Archived Posts October 2012 - Page 9 of 16 | Acton PowerBlog

This morning at Ethika Politika, I argue that “acting primarily for the sake of national interest in international affairs runs contrary to a nation’s highest ideals.” In particular, I draw on the thought of Vladimir Solovyov, who argued that, morally speaking, national interest alone cannot be the supreme standard of international action since the highest aspirations of each nation (e.g. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”) are claimed to be universal goods. I would here like to explore his critique with reference to the subject of international trade. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech
Jonathan Turley, Washington Post

Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views.

Muslims protest ‘age of mockery’ as thousands descend on Google HQ
Jennifer O’Mahony, The Telegraph

Thousands of Muslims have pledged a series of protests against Google HQ for a “hateful and offensive” anti-Islam video, saying they now live in an “age of mockery”.

Plaintiffs Against the HHS Mandate Reach More Than 100 Strong
Sarah Torre, The Foundry

The number of plaintiffs that have joined legal challenges to Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate reached over 100 this week.

America’s Endangered Religious Liberty
Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism

Same-sex marriage and the Health and Human Services contraceptive/abortifacient mandate are emerging as the greatest threats to domestic religious liberty, according to panelists at a half-day conference on legal protection for liberty of conscience, held by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 15, 2012

What is Catholic Church’s teaching on the size of government? And what is the principle of subsidiarity? Our friends at have put together a brief video to help answer these questions.

Laurel Broten, the Education Minister of Ontario, stated on Oct. 10 that the “province’s publicly funded Catholic schools may not teach students that abortion is wrong because such teaching amounts to ‘misogyny,’ which is prohibited in schools under a controversial anti-bullying law.” Ontario enacted Bill 13 in June and it casts a wide net against bullying in schools. It is under this law that Broten has declared that Catholic schools may not teach that abortion is wrong.

Broten noted,

Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students. That includes LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer] students. … Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.

Broten is equating the Catholic Church’s pro-life stance with the hatred of women, and deems the Church’s teaching now illegal, disallowing freedom of conscience, clearly putting the state in a position of telling a church what it can and cannot teach.

Fr. Tim Boyle, a Catholic priest from Mattawa, Ontario, says this,

Minister Broten ignores … the fact that her decision also violates section 93 the Canadian Constitutional Act which enshrines the rights of Catholics in Ontario to a school system in which they can teach their children in a Catholic environment without government interference. While it may be debatable whether or not Bill 13 in its entirety might be constitutional, a matter soon to be taken up by the courts, it’s clear that prohibiting Catholic schools from teaching that abortion is wrong is a clear violation of this legal guarantee of the separation of Church and State.

Of course, one of the issues here is that Catholic schools in Canada do receive public monies. Recently, Catholic Charities of Tulsa, Okla., chose to stop all government funds, relying instead on private donations.

“What Catholic Charities of Tulsa is doing is showing the way forward for Catholics and other Christians who want to be faithful to the ancient Church’s age-old moral teachings, and who want to assist those in need without compromising the truth of the Gospel,” wrote Dr. Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty…

Fr. Robert Sirico, the president of Acton, agrees. “I think we need to separate the giving from the mechanism of the state,” he said. “There’s the threat that he who drinks the king’s wine sings the king’s song.”

It remains to be seen if the Catholics of Ontario will be satisfied with the king’s song and dance.

“Scandinavian economies are some of the most market-oriented on the planet” says economist Scott Sumner, who adds “Denmark is the most market-oriented country on earth.”

This peculiar claim is even more curious considering that it is based on the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom. On the Heritage Index, which ranks countries based on ten components of economic freedom, the United States comes in at #10, lumped in with the “mostly free” countries. All of the Scandinavian countries are lower on the list: Denmark (#11), the Netherlands (#15), Finland (#17), Sweden (#21), Iceland (#27), and Norway (#40).

Each of these countries are considered “less free” on Heritage’s Index than such nations as the U.S., Canada, and Chile, mostly because they have high levels of wealth redistribution. But Sumners thinks that the “size of government and degree of market freedom” are “two completely separate issues.”

The inimitable Bryan Caplan explains why Sumners is wrong and why size of government and economic freedom are inextricably connected:

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 15, 2012

The Christian Exodus From Egypt
Samuel Tadros, Wall Street Journal

For Copts, a persecuting dictator was preferable to the Islamist mob.

Sell All That You Have
R.C. Sproul, Jr. Ligonier Ministries

Jesus told the rich young fool that he must sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and follow him. Is this true for all who would follow Jesus?

The Entrepreneurial Vocation
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Everything we do in Christ contributes to the Kingdom he is building, and will bring in full when he returns. That refers to the work of mothers and fathers, the missionaries and pastors, the construction workers and janitors, even the investment bankers and entrepreneurs. Each vocation is seen as equally important and honorable in the eyes of God.

California’s Crony Capitalism Problem
Steven Greenhut, Reason

Gov. Jerry Brown and the redevelopment scam.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 12, 2012

The Obama Administration’s requirement for many religious institutions to provide contraception may be a relatively new policy. But as Notre Dame political scientist Patrick Deneen explains, the “origin of the mandate lies in an impulse that can be dated back to the beginnings of the modern era and the rise of the state.”

At a recent conference in which I participated at the Georgetown Law Center, a number of speakers and participants described the HHS mandate as the necessary requirement that will liberate women from the “coercion” of the Church that seeks to restrict their access to free contraception—including abortifacients—and sterilization. The expansion of state power is justified for its liberative effects, freeing women from the oppression of an antiquated institution (its irrelevance was reinforced by frequent citation of the questionable statistic that 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives).

Note the conceit: Employees at Catholic (or other similarly informed religious institutions) are “coerced” by not having free contraceptives provided as part of their health plans. The state, through the threat of punitive fines (estimated by President John Garvey of the Catholic University of America to be $62 million per year should CUA refuse to comply), acts as the liberator of these oppressed people. This narrative seems plausible to many, because we have been deeply shaped and trained to associate the word “liberty” with the freedom of individuals “to pursue their own ends”—requiring, among other things, the liberation of recreational sex from any consequences—and not the rights, privileges, immunities and liberties of groups, societies, associations, even a corpus mysticum like the Church. In such a view we find Leviathan run rampant . . . .

Read more . . .