Have you been inspired and influenced by the Acton Institute’s film series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles? What have you learned? How has it changed your perspective on work, culture, and whole-life discipleship?

As Evan Koons explains, we’re interested in hearing your stories:

Your story may get used in a blog post or a video, and if it does, you may even get some free stuff! (more…)

rice paddyThe Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations and the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family are currently meeting in Rome to discuss the role of women and global sustainable development. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, told Vatican News that he considered 2015 to be a crucial year for this issue. With the U.N. Millenium Development goals expiring this year, and new Sustainable Development goals to be set for September, Turkson believes now is the time to discuss – in the context of faith – the role of women in these goals.

Conference organizer Flaminia Giovanelli, Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, says women have much to contribute to the achievement of every goal on the list. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 22, 2015
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memorial-dayOn Monday, Americans will observe Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Here are five facts you should know about this day of remembrance:

1. Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military both in wartime or peacetime.

2. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. Three years after the Civil War, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30 since it was believed flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 22, 2015
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Can We Have Religious Liberty In Modern America?
Luma Simms, The Federalist

Our liberty is a natural right protected via constant tension between all of our branches of government, representing the tensions between all of us as a people. It is through this tension that we ought to end up with equal and just laws that are good for society as a whole.

‘Sin taxes’ yield more than double business taxes in Mich.
Chad Livengood, The Detroit News

Smokers and drinkers paid more taxes last year than Michigan companies paid in net business income taxes — a new development that’s likely to inflame a raging legislative debate about the fairness of the state’s tax code.

Teenage Wageland
Jared Meyer, City Journal

Los Angeles cuts off a rung of its economic ladder.

Trade legislation overcomes Senate filibuster
Timothy B. Lee, Vox

On Thursday the Senate cleared a key procedural hurdle to passing Trade Promotion Authority, which would guarantee President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership an up-or-down vote in Congress.

The federal government spent more than $100 billion providing food assistance to Americans last year, according to recent testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Eighteen federal programs provided food to 46 million people—approximately 1 out of every 7 Americans. Here are the programs and the dollar amount spent:

gao-foodprograms The GAO found significant overlap between these programs which “can create unnecessary work and waste administrative resources, resulting in inefficiency.” The GAO identified several food assistance programs that provide the same or comparable benefits to the same or similar population groups—and yet each program is managed separately:
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Detail from Pamela Alderman’s “The Scarlet Cord”

Those of you who are regular readers here at the Acton PowerBlog are very familiar with Elise Graveline Hilton’s extensive research and work on the subject of human trafficking, both here on the blog and also through her recently published monograph, A Vulnerable World. (For those of you who don’t have a copy, you can pick up a paperback version at the Acton Bookshop; a Kindle version is available as well.) As Elise was doing the hard work of writing her book, Pamela Alderman was exploring the world of human trafficking through her artistic talents, producing an installation called “The Scarlet Cord.” Her powerful work was created for ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went on to be displayed at the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. It is currently on display at the Acton Institute’s Prince-Broekhuizen Gallery.

In conjuction with Acton’s exhibition of “The Scarlet Cord,” we hosted an evening event featuring talks from both Hilton and Alderman. If you weren’t able to join us for the event, we encourage you to take the time to watch the video of the event, and to share it with your family and friends. Learn to look for the telltale signs of trafficking in your day to day life, and join the effort to stamp out this inhuman practice.

wolf-in-sheepOver at GreenBiz last week, reporter Keith Larson profiled Andrew Behar, chief executive officer of shareholder activist group As You Sow. In the article, Behar attempts to rebrand AYS activities as “advocacy investment.”

 For some capital market watchers, the term “activist investor” may bring to mind corporate raiders such as Carl Icahn or Bill Ackman.

That’s why Andrew Behar, CEO of the nonprofit As You Sow, prefers to call social and environmental activist investors something a little more aspirational: “advocacy investors.”

In the absence of large-scale government regulation to force the issue of sustainability with corporate executives, some investors have taken it upon themselves to try to force companies to change. One way these shareholders are advocating change is through filing shareholder proposals or resolutions.

Sure, whatever. To-may-to, to-mah-to and all that. So, it seems, these activists…errrr…advocacy investors at As You Sow are working in cahoots with yet another group of advocacy investors, Arjuna Capital. Puffing its activities as “Enlightened Engagement in the Capital Markets,” Arjuna celebrates its partnership with AYS that introduced resolutions that would force Chevron Corp. and ExxonMobil Corporation to return capital to shareholders rather than invest it in fossil fuels, which, you know, is kind of both companies’ core business. (more…)

Constitutional InterpretationA few days ago I mentioned Michael Stokes Paulsen’s crash course on how to interpret the Constitution. Paulsen outlined five techniques of constitutional interpretation that courts and commentators employ: (1) arguments from the straightforward, natural, original linguistic meaning of the text; (2) arguments from the structure, logic, and relationships created by the document as a whole; (3) arguments from history, original intention, or purposes behind an enacted text; (4) arguments from precedent; and (5) arguments from policy.

Today, Paulsen has another article that addresses whose job it is to interpret “Constitutional law.” As he says, the role is not the exclusive domain of the courts, or even of government officials. Faithful interpretation is the duty and responsibility of faithful citizens.
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locust effectRule of law is not something we hear much about, nor do we really want to. It’s kind of … dull. Tedious. Yawn-inducing.

Unless, of course, you live somewhere where there is no rule of law.

Every year, 5 million people are chased from their homes. Some lose their homes due to violence; others lose their homes simply because they cannot prove they own it. Someone bigger, stronger, more powerful, more wealthy comes in and takes it. And the victims have no redress. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 21, 2015
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3 Things ‘The Profit’ Teaches Us About The Beauty Of Business
Joseph Sunde, The Federalist

Business is not just about money. It’s about people, incentives, and ethics, as CNBC’s ‘The Profit’ portrays.

Do religious leaders really focus on homosexuality and abortion more than poverty? Not exactly
Scott Clement, Washington Post

A breakdown of the data by religious groups shows that poverty dominates discussion even at churches with strong stances on abortion and homosexuality.

The Ann Coulter Critique of American Christianity
Ross Douthat, New York Times

[H]ere I think you can take the personal venom out of Coulter’s argument, reframe it as a call to action, and find a possibly-important point: Namely, that the extraordinary overseas work done by Christian (and especially evangelical, it must be said) missionaries, and the extraordinary fundraising done on their behalf at home, might be a model for a renewal of domestic mission work as well.

Newly Passed Human Trafficking Bill Only a Start to What US Must Do to Combat Trafficking
Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. If signed by the president, the bill would create a domestic fund for victims of child sex trafficking from fines levied against traffickers. Fines collected from traffickers will bolster local law enforcement training and capabilities, among other capacity building measures.