Insight on the News
A Father’s Influence
● “The biggest surprise following the evaluation of [a German survey on children and religion] was the role of the father,” reports “The German Tribune.” “The survey showed that it is the positive attitude towards religion on the part of the father which imparts religious knowledge to older children and promotes religious contact.”
The “Tribune” notes that prior to the study by Gisela Pannen of the Teachers’ Training College in Neuss, near Cologne, it had “been assumed that the mother had the greater influence on the child’s religiousness due to her principal role in its upbringing.”
No doubt, as Originator of the family, Jehovah knew where to place the responsibility when he inspired the apostle Paul to say: “You, fathers, . . . go on bringing [your children] up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) Of course, mothers also have a major role in raising children, and circumstances may even require that they carry the entire responsibility. Thus the Bible often ties parental responsibilities together, as when stating: “Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” Timothy’s mother, Eunice, certainly was a successful parent even without the aid of a believing husband.—Prov. 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14, 15.
Religious Freedom ‘Expanded’
● In a ruling described by the Associated Press as “dramatically expanding on-the-job religious freedom,” the U.S. Supreme Court declared that a worker who quits his job because of religious beliefs remains eligible for unemployment payments. An Indiana steelworker, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, had been transferred to a tank turret assembly line from his former job of producing sheet steel. When he quit because there were no nonmilitary jobs available with the company, he was denied state unemployment benefits. The denial was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court because the court felt that his reasons for quitting did not meet the requirement of “good cause.”
However, eight of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices disagreed. “It is not for us to say that the line he drew was an unreasonable one,” wrote Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in the ruling. “Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.” The court said that when a state denies an important benefit “because of conduct mandated by religious belief, thereby putting substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs, a burden upon religion exists” that is unconstitutional.
“Time” magazine’s report on the ruling began with the Scripture quotation: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares.—Isaiah 2:4.” (“Authorized Version”) Certainly it is up to the individual conscience, not the courts, as Chief Justice Burger stated, to be the ‘arbiter of Scriptural interpretation’ when it comes to applying such principles in one’s life.
Pillaging Not a Sin?
● Brazil’s “Drought of the Century,” the worst since 1877, covers an area of the northeast part of the country that is greater than France and Italy together and has seriously affected the lives of 13 million of its inhabitants. During March, 39 cities in four states were invaded by hundreds of hungry drought victims demanding food. In some cities where their demands were not met immediately, stores and warehouses were plundered.
Cardinal Aloísio Lorscheider of Fortaleza, capital of affected Ceará State, declared: “A person who finds himself in extreme necessity can lawfully take the quantity of material goods that others would be obliged to give him as a charitable duty.”
Cardinal Lorscheider did not indicate the basis for his declaration that circumstances can make pillaging lawful. However, if he had based his counsel on that of “Saint” Peter, he would have said: “None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer.” And if this should result in suffering hunger until government relief comes, Christians will still “obey the governing authorities,” as the Bible commands.—1 Pet. 4:15; Rom. 13:1, Catholic “Jerusalem Bible.”