Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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What Opposition to Religious Freedom Really Means
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

The public debate over Indiana’s new religious freedom law is (almost) enough to drive this Baptist to drink. The conversation has been the most uninformed and ignorant I’ve seen in years.

D.C. City Council Violates Catholic Schools’ Right To Free Exercise Of Religion
Michael Root, First Things

One might think that the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital, would be particularly vigilant in defending the freedoms fundamental to American life. Unfortunately, the District’s City Council has now seen fit to intervene into the life of religious institutions and insist that such institutions handle some topics in ways amenable to the Council’s opinions.

John Wesley and Religious Liberty
Mark Tooley, First Things

Recently a letter by John Wesley revealing his views about law enforcement and religious freedom was tweeted by its owner, the Wesley Hobart Museum of the Uniting Church in Tasmania, Australia.

5 myths about free enterprise
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Free enterprise is under attack. Opponents of the free enterprise system often rely on half-truths and flat-out falsehoods to make their case for bigger government. Here is a handy fact sheet to dispel some of these harmful myths and help defend a system that promotes prosperity, innovation and happiness.

Writing for The Federalist blog last week, American Energy Alliance Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Dan Ziegler remarked:

The environment isn’t getting worse—it’s rapidly improving, even as our economy grows and our energy use increases. The EPA recently released new data on air quality showing that total emissions of the six major air pollutants have dropped by 68 percent since 1970. This is all the more impressive considering that during this same period, America’s population has grown by 54 percent, we’re using 44 percent more energy, we’re driving 168 percent more miles in our cars, and our economy has grown by 238 percent.

It goes from impressive to astounding when you consider that natural gas, coal, and oil have driven this growth. Technological innovations have made obtaining these energy sources smarter, safer, and more efficient than ever before.

In other words, we don’t have to wreck our economy to save the planet—an important realization which casts the green lobby’s preferred policies in a new light. There’s also the very real possibility that such policies would provide very little environmental benefit and even harm the environment. [Emphasis in original]

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On Friday Afternoon, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg joined host Sheila Liaugminas on Relevant Radio’s A Closer Look to discuss his recent article at the Public Discourse entitled God, Reason, and Our Civilizational Crisis. They discuss how differences between how societies view the divine will often cause tension and conflict between, and even within, cultures. The full interview is available via the audio player below.

cc-twitterThere is something about Indiana’s new religious freedom protection law that is causing otherwise reasonable people to lose their minds. As Elise Hilton pointed out earlier today, everyone from presumptive presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton) to corporate CEOS (Apple’s Tim Cook) to your ill-informed friends on social media have been claiming the law allows discrimination against homosexuals. It does not. (In most parts of the country, discrimination based on sexual orientation is legal—and always has been.)

Elise produced a helpful explainer with links to several articles that explain the reality of this legislation. But because there is so much disinformation, we need as much correction as possible. Here then are seven more articles you should read to get up to speed on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

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RFRA1Last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) signed his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Social media went a bit, well, bonkers. Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT.” The CEO of SalesForce, headquartered in Indiana, says they will pull out. Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, has called religious freedom laws “dangerous” and likens them to Jim Crow laws.

What’s all of this about?

First, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. This act re-instated what is known as the Sherbert Act, in which the Supreme Court:

…set out a three-prong test for courts to use in determining whether the government has violated an individual’s constitutionally-protected right to the free exercise of religion. (more…)

military-spendingWhen it comes to spending on national defense the political debate is often presented as a simplistic, binary contest between those who want to spend more and more (often conservatives, who want a strong military) and those who want to spend less and less (often liberals, who want to use the money for social welfare purposes). While those discussions are important, they are also incomplete. Conservatives, in particular, should be more cognizant of the way cronyism can undercut military readiness.

