sbbIn response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, Governor Sam Brownback issued a new executive order to ensure religious freedom protections for Kansas clergy and religious organizations.

In the majority opinion of Obergefell, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that, despite this newly invented “right” for same-sex couples to marry, religions and their adherents “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned,” and further, that “the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection.”

And yet, given the otherwise broad and blurry language of Kennedy’s opinion and the corresponding concerns of the dissenting justices, religious persons continue to worry.

As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.” (more…)

APTOPIX Charleston Shooting

Scene in Charleston after shooting.

In the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting in which nine people were killed during Bible study, debates and pushes for more gun control revived. Shooter Dylan Roof’s weapon of choice was a .45 caliber handgun with five extra magazines of ammunition. Rightly so, this heinous crime shocked the nation, especially religious communities. Calls for prayer and support for the victim’s families immediately followed the tragedy. Inevitably, these prayers were followed by new demands for gun controls.

Understandably, after such a depraved crime people react strongly, wanting to prevent any potential future occurrences. The president, evangelical leaders, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and other political and religious leaders all called for greater regulation of firearms. However, not enough policy advocates critically think about their positions and reason from first principles, considering philosophy and Natural Law before promoting drastic or even seemingly innocent changes. Many Catholic leaders, notably the USCCB, maintain a long standing position of campaigning for stricter gun laws and reducing the availability of firearms of all types. After examining the unintended consequences of gun laws and the flawed philosophy behind them however, one cannot remain consistent. (more…)

clover-power-stationWith the Supreme Court handing down significant rulings on such issues as housing, Obamacare, and same-sex marriage, it’s not surprising other decisions handed down last month received less attention. A prime example is the defeat the Court handed to President Obama administration’s agencies.

In the 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court recently struck down forthcoming EPA regulations concerning emissions of mercury and other toxins at power plants.  the Court pointed out that the EPA did not properly consider the costs of regulating such emissions from coal-fired power plants before imposing the regulations.

Congress had previously authorized the EPA to take any “appropriate and necessary” action to regulate power plants. In this case, the EPA found power plant regulation to be “appropriate” since the plants’ emissions pose risks to the environment and because controls capable of reducing these emissions were available. The agency also found regulation “necessary” because the imposition of other Clean Air Act requirements did not eliminate those risks.

But five of the nine justices found the EPA had failed to due diligence. “Read naturally in the present context, the phrase ‘appropriate and necessary’ requires at least some attention to cost,” wrote Justice Scalia in his opinion for the Court. “One would not say that it is even rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.”
(more…)

In a land long ago and faraway, before shows like “The Bachelor” and “How I Met Your Mother,” there was “The Twilight Zone.” Remember the shiver you got when that music came on? And “The Twilight Zone” was never a “horror” show – no maniacs running around chopping teens to bits after sexually assaulting them, all on screen of course. No, “The Twilight Zone” wanted to get you to think … and maybe a little scared.

Take this episode: The Obsolete Man, starring the incredible Burgess Meredith. It’s less than 25 minutes; watch it. Some of it will ring quite true, I’m sure. You see, a humble librarian has been declared (just as ministers are) “obsolete” in a society where neither books nor God exist. The State has done away with the former and proved the latter. The librarian insists that no man is obsolete, but his fate appears to be sealed.

kangblog“Because the Bible tells me so.”

Most of us think of that phrase as part of one of a beloved children’s hymns (“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”). But it’s also one of the most sophisticated premises for a moral argument. Because Scripture is a channel through which God’s self-revelation can be known, arguments based on moral appeals to the Bible (i.e., interpreted through proper contextualization and hermeneutical principles) should be particularly compelling and authoritative.

Unfortunately, this is rarely true when arguing with modern Christians, much less with non-believers. The problem is not with Scripture, of course, but with the reasoning abilities of the average person. Using Biblical arguments in moral discussions is often like using calculus to convince people who think arithmetic is akin to witchcraft: You first need to disentangle their confused worldview before they can even begin to understand.

That is why Christians often need to arm themselves with “translations” of moral appeals that are more comprehensible to people acclimatized to a culture of pluralism. “Secular” moral arguments are not better—often they lack the solid foundation of Biblical-based appeals—but for those who reject or can’t comprehend religious-based arguments, they can be more persuasive.

A good example is David Marcus’s argument in “The Amoral Case Against Paying For Sex.” Marcus agrees that we “need arguments against sex for pay that do not merely appeal to moral authority” and comes up with a clever and compelling comparison: prostitution is like predatory lending.

