Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 4, 2015
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Prison Fellowship Praises Koch Decision to Not Ask Job Applicants About Criminal Record: Represents Gospel Message of Redemption
Ray Nothstine, Christian Post

Prison Fellowship praised the decisions by Koch Industries and other companies to no longer ask about criminal history on job applications, in an interview with The Christian Post, noting that the move is consistent with the redemptive message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Redefining Marriage Would Erode Religious Liberty and Free Speech Rights of Citizens and Churches
Carl H. Esbeck, Public Discourse

Finding a right to same-sex marriage in the Fourteenth Amendment would threaten the religious liberty of citizens and organizations who support marriage and silence or chill the speech of dissenters.

NC religious conservatives lobby for ‘religious freedom’ law
Associated Press

Religious conservatives are lobbying North Carolina lawmakers to pass legislation that supporters say protects expressions of faith but that opponents contend would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Egypt Islamists get life for Kerdasa church attack
BBC

A court in Egypt has sentenced 69 Islamists to life in prison for setting fire to a church in a town near Cairo.

An employee at Indiana-based Carson Manufacturing

An employee at Indiana-based Carson Manufacturing

There is a group of workers out there who are uniquely qualified for many jobs, intensely interested in working and being as independent as possible, often joyful in attitude and thankful for the little things many of us take for granted.

They are adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

I’m not talking about “pity” jobs here. I’m talking about people with real talents who are looking to share those talents with others in a way that is mutually beneficial. Most of us call that a “career” but for the disabled, a career can be hard to come by. Chalk it up to misunderstanding, ignorance and prejudice. However, businesses are getting on board.

More and more companies out there are realizing there’s an untapped pool of talent that makes for very good workers,” [said] Peter Bell, President and CEO of Eden Autism Services, “Employers are becoming interested in hiring these people not because it’s charity, but because it’s the right business decision.”

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has issued its 2015 annual report on religious liberty around the world. In their report, the USCIRF documents religious freedom abuses and violations in 33 countries and makes county-specific policy recommendations for U.S. policy. One country worthy of particular attentions is Afghanistan.

religiousfreedomreport2015For the past nine years USCIRF has designated Afghanistan as a country of particular concern, a country where the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are serious and are characterized by at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” standard. As the report notes,

Afghanistan’s legal system remains deeply flawed, as the constitution explicitly fails to protect the individual right to freedom of religion or belief, and it and other laws have been applied in ways that violate international human rights standards.

Notice that the country has been on the list since two years after the adoption of their new constitution—a constitution that the U.S. helped to create.

In 2004, after U.S. military and allied forces overthrew the Taliban, American diplomats helped draft a new Afghani constitution. Many people around the world were hoping the result would be similar to the constitution of Turkey—or at least be distinguishable from the constitution of Iran. Instead, what was created—with the help of the U.S. government—was an Islamic Republic, a state in which “no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam.”

While the White House issued a statement calling it an “important milestone in Afghanistan’s political development,” the USCIRF had the courage to admit what we were creating: Taliban-lite.
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pakistani kilnChristians make up a tiny minority in the nation of Pakistan, where the state religion is Islam. In many places, Pakistani Christians are persecuted and enslaved. Nowhere is this more evident in the kilns and brick-making industry.

According to Christians In Pakistan, entire families are ensnared in “debt bondage” in the kilns, with children as young as five working.

The normal routine of a ‘pathera’ or family working at a brick kiln is rolling balls of clay, placing them in moulds, or dealing with backed bricks under the harsh sun and in a environment marred with thick black smoke from the chimney. (more…)

When divorced from God’s plan,  work is merely labor, a rudderless everyday job.


 Today May 1 is Labor Day in Italy and in virtually all of Europe. Alas, it is hardly festive. There is not much to celebrate here in terms of job growth and wealth creation. Economic figures across this Old and Aging Continent are like proverbial diamonds in the rough: there is much potential for glory, but with a lot of precision cutting and polishing still to do.

Simply read the latest statistical lampoon on European GDP in The Economist on April 14 Taking Europe’s Pulse. With a walking-dead growth of 0.3% in the first quarter of 2015,  nation after European nation is stifled by union strongholds on hiring and firing practices, crony capitalist deals born in Brussels’ backrooms, governments’ insatiable appetite for taxation to prop up bankrupt social welfare programs, and many other politico-economic and cultural tentacles holding back a not so free European Union.

Here in Rome, few are celebrating in an anemic peninsula with 12.70% unemployment and virtually no growth in the last 20-plus years. Absolutely no fist pumps are raised on this day in traditionally leftist Spain (23.78 %), nor in the communist party-run Greece (25.70%), and by no means in the rebuilding nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (43.78%).

