar and pulpit fellowship among European churches of the Reformation. A Lutheran theologian, T. Bachmann, characterizing the Agreement said that is “differs from the historic church confessions in that it is not only a statement of what is central to the Christian faith but also a testimony of mutual trust among hitherto separated churches. The December ’74 issue of Reformed World (quarterly of WARC) is devoted to an analysis of Leuenberg.
North American Presbyterian And Reformed Council
For some, time we have wanted to report on this new venture in ecumenicity among Reformed and Presbyterian Churches. The occasion recently presented itself with a brief history of the movement in The Banner.
The movement began in Jackson, Mississippi on February 27, 1974 when a group of men decided to bring together the inter-church relations committees of their denominations to study closer relations. This meeting was held in Pittsburgh on October 25, 26, 1974. Six denominations were represented: Christian Reformed, Orthodox Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church in America, Reformed Presbyterian Church (Evangelical Synod), Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America. Observers were present from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian .Church and the Reformed Church in the United States (Eureka Classis). After a great deal of discussion the group decided to appoint a subcommittee “to prepare a plan for cooperation and relationship of the respective churches.”
After a meeting in Chicago and one in Philadelphia, certain decisions were reached which will be submitted for approval to the respective general assemblies and synods of the participating churches. These include a constitution and by-laws for a “North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council.” The Banner reports the following:
The Council is to consist of no more than four representatives of each of the participating churches and will normally meet once a year. Its shape is best indicated by a quotation of three articles of the proposed constitution:
“II. BASIS OF THE COUNCIL
“In commitment to Jesus Christ as only Savior and Sovereign Lord over all of life, the basis for the fellowship of Presbyterian and Reformed churches is full commitment both to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the infallible Word of God and to their teachings as set forth in the Reformed standards, namely, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dordt, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
“III. PURPOSE AND FUNCTION
“1. Facilitate discussion and consultation between member bodies on, those issues and problems which divide them as well as on those which they face in common, and by the sharing of insights ‘communicate advantages to one another’ (Institutes, IV. 2.1):
“2. Promote the appointment of joint committees to study matters of common interest and concern.
“3. Exercise mutual concern in the perpetuation, retention, and propagation of the Reformed faith.
“4. Promote cooperation wherever possible and feasible on the local and denominational level in the areas of: missions, relief efforts, Christian schools, church education, etc.
“IV. NATURE AND EXTENT OF AUTHORITY
“It is understood that all actions and decisions taken are advisory in character and in no way curtail or restrict the autonomy of the member bodies.”
Violence on TV
It is generally conceded among God’s people that television is a powerful instrument for. evil; that, while it is not wrong to have a television set in the family living room, a Christian must use a great deal of sanctified discretion in choosing what he himself watches and what he permits his children to watch. But the fare offered on TV sometimes gets so bad that even worldly and ungodly people raise howls of protest and periodically call the networks to account for their lack of concern over .what comes on the TV screen.
The March 10 issue of Newsweek described a recent and rising outcry concerning the violence on TV. A 1972 Surgeon General’s Report contained the findings of a group of men who studied the relation between violence on TV and crime in the streets. The conclusions of this report were inconclusive. The networks went right ahead and increased the number of shows depicting violence of one kind or another. According to Newsweek, “Twenty years ago, ‘action-adventure programming’ (a cherished network euphemism for ‘shoot-’em-ups’) accounted for less than 20 per cent of all prime-time offerings. Today that figure has soared to 60 percent, propelled by no fewer than 24 current crime series.” Recent studies have been more explicit about the relation between violence on TV and crime. Those who have paid attention to the matter claim that they have hard evidence that violence on TV has two bad effects: it increases the amount of crime and it hardens viewers to be insensitive to crime and violence even when they themselves do not actually engage in violence.
While it is all rather stupid that extensive studies have to be made about something so completely obvious, the resulting outcry has forced networks to adopt a new policy according to which the first hour of prime time (between 8 and 9 P.M.) will be reserved for shows that are “suitable for family viewing.” Then the networks can return to their blood and gore.
The trouble is that no one has defined explicitly what “suitable family viewing” is. Nor can anyone guarantee that children will not watch TV after 9. A recent survey showed that there were still 5 million children under the age of 11 watching TV between 10 and 11 o’clock at night. And no one is talking either about the effects of violence on adults.
This problem is only one small facet of the evils of TV. And it brings sharply to the foreground the question of whether a child of God can invest the kind of money a TV purchase requires in such a set and still be a good steward in the house of God.