Category: PowerLinks

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, June 2, 2014

Atheists lose latest legal fight over ‘In God We Trust’
Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service

Atheists lost their case against the “In God We Trust” motto on the nation’s currency Wednesday (May 28). It’s a battle they have lost several times before, as court after court has affirmed that printing and engraving the country’s motto on its money does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good
Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post

An all-charter district signals the dismantling of the central school bureaucracy and a shift of power to dozens of independent school operators, who will assume all the corresponding functions: the authority to hire and fire teachers and administrators, maintain buildings, run buses and provide services to special-needs students.

Only 1 in 10 workers had to be licensed in 1970. Today it’s closer to 1 in 3
Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox

Be honest: the last time you got your nails done or toilet repaired, did you ask your manicurist or plumber what kind of license they had?

Church-State Clash in China Coalesces Around a Toppled Spire
Ian Johnson, New York Times

“People are stunned,” said one member of the congregation, who asked that she be identified only by her English name, Mabel, out of fear of government reprisals. “They have completely lost faith in the local religious authorities.”

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, May 30, 2014

The Supreme Court on Prayer
Gerard V. Bradley, Public Discourse

Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Greece v. Galloway is the Court’s best piece of Establishment Clause work in decades—and a happy omen for religious liberty in our country.

Crony Capitalism and the Tyranny of Small Decisions
Andrew Quinn, The Federalist

The word “cronyism” is everywhere you turn. Conservatives are rallying around the argument that government power and corporate power are not enemies, but allies.

Are Millennials Really Leaving the Church? Yes — but Mostly White Millennials
Bob Smietana, OnFaith

All the hand-wringing stories about young adults leaving religion overlooks the vibrancy and growth of multiethnic churches.

Christianity will rise as sceptics die out, geneticist claims
Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph

Growth of Christianity in Africa coupled with population decline in Europe will trigger new resurgence of the religion, UCL academic claims.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, May 29, 2014

Europe’s Lurch Right Is Bad for the Jews … and the United States
Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

The huge gains made by far-right nationalist parties in the European Union elections last week have a lot of people on the continent and elsewhere scared.

Unlikely Allies Uniting to Fight School Changes
Motoko Rich, New York Times

With tensions running high over issues surrounding academic benchmarks, standardized testing and performance evaluations for educators, unlikely coalitions of teachers, lawmakers and parents from the left and right are increasingly banding together to push back against what they see as onerous changes in education policy. Some have Tea Party Republicans and teachers unions on the same side.

Our Moral Obligation to Vote
Bishop James D. Conley, STL, Crisis Magazine

From the very beginning, Catholics have played a vital role in the success of the American experiment. And our involvement in public and political life is still essential to the well-being of our nation.

Why is Distributism So Intolerable?
Gregory Pine, First Things

Arguments for Distributism have become predictable. Most include an historical homage to long established tradition: Look for mention of guilds, agrarian reform, and Aristotle’s theory of the polis. Catholic authors typically proceed to locate their claims in the magisterial teaching of modern Catholic Social Teaching.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Netanyahu/Pope Francis Spat Over Jesus That Wasn’t
Yair Rosenberg, Tablet

Yesterday, the press reported a sparring match between Pope Francis and Benjamin Netanyahu that never really transpired. To judge by media reports, the Israeli Prime Minister had a testy exchange with the Supreme Pontiff over whether or not Jesus spoke Hebrew.

Seven Reasons Why Religious Freedom is Good for Business
Brian Grim, Canon & Culture

Given that religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes, advances in religious freedom are in the self-interest of businesses, governments and societies.

The Real John Locke — And Why He Matters
Donald Devine, The Federalist

Four decades ago, I argued that one could not understand Locke unless he viewed him as a Christian even in the face of most existing scholarship.

The Tricky Politics of Fighting Crony Capitalism
Jonathan Coppage, The American Conservative

So what is crony capitalism, politically speaking? Is it a welcome restorative for a party pegged as being in the pockets of big business? Or a worthy policy initiative albeit with little public resonance?

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mere Consent and the Abolition of Human Dignity
Francis J. Beckwith, The Catholic Thing

[M]any today are suggesting that when it comes to some of the great moral questions of our time, individual autonomy (or “consent”) is the only principle we need in order to secure all the goods for which more ancient understandings, such as human dignity, have been employed.

Poor Too Often Led The Wrong Way To Escape Poverty
Thomas Sowell, Investor’s Business Daily

Where there is no father in the home, as too often is the case, adolescent boys may choose as models irresponsible people in the world of entertainment or even in the world of crime.

Pope, in Mideast, Stresses Urgency of Solving Crises
Jodi Rudoren, New York Times

Pope Francis called “urgently” on Saturday for a “peaceful solution” to the Syrian crisis and a “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he started a three-day sojourn through the Holy Land at a time of regional turmoil and tension.