(more…)

Lake Karachay, Russia, often referred to as the most polluted lake on Earth

Lake Karachay, Russia, often referred to as the most polluted lake on Earth

At The Federalist, a round-table discussion brought up several issues regarding the encyclical, Laudato Si’. A quick reading of the discussion sees several themes emerge: the pope shouldn’t be writing about science, this encyclical comes down too heavily against free markets, and that modernity has much to offer in the way of solving humanity’s many problems.

Now, if free markets and capitalism are really to blame for pollution, it would stand to reason that those would be the countries with the worst ecological problems. That is not the case.

On the contrary, the management of the environment in communist countries has been and continues to be much worse than in capitalist ones. For example, Richard Fuller, president of the environmental non-profit Blacksmith Institute once identified the former Soviet Union as having “by far and away the worst problems…” when it comes to environmental protection and land use.

(more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
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Do the Pope and I live on the same planet?
Steven W. Mosher, New York Post

It is perhaps no coincidence that Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a radical environmentalist who had a part in drafting the encyclical, is a member of the Club of Rome. Schellnhuber was apparently selected for this role by Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Experts Debunk The Coal Industry’s “Energy Poverty” Argument Against The Pope’s Climate Action
Denise Robbins, Media Matters

Fossil fuel advocates are criticizing Pope Francis’ recent climate encyclical, claiming his call to phase out fossil fuels will harm the poor by preventing access to electricity and keeping them in “energy poverty.” But fossil fuels are not economically viable in most of the communities that suffer from a lack of electricity, and on-the-ground experts have explained that distributed renewable energy sources are often a more effective way to lift the world’s impoverished — who will be most affected by the adverse impacts of climate change — out of energy poverty.

Pope Francis’s Climate Warmup Act
Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast

With new allies like Naomi Klein and a tour of his Latin home turf, the pope is clearly getting ready to face off with Republican deniers and Big Oil during his U.S. visit in September.

Science and Religion Collaborate; Pope’s Encyclical Asserts Imperative Need to Halt Climate Change
Felix Balthasar, NewsMaine

Nonetheless, it is important to comprehend that Pope Francis intends to raise public awareness about the forthcoming perils in case the indispensible precautions are not taken now; it very effectively goes beyond religion and addresses the entire global population to adopt ‘changes in lifestyle, production and consumption’.

(more…)

c-s-lewis-348

C. S. Lewis

Silence took the place of applause as the room struggled to manifest a question to the finality of Peter Kreeft’s lecture; unfazed, the professor filled with excitement at the chance to quip the crowd quoting Aristotle: “human beings are curious by nature.” A smirk crept across his face as he both laid forth a potential congratulation for our ascension beyond curiosity as gods or the insult of being beasts below curiosity. With that, the air filled with questioning hands.

A few weeks ago at Acton University 2015, professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College and a prolific writer of Christian philosophy and apologetics, Peter Kreeft, taught the course: “Good, True, and Beautiful: C.S. Lewis.” Focusing on these three virtues known as cardinal or transcendental that are central to philosophical conceptions of God, Kreeft goes on as any philosopher must to define the three virtues and their place in the world. The cardinal “hinge” role of these virtues is because humanity never grows tired of goodness, truth, or beauty because these are the attributes of perfection, of God. Moreover, “everything God creates is imbued with these attributes to some extent” and Kreeft discussed their manifestation of the works of C.S. Lewis. (more…)

rockwell religionChuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint, spoke in a 2009 Breakpoint broadcast about religious liberty. His words apply even more today.

Allow me to make a very direct statement. I believe it is time for the Church in this country to stand up for religious freedom.

Especially over the course of the last few years, we have seen repeated efforts — in the courts, in state legislatures, in Congress and on Pennsylvania Avenue — to erode what has been called the first freedom: religious liberty. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
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An Eastern Orthodox Perspective On Laudato Si
John Chryssavgis, First Things

Permit me to tell you about a lesser known aspect of the papal encyclical; to offer a glimpse into a less obvious dimension of this document; to provide some insight into a very important relationship: namely, the connection between a pope and a patriarch.

Social Conservatives, Time To Drop The Grumpy Moralism: Joy Is More Powerful, And More Fun
An interview with Greg Forster, Forbes

Your book is “Joy for the World”. It’s interesting, when I read it, if you were here with me, I would show you that I wrote a two-word summary of the book in the inside cover. Two-word summary was “More singing!” with an exclamation point.

Does Freedom Need ‘Bootleggers’?
Dwight R. Lee, Regulation

Freedom “Baptists” may not need help from bootleggers.

Who-d a-thunk it? SF minimum wage increased 14% and local Chipotles just raised prices by 10-14%?
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas

“There simply isn’t any magic pot of money that lets employers pay higher wages just because the government says so, without making adjustments elsewhere like cutting workers’ hours, reducing their non-cash fringe benefits, and/or passing the higher wages along to consumers in the form of higher prices.”