WheatonCollege_Vertical_2c_logoOver the past couple of years the Obama administration has made it clear that when religious freedom conflicts with their political agenda, religious believers are the ones that will have to set aside their conscientious objections. And to be honest, I suspected that would be what happened more often than not.

Sure, you’d have some brave holdouts, like the owners of Hobby Lobby and the dedicated nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor. But for the most part, I expected Christian organizations would find a way to defend a “principled compromise.” For instance, I assumed Christian colleges would be the first to cave on issues like the contraceptive-abortifacient mandate. After all, what are they going to do, stop providing health insurance for their students?

Well, yes, they will. At least that’s what Wheaton College has done:
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 A member of a Christian militia unit tries to persuade Kamala Karim Shaya, one of the last residents of Telskuf, to move to a secured home near their barracks. Credit Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times

A member of a Christian militia unit tries to persuade Kamala Karim Shaya, one of the last residents of Telskuf, to move to a secured home near their barracks. Credit Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times

With persecution of Christians there at an all time high, many have chosen to leave the Middle East. Christianity Today, reporting on the latest Pew Research report, says the number of Christians in the Middle East has dropped from 14 percent of the population to just 4 percent. That translates to less than half a million people in the Middle East who identify as Christians.

The problem turned from bad to worse with the rise of the Islamic State as it intensified the Muslim persecution of Christians and other minorities as part of its campaign of terror in the region, the report said.

Now, “Christianity is under an existential threat,” said Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat in the US House of Representatives and an advocate of Eastern Christians.

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Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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How C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien responded to ‘environmental holocaust’
Joseph Loconte, CNN

In his controversial encyclical on climate change, Pope Francis delivered a scathing critique of environmental degradation and called for “an ecological conversion” among fellow Christians. A century earlier, however, another environmental debate prompted its own version of soul-searching among the faithful.

Climate encyclical is religious, not political, document
John Malrett, Des Moines Register

Referring to the encyclical on climate change, Leonard Pitts (“Pope Should Stick To Religion?” July 22) focuses on what he calls Pope Francis’ “bare-knuckles critique of the excesses of capitalism,” ignoring the excesses of politics, ecology, science, technology and relativism which the pope also addresses. It should be obvious to Pitts when Pope Francis writes, “On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views,” this is not a political document requiring specific solutions to specific problems.

Climate Change And The Impact Of Laudato Si
ValueWalk

Last week, the Vatican held a meeting of the mayors of some of the world’s largest cities to discuss climate change. This meeting was part of Pope Francis’s efforts to add to the discussion of climate change, which was the subject of a recent encyclical, Laudato Si. In this report, we will begin with our position on climate change, discuss the encyclical and try to measure its potential impact on the direction of climate change policy. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

Interfaith leaders support papal encyclical on environment
Oliver Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal

Catholics, Protestants and Muslims joined Tuesday in support of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and signed a letter calling on New Mexico civic leaders to address climate change, environmental degradation and poverty. The letter – signed by 92 clergy and lay members – calls for New Mexicans to support a scathing communique from Pope Francis in June, in which he warned that the planet is “beginning to look like an immense pile of filth,” and drew a connection between climate, pollution and poverty.

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failureIn 2002, fewer than one in four Americans were dissatisfied with the nation’s system of government and how well it works. Since then that level of discontent has been steadily increasing. Last year the number who said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied reached 65 percent.

The primary reason for our disgruntlement is the government’s record of failure. As Peter Schuck explained in his recent book Why Government Fails So Often, ‘government failure’ is neither a political creed nor a reactionary slogan—it’s an empirical fact.

In a recent analysis paper, Chris Edwards lists five reasons why failure of the federal government is endemic:
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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The Happy Meal Fallacy
Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

If firms are required to provide benefits to contractors they will lower the contractor wage. But how do we know the extra benefits aren’t worth the reduction in wages?

Africa, Capitalism, and the “Elimination of Poverty”: Leon Louw on Africa’s Incredible Growth
Zach Weissmueller, Reason.com

“Thank goodness people are ‘exploiting’ Africa by buying things from it, by investing in it, by employing people in it,” says Leon Louw, author, policy analyst, and executive director the South Africa-based think tank The Free Market Foundation. “The worst thing that would happen is if people decide to stop exploiting Africa.”

Neither Falwell nor Benedict, But a New Creation
Greg Forster, Patheos

This is yet another article claiming that we stand at a unique crossroads, and now face choices unlike those in the recent past. Here are my six predictions for evangelicalism in America in the next five years.

​Why Is Religious Freedom At Risk?
Ryan T. Anderson, First Things

Three historical developments explain our current predicament: a change in the scope of our government, a change in our sexual values, and a change in our political leaders’ vision of religious liberty. An adequate response will need to address each of these changes.