Annual Defense Authorization Bill Passes the House with Religious Liberty Provision
Leanna Baumer, FRC Blog

Despite two years of Congressional efforts to affirm a service member’s freedom to practice and express their faith in the military, confusion over the scope of that freedom persists, particularly in the Air Force. Noting that confusion’s detrimental effect on troop morale, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) introduced an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act which calls upon the Department of Defense and the Air Force to issue clearer regulations regarding religious expression.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, May 23, 2014

The hardest place on earth to be a Christian
Jesse Johnson, The Cripplegate

While there are many terrible places on earth to be a Christian (Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Bhutan, etc.), Pakistan is arguably the worst. Other nations persecute believers, but in Pakistan the entire country has spent generations forming a world view that values the torturing of those that claim the name of Christ.

Good News for Churches Worried About Losing Their Pastor’s Best Benefit to Atheist Lawsuits
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today

What a Kentucky court ruling implies for a high-profile Wisconsin challenge to the clergy housing allowance.

Evangelicals, Catholics, and Togetherness
Dale M. Coulter, First Things

I am particularly concerned about the attempt to wed so closely this debate over the nature of the church with religious and political communion. For Catholics and Evangelicals experience a real, albeit imperfect, communion that supplies the theological ground of a shared religious and political communion.

PovertyCure: From Aid to Enterprise
Michael Matheson Miller, Library of Law and Liberty

Can the current model of humanitarian aid generated by networks of large philanthropic foundations, NGOs, and Western governments actually alleviate the poverty of the world’s Bottom Billion, to quote the title of Paul Collier’s book?

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mixing Religion and Economic Disciplines
Cecil Bohanon, Indiana Policy Review

So what role does religion have in a state-run university? What can or should a course outside a religious studies class say about religion? There are two extremes that I think are misguided.

Why Academic Freedom Matters (Now More Than Ever)
Robert George, Intercollegiate Review

From Rutgers to Stanford, opponents of academic freedom are growing bolder by the day. Yet important questions remain unanswered: what is the meaning of academic freedom? Why it is important? How it is achieved?

Work is Good
Owen Strachan, Kern Pastors Network

My life changed in 2005. Why? Was it a major epiphany? Did someone give me a massive sum of money? Did I go on an overseas trip? No, it was a then-unknown show called The Office, and its razor-sharp, low-key-but-hilarious writing.

Look Who’s Defending Washington Cronyism
Genevieve Wood, The Foundry

Supporters of one of Washington’s prime examples of cronyism, the Export-Import Bank, are rolling out the dollars and surveys to make the case that the bank is the “good kind” of corporate welfare (Is there such a thing?). But the sugar-coated rhetoric and selective numbers don’t make a convincing case.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, May 21, 2014

House Passes Bills Aimed at Stemming Human Trafficking
Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

The House on Tuesday passed a package of bills aimed at stemming human trafficking, an issue that has slowly begun to gain national attention.

After 11 years, states are finally committing to fight prison rape
Dara Lind, Vox

Back in 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act — a bill to address a problem that, at the time, was little understood. But after that… nothing much seemed to happen for a while.

Life on the Academic Animal Farm
Robert Oscar Lopez, Public Discourse

Dehumanizing others through censorship does not befit the academy, but the pigpen.

Americans lie about how much they go to church, even if they don’t belong to one
Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

Less than one-third of phone respondents (30 percent) admitted to attending religious services seldom or never. But online, freed from the normative pressures of interacting with another human being, 43 percent of respondents said they seldom or never went to church. Similarly, online respondents were less likely to say they went to church weekly or occasionally than were phone respondents.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Russian Orthodox Church the absent player at Pope-Patriarch Jerusalem summit
Tom Heneghan, Reuters

When Pope Francis meets the spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians next week, the speeches and symbolism will focus on how these ancient western and eastern wings of Christianity want to come closer together.

Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Death After Marrying Christian
Barbara Tasch, Time

A pregnant 27-year-old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by hanging Thursday for apostasy after marrying a Christian man and refusing to convert to Islam. Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag also faces charges of adultery.

To Lift Up the Poor, Must We Soak the Rich?
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Before we talk about significantly expanding our investments in education, elementary and collegiate, how confident should we feel that our existing “investment” in the “future productivity” of the poorest Americans is reaping value-for-the-dollar rewards?

How Much Do Economists Care About Government Failure? Not Much
James M. Roberts, The Foundry

Taylor reports on a recent analysis of 23 leading basic economics textbooks by public-choice economists Jim Gwartney and Rosemarie Fike that “reveals huge differences in the coverage of government failure versus market failure.”

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, May 19, 2014

The 8 worst places in the world to be religious
Daniel Burke, CNN

Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are “authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion.”

Swiss Voters Defeat $24.65 Minimum Wage by a Wide Margin
Melissa Eddy, New York Times

The proposed rate — considerably higher than elsewhere in Europe and more than double the $10.10 President Obama has sought in the United States — found little support in a national referendum, with 76.3 percent opposed, according to initial results released by the government.

What Does Religion Look Like in Prison?
Casey N. Cep, Pacific Standard

Ex-Catholics, atheists, Cherokees, Lakotas, Lutherans, and Wiccans all make an appearance in Joshua Dubler’s Down in the Chapel.

Please, Leave the Hagia Sophia Alone
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Turkey’s Islamist government threatens to destroy Hagia Sophia’s crucial “neutral” status. ANSAmed reports that the government plans to turn the former basilica into a mosque in the afternoon and evening, while allowing it to remain a museum during morning hours.