In an article today at The Stream, I argue that we need a broad-based agreement about the most effective ways to spend defense funds based on the true needs of the military:
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Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof

Good story in the Wall Street Journal today about rocker-activist Bob Geldof and how he’s spearheading a push by private-equity firms into Ethiopia to effect a “historic shift from aid to trade.” Investments are flowing into private sector projects such as a flower farm, a juice company, pipeline building and commodity exchanges.

A number of high-profile investors have recently shown up here. KKR & Co., the New York-based private-equity firm, last summer bought control of a rose farm, Afriflora, for about $200 million, its first investment in Africa. Blackstone Group plans to build a $1.35 billion pipeline to bring gasoline to the capital, Addis Ababa. Hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones is backing a $2 billion geothermal power project.

The investors are following in the footsteps of Irish punk rock singer turned activist Bob Geldof, whose Live Aid concerts 30 years ago this summer raised about $145 million for the victims of a devastating Ethiopian famine. Mr. Geldof now chairs 8 Miles LLP, a London-based private-equity firm that invests in Ethiopia. 8 Miles raised a $200 million fund in 2012; Mr. Geldof put in a few hundred thousand dollars. “They don’t have to die in vast numbers before we pay attention,” Mr. Geldof said in an interview. “The potential rewards in Africa are far greater than anywhere else.”

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, March 30, 2015
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State Lotteries and the Government’s Betrayal of the Poor
Ray Nothshine , Alabama Policy Institute

In the American tradition, the government is supposed to promote the common good and protect the rights of all citizens, especially the vulnerable. The success of lotteries, of course, depends upon the participation of the poor and vulnerable.

Norman Borlaug. He saved a billion lives
Don Surber

After graduation, he worked for DuPont developing crops instead of military service in World War II. His life’s work had begun. He was 30 years old. He would receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for saving a billion lives.

Justice Reform: Georgia’s Bipartisan Cinderella Story
Rachel Lu, The Federalist

Fiscally sound policies can be compassionate and humane. Just look at Georgia, where prison populations are down after initial justice reform.

When Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur’an
David Forte , Library of Law and Liberty

In this work with the eye-startling title, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, Spellberg investigates all manner of references among the founding generation to Islam.

Abdel-Latif Derian

Abdel-Latif Derian

Joe Carter put up a very good clarifying post on Wednesday about Western politicians and religious leaders envisioning a moderate Islam that might follow the template of the Protestant Reformation. In “Let’s Stop Asking Islam to Be Christian,” Carter wrote that what Western elites really want is for Muslims “to be like liberal mainline Christianity: all the trappings of the faith without all that pesky doctrine that might stir up trouble.”

Indeed, Christians and Muslims hold radically different notions about the “true faith” and the nature of God. This would have been unquestionably obvious to St. John of Damascus (676-749) who authored the Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith and served as a high counselor to Muslim rulers.

Now some of the same Christian communities that date to the era of the Damascene church father — or earlier — have been wiped out or targeted for extinction by Islamic terrorists. Read “Syrian Christian refugees feel fortunate to have fled Islamic State,” an L.A. Times report on the “several thousand Assyrian Christians who fled in late February as the militants advanced into dozens of largely Christian villages along the Khabur River in eastern Syria.” (more…)

bureaucracySmall-government conservatives often share a regrettable trait with their big-government liberal opponents: they frame the issue almost exclusively in terms of the size and scope of the federal government.

Although conservatives sometimes expand their view and include state governments, the focus tends to miss the local governments, city and county municipalities, that can have a considerable impact on an individual’s life. But in Texas they’re beginning to take notice—and are doing something about it:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has been vocal about his opposition to what he characterizes as an overabundance of regulations implemented at the local level in his state.

During remarks at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 13th annual Policy Orientation in January, Abbott said that “the truth is, Texas is being California-ized with bag bans, fracking bans, tree-cutting bans…We are forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that are eroding the Texas Model.”

And as James Quintero, the director of the Center for Local Governance at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Signal, “big government at the local level is still big government.”

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