Biotech Firm Will Make Alternatives To Fetal Vaccines

In a victory for pro-life families around the world, AVM Biotechnology LLC (AVM Biotech) announced on February 29 its decision to provide ethical alternatives in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and vaccine development. Dr Theresa Deisher, AVM Biotech Research and Development director and founder, stated, "We will be working to bring commercially available, morally acceptable, vaccines to the U.S. market and to use existing technology to produce new morally-certified vaccines. Revenues from the vaccine business will also further the research, development, and commercialization of morally-certified therapeutics in other areas of medicine as well."

While most vaccines and medicines are produced in an ethical manner, several are manufactured using cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue with no competing ethical products available. Debi Vinnedge, who heads a pro-life organization, Children of God for Life, noted this has left concerned pro-life families in both a difficult and unjust position.

Both organizations hope the news will spark Congress to move forward with its Fair Labeling and Informed Consent legislation, a bill that would require full disclosure from the pharmaceutical industry whenever aborted fetal or embryonic cell lines are used in medical products.

California School Head Assures Homeschoolers "No Policy Change"

"The California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state," Supt. Jack O'Connell has stated.

After the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles ruled on February 28 that parents had to be credentialed teachers to educate their own children-effectively making most of the state's estimated 166,000 home schools illegal- the statement from O'Connell is encouraging news for the homeschool community, said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

"But the court decision must still be overturned before homeschool freedom can be restored in California."

The Court of Appeal ruling shocked the homeschool community because in one sweeping decision it effectively outlawed homeschooling. "We hope the statement from O'Connell puts the brakes on any enforcement action," said Farris.

HSLDA will be pursuing several legal options, including seeking review by the California Supreme Court and petitioning the same court to depublish the opinion in order to return California to being a state where a family can legally homeschool without fear. "We have just started the legal battle to restore homeschool freedom in California," Farris said.

Already a resolution has been introduced in the State Assembly condemning the court's opinion and asking the State Supreme Court to "depublish" it.

While the legal opinion resulted from a case involving 2 children in one family in one court's jurisdiction, it potentially could become a recognized precedent far beyond that district and even beyond state borders.

Harris also said plans are being laid for a national campaign pushing a constitutional amendment on parental rights.

Information drawn from HSLDA Weekly Updates

China Harasses Christians Ahead of Beijing Olympics

With increased frequency, the Chinese government is persecuting house churches and banishing foreign Christians from the country, presumably to squelch voices who might draw attention to the plight of religious minorities in the nation surrounding the Beijing Olympics.

"We seem to be seeing a crackdown ahead of the Olympics, scheduled for Aug. 8-24. Whether that's to send a message to the church to lay low or whether it is to make sure that anybody who might cause international embarrassment is taken care of ahead of time, I don't know," said Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs. "But we do see an increase in the level of arrests, the level of house church services being raided, that sort of activity.

"We also have seen a number of Christian foreigners who have been denied renewals of their visas and told that they had to leave the country," Nettleton added. He noted that about 20% of China's Christians are part of the official church-the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Catholic version approved by the government-while the other 80% go to unregistered or unofficial churches. "They don't actually have permission from the government to meet together, so their activities are illegal and they can be arrested," Nettleton said of the 80%.

Baptist Press

Christians Slain by Truck Bomb Blasts In Lahore, Pakistan

Twin suicide bombs killed more than 31 people and injured 200 in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan, on March 11. Two suicide attackers detonated two large truck bombs, one hitting the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) police headquarters and destroying nearby key Christian buildings, and the other targeting an advertising firm, police and Christian officials said. "The impact of the blast was so powerful that it broke all the windows and doors of [our office]," said Atif Jamil, national director of Christian aid agency Caritas, located near the FIA complex. The blasts killed the watchman of the Caritas office, two female Christian receptionists and a trainee identified as Clara Yousaf.

Assist News Service, BosNewsLife via MissionNet

Extremists Lure/Force Hundreds of "Christians" Back to Hinduism

Hindu extremists recently carried out a well-planned scheme to lure to a temple and forcibly convert scores of Christians from villages around Shimla, the capital city of northern India's Himachal Pradesh State. Offering money, making threats or leading the Christians to believe they were going to government offices for official paperwork, Hindu extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) lured the believers to a Hindu temple on Feb. 27. Once there, a haranguing speaker and others pressured about 200 people to reconvert, forcing many of them to participate in rituals and purification ceremonies. Ramlal Kanol, a blind man who has a healing and preaching ministry in Bhutti village, said four men came to his house on Tuesday, Feb. 26, first offering him money to go with them, then threatening to imprison and fine him if he didn't. "They threatened me, asking me to continue my work with the poor and healing the sick, but in the name of Ram, not Christ," he said.

Compass Direct News via MissionNet

Huge Crowds Hear Luis Palau Preach In Buenos Aires

Hundreds of miles and decades removed from the world's broadest street, Buenos Aires' famed Ave. 9 de Julio, a young Matilde Palau prayed daily that her son Luis would someday impact the world for Christ. On the weekend of March 14-15, global evangelist Luis Palau's Si A La Vida festival brought an historic response to a mother's prayer as the Argentine capital saw an estimated 300,000 on Friday and 500,000 on Saturday fill the avenue for one of the largest faith celebrations ever seen in South America.

More than 16,000 "decision cards" were collected at preliminary events and on the weekend, with officials anticipating thousands more as festival follow-up continued. The festival was an unprecedented cooperative effort among government officials, the media, and thousands of churches. The Palau team reported that the media coverage surpassed any experienced by the Palau ministry in over four decades of outreach.

From a Palau Ministry news release

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