Nonetheless today, for good measure, is a public ‘holiday’, whether the economic mood is truly merry or not. At least it is a day to put workers’ worries aside. It is a day to forget about the sorry state of many economies on this extended weekend when Europeans head to the mountains, sea and its many cities of art.

Primo-maggio-di-lotta1_large

The secular ‘holiday’.

st_joseph_the_worker_2

The religious ‘holy day’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 1 is also a ‘holy day’, the Catholic Feast of St. Joseph the Worker instituted by Pius XII in 1955 in response to the May Day communist celebrations installed across Europe. Therefore, it is no small coincidence of calendar or etymology. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 1, 2015
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Electricity for Africa
Matt Ridley, Rational Optimist

There really is a trade-off: denying aid for fossil fuels hurts the poor.

If the Supreme Court Imposes Same Sex Marriage, You Could Lose Your Church
John Zmirak, The Stream

Obama’s Solicitor General admits that the feds will treat orthodox Christians like racists.

The Paradox of Dogma: How the Left Is Crippling Itself
Robert Tracinski, The Federalist

If you try to shut down public debate, is this a way of ensuring that you win—or an admission that you have already lost?

How California Cities Are Making Millions Seizing Property and Money from Law-Abiding Citizens
Melissa Quinn, The Daily Signal

In a small number of cities clustered in Los Angeles County, Calif., people are seeing their property and money seized by law enforcement through civil asset forfeiture, and it’s making police departments tens of millions of dollars.

debt-collection-final-noticeFor decades The Episcopal Church (ECUSA) has faced declining membership (in 1966, the ECUSA had 3,647,297 members; by 2013, the membership was 1,866,758, a decline of 49 percent.) But even when people are leaving the pews someone still has to pay for those pews, as well as the other overhead costs that come with running a large organization. Not surprising, the denomination has sought ways to bring in additional revenue.

Currently, the ECUSA has two primary sources of income. According to its latest audited financial statements for the calendar year 2013, it received a little over $27 million from its member dioceses, and it received half as much again, or $13.8 million, from the federal government.

As A.S. Haley notes, the money ECUSA received from the federal government was in connection with the services provided by Episcopal Migration Ministries, which assists the State Department in relocating refugees throughout the United States. That is certainly noble and necessary work, and the denomination should be commended for providing a valuable service to a vulnerable community.

But as Haley points out, the records show the ECUSA also makes a lot of money as a debt collector:

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closedSeattle has now mandated an increase in minimum wage. The economic ramifications are being felt, especially throughout the restaurant industry.

Several Seattle restaurants have done away with tipping, but are adding a mandatory service charge on a customer’s bill.

Restaurants often operate on thin margins, so higher wages quickly impact profitability. As opposed to tips, a service charge becomes part of the restaurant’s overall revenue. The restaurateurs say the service charge component will be used exclusively for employee wages, benefits and payroll expenses.

While this may solve the economic issue for some restaurants, the mandatory minimum wage increase is causing others to simply close their doors. (more…)

Toya Graham and her son

Toya Graham and her son

There was some water cooler talk here in the office the other day as the video of the Baltimore mom went viral. That’s the mother who recognized her son as one of the rioters, and slapped him about the head with some degree of ferocity, then put him in the car and took him home.

The mother has since been identified as Toya Graham, who happened upon her son, brick in hand, when she realized school had let out early due to the riots. Graham had forbidden her son the night before from going to the area where the riots were taking place, and he promised he would not. When she realized he was not at home, she went looking for him. (more…)

Human-Male-White-Newborn-Baby-CryingBirthrates across the globe are going down even as life expectancy increases. The former trend is marked particularly in developed nations.

There are lots of reasons for people to have kids or not have kids. Some of these reasons are economic. As I’ve argued previously, “One of the common concerns that drives prospective parents to put off having children is economic, specifically that they won’t have the financial resources to support a growing family. This is a worry that’s been around as long as there have been families.”

Perhaps it really is more difficult in America today to make the economic sacrifice (or perhaps better understood as investment) required for having kids.

But often these kinds of economic reasons end up being used as rationalizations. More honest, at least, is this characterization of a ‘rational’ approach to procreation:

Not having children isn’t selfish. Not having children is a perfectly rational and reasonable response given that humans are essentially parasites on the face of a perfectly lovely and well-balanced planet, ploughing through its natural resources, eradicating its endangered species, and ruining its most wonderful landscapes. This might sound misanthropic, and it is, but it is also true.

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