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben

The minute it was announced – months in advance of its official release –Laudato Si was instantly “highly anticipated” by nearly every opinion and news source. Finally a Christian document the masses could support because … why, exactly? Oh, yeah, global warming and a call for global government control of energy and, therefore, the world’s economies.

So, it comes as no surprise climate-change activist would weigh-in on Laudato Si, a document released in mid-June and one he identifies, naturally, as “eagerly awaited.” In his New York Review of Books essay (behind a pay wall) on the encyclical, McKibben comes up short on theology and economics but long on repeating dire predictions our planet will succumb to any number of catastrophes wrought by human activity.

The Pope is a rock star, in today’s parlance, and McKibben shouts from the mosh pit in breathless fanboy hyperbole:

The pope’s contribution to the climate debate builds on the words of his predecessors—in the first few pages he quotes from John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI—but clearly for those prelates ecological questions were secondary. (more…)

look-hereOn an average day, a person is subjected to more than 5,000 advertisements and exposures to brands. Out of that number about 362 are “ads only.” That means that during your waking hours you are exposed to an average of 23 ads per hour, or about one advertisement every two and a half minutes.

A lot of people along the advertising chain—from creation to display of ads—are getting paid. If everyone else is getting paid to distribute the ads, why shouldn’t you get paid to see them? After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, time is money. Isn’t your time and attention worthy of compensation?

Philosopher Thomas Wells thinks so. He makes an intriguing market-based argument that we need an effective property-rights regime that gives individuals the right to control where we direct our attention. “Advertisers should pay us,” says Wells, “not third parties.”

“Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery,” adds Wells. “Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted.”
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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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‘I only saw it for three minutes': Ron Boswell criticises the Pope’s statement on climate change without even reading it and then misjudges population of India by 950 million
Lucy Mae Beers, Daily Mail Australia

Former National Party Senator Ron Boswell was greeted with laughter after making controversial and ill-informed statements about climate change and renewable energy.Appearing on the ABC’s program Q&A on Monday night in Brisbane, Mr Boswell had a particular issue with Pope Francis’ encyclical on environmental degradation and climate change – even though he had not read it. The discussion then moved to how environmental changes would help the likes of India.

EPA Chief: Climate Change Is Fact Because Bad Weather Leads the News
Nick Ballasy, PJ Media

“He can reach to communities that we can’t. I think it’s very difficult to say the pope is saying it for political reasons. He’s, I think, able to make the case that this is really a factual occurrence that humans are impacting the climate, that’s it’s really important, that it’s most important for the poor, the low-income minority communities that can’t get out of the way of the climate impacts,” McCarthy said.

The Francis Factor: How Will The Pope Influence The 2016 Election
John Gehring, Talking Points Memo

When Pope Francis visits the United States in two months and becomes the first pontiff to address Congress, his speech will be a seminal moment in American history. A pope who pumps fresh energy into the world’s most influential religious institution and humanizes the papacy will likely find his toughest audience in this country. Several polls released last week show both the challenges and opportunities that await a pope who denounces an “economy of exclusion” and in bracing language prods political leaders to wake up to the reality of climate change.

Francis ‘climate and capitalism’ views may be pruning his US popularity
Peter Kenny, Ecumenical News

Pope Francis’ favorability rating among the general public in the United States has returned to where it was when he was elected to the papacy and some believe his strong comments and capitalism and climate may be fueling that change.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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Rebuilding a Detroit neighborhood, with faith and vines
Ingrid Jacques, The Detroit News

This priest is on a mission to beautify the neighborhood that surrounds his church on Detroit’s east side, where he has worked for 20 years.

Liberals abandon religious liberty
Ramesh Ponnuru, AEI Ideas

The American tradition of religious freedom has long included exemptions from laws that impose a burden on the exercise of faith. The Volstead Act implementing Prohibition, for example, made an exception for the sacramental use of alcohol. In recent years, though, liberals have started to turn away from that tradition — and come up with ever more inventive ways to justify doing so.

NC Supreme Court upholds school voucher program
Anne Blythe and T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer

The N.C. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that North Carolina can use public tax dollars to help children attend private and religious schools. The 4-3 decision reverses a ruling last summer by Judge Robert Hobgood in N.C. Superior Court.

How Christianity Redeems Consumer Entitlement
Daniel Davis, Values & Capitalism

Does capitalism encourage this mentality of consumer entitlement, and thereby discourage human virtue? And is capitalism fundamentally dependent upon this consumer-entitlement mentality?

tip 2015Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State has released a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This report examines trafficking country-by-country, ranks each country and gives suggestions to each country’s government to improve the fight against modern slavery.

The 2015 report begins with, among others items, a list of all situations that are now considered forms of human trafficking.

  • Sex trafficking
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Forced labor
  • Bonded labor or debt bondage
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced child labor
  • Unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers

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