Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
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Supreme Court rejects challenge to Seattle minimum wage law
Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge by business groups to a trendsetting Seattle law that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, leaving in place a lower court’s decision to uphold the statute.

Is religious liberty an American foreign policy priority?
Travis Wussow, ERLC

For everyone (and on this site we hope this is everyone) who has read Hayek’s Road to Serfdom before, feel free to “reread” it for the cartoons. For everyone else: read it now.

Illinois school settles separation of church and state case
Alan Scher Zagier , Associated Press

An Illinois public school that requires students who ride the bus to arrive early for optional religious instruction at a Roman Catholic parish has agreed to discontinue the practice in response to a legal challenge.

While the designation of countries of particular concern this year was an important step, the United States can be doing more. Promoting and protecting international religious freedom must be a key priority within American foreign policy.

The Road To Serfdom, In Cartoons
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge

For everyone (and on this site we hope this is everyone) who has read Hayek’s Road to Serfdom before, feel free to “reread” it for the cartoons. For everyone else: read it now.

Angel of Mercy and Lady JusticeIn a new essay for the Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg discusses why it’s dangerous to to overemphasize any one facet of Christian teaching at the expense of a different teaching. No matter what is overemphasized, this will distort the Gospel. The focus of this essay is “mercy” and how mercy leads “to the ultimate source of justice–the God who is love–and thus prevents justice from collapsing into something quite anti-human.”

Gregg describes the three ways mercy can be distorted: as sentimentalism, as injustice, and as mediocrity. When describing mercy as injustice, Gregg warns that “it quickly undermines any coherent conception of justice.”

Back in 1980, John Paul warned in Dives in Misericordia that “In no passage of the Gospel message does forgiveness, or mercy as its source, mean indulgence towards evil, towards scandals, towards injury or insult. In any case, reparation for evil and scandal, compensation for injury, and satisfaction for insult are conditions for forgiveness” (DM 14). If that sounds tough-minded, that’s because it is. Remember, however, that the Jesus Christ who embodies mercy isn’t the equivalent of a divine stuffed animal. Whenever the Scriptures portray Christ offering mercy to sinners, his forgiveness is always laced with a gentle but clear reminder of the moral law and the expectation that the sinful acts will be discontinued.

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USCIRF-2016“By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission’s last Annual Report in 2015,” says the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “From the plight of new and longstanding prisoners of conscience, to the dramatic rise in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, to the continued acts of bigotry against Jews and Muslims in Europe, and to the other abuses detailed in this report, there was no shortage of attendant suffering worldwide.”

In the USIRF’s 2016 report, which the State Department released earlier today, the commission notes that the incarceration of prisoners of conscience “remains astonishingly widespread, occurring in country after country, and underscores the impact of the laws and policies that led to their imprisonment.”

The report highlights numerous examples of state-sponsored persecution of Christians, such as that occurring in the East African country of Eritrea:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 2, 2016
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You Are $13,000 Poorer Because of Federal Regulations
Ronald Bailey, Reason.com

New study quantifies the damage to economic growth that the accumulation of regulations causes.

Frugality is Hard to Afford
A. Yesim Orhun and Mike Palazzolo, Social Science Research Network

We find that the financial losses low income households incur due to underutilization of these strategies can be as large as half of the savings they accrue by purchasing cheaper brands.

US Commission on Civil Rights Fails to Understand Religious Liberty Laws
Jane Clark Scharl, The Daily Signal

A nine-page dissent released by two members of the eight-member commission defended both the commonsense nature of the religious freedom legislation attacked by the majority and the motives of those advocating for such laws.

Are We Going in Circles Concerning Freedom and Economic Growth?
James Clark, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Economic freedom and flourishing may be correlated, but this does not tell us whether there is a direct causal relationship between them.

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Obama addressing students at his town hall meeting in London. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

There’s not a lot of agreement when it comes to the Great Recession and the 2008 financial crisis; either about what caused it or what ended it. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama blamed the “reckless behavior of a lot of financial institutions around the globe” and “the folks on Wall Street” for causing this economic slump. Who or what finally ended this recession? According to President Obama: President Obama. While reflecting on what his presidency will be remembered for, he said, “I don’t think I’ll have a good sense of my legacy until 10 years from now when I can look back with some perspective and get a sense of what worked and what didn’t. There are things I’m proud of … Saving the world economy from a Great Depression, that was pretty good.” Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, was “startled” by the president’s claim.

In a new piece for The Stream, Gregg argues that far from saving the planet, the president and government “probably mucked things up.” While he agrees that banks’ recklessness were partially to blame for the financial crisis, government agencies and their poor policies had a bigger effect:

Back in December 2007, the Nobel economist Vernon Smith warned that the activities of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were buttressed by the assumption that, as government-sponsored enterprises with lower capital-requirements than private institutions, they could always look to the Federal government for assistance if unusually high numbers of their clients defaulted. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Smith underscored, had always been understood as “implicitly taxpayer-backed agencies.” Hence they continued what are now recognized as their politically driven and fiscally irresponsible lending policies until both were consigned to Federal conservatorship in September 2008.

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Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson

In honor of the 2016 Wilberforce Weekend, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview sponsored and the Washington Times Advocacy Department prepared a special report on energizing and equipping Christian leadership in the spirit of William Wilberforce.

In the section on honoring the late Chuck Colson and his legacy, the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute, discusses the common bond he shared with the evangelical leader:

Here is what I wanted to say in conclusion, and that is that Chuck Colson was no fake ecumenist. Chuck Colson was not interested in the form of ecumenism, where people would politely talk with one another so as to negotiate away the truths of the faith so that we can talk about how we liked one another so much.

Chuck was a man of real faith, a real conviction and a real honesty. He was also a man who is captivated by Jesus Christ, and it is that that drew he and I together, along with people like Cardinal Avery Dulles and Father Richard John Neuhaus, of happy memory. That was his ecumenism. His idea of ecumenism was that as we move closer to Jesus Christ, we look around and find that we have also moved closer to each other.

Read more . . .

“I never saw a supply and demand curve in seminary. I should have.”

This was written by Virginia Congressman David Brat in an academic paper back in 2011, when he was still an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College. The paper offers a unique exploration of the intersections of economics, policy, and theology, promoting a holistic view of economic freedom and social justice united with Christian witness.

Brat, who holds both a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D in economics, has been in Congress for just over a year, and in a recent interview with Ben Domenech, it appears as though he’s retained much of that original perspective.

The discussion covers a range of subjects (economics, education, foreign policy), but one of the more striking bits comes when Domenech asks Brat about the decline of religion in American life and the corresponding erosion of local communities and civic institutions. Brat’s response is wide and varied, but he begins by noting that modern society as a whole is now in “uncharted territory.” (more…)