Archived Posts November 2012 - Page 11 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have launched a new website, First American Freedom. The website aims to inform readers on issues surrounding religious liberty, current threats to religious liberty, and actions one may take to uphold this liberty.

Religious freedom is our first American freedom. It is a founding principle of our country, protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It’s a fundamental human right, rooted in the dignity of every human person—people of any faith or no faith at all. It’s not a Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue—it’s an American issue, a civil rights issue.

Religious liberty includes your freedom of belief, speech, and worship. But it also protects action—the freedom to serve the common good in accordance with your faith. It means that you and your community—not the government—define your faith. It means the freedom to help the needy in accordance with the principles of your faith. It means the freedom to participate fully and equally in public life, regardless of your faith. It means the freedom to work in business without checking your faith at the door.

In short, it means that nobody should be forced to act in a manner contrary to their own religious beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, unless it is necessary to keep public order.

The website also features media and print resources that can be shared.

Visit First American Freedom here.

Despite requests to evacuate the area targeted by Hurricane Sandy, numerous residents in the northeast refused to leave their homes. Their decisions to defy evacuation orders, said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, were “selfish” and morally unjustified. But the ethics are not so clear cut, says Acton’s Ray Northstine, in a Religion News Service report published in the Washington Post:

Moral justifications to ride out dangerous storms can vary. Some stay put to look after elderly neighbors who can’t evacuate, or to care for pets who would be unwelcome in many hotels, according to Ray Nothstine, managing editor of the Acton Institute’s Religion & Liberty magazine. He says individuals must weigh various factors, from the likelihood of requiring rescue to the value of defending personal property; they can’t just let officials decide for them.

“Anytime there’s drastic government encroachment, even in the case of mandatory evacuations, you’re going to see your level of liberty erode,” Nothstine says.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 5, 2012
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Speaking into the Silence: Conservatives and Poverty
Josh Good, Values & Capitalism

Conservatives need to do a better job applying the American Dream to all strata of society. “My party has a vision for making our communities stronger,” Ryan said, “but we don’t always do a good job of laying out that vision.”

Faith, Economics & Liberation Theology
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Liberation theology emerged as a reaction against poverty and social injustice. Though its roots are in a deep concern for the poor, liberation theology is far from biblical. As

The Kindest Cuts
Alberto Alesina, City Journal

Shrinking spending reduces deficits without harming the economy—unlike tax hikes.

Anti-Conscience Mandate Halted Against Second Family-Owned Business
Dominique Ludvigson, The Foundry

A second federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Obamacare’s conscience-crushing contraception mandate.

On the National Catholic Register, Joan Frawley Desmond has a round up on the deepening crisis in Syria. She writes that Pope Benedict XVI, on his recent visit to Lebanon, “urged rival political, ethnic and religious groups to overcome their differences and find common ground for the sake of peace.”

The Vatican soon announced that it would send a papal delegation to Syria, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, was selected to join the group that was called to express “fraternal solidarity” with the Syrian people and foster efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The escalating violence in Syria resulted in a postponement of the delegation’s departure, and the USCCB has since confirmed that Cardinal Dolan will not join the group.

Nina Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, said Pope Benedict’s visit to Lebanon was important and that his strong statements underscored the danger that the Syrian conflict posed for the stability of the region and the survival of Christian minorities.

“The Pope drew attention to the fact that Christians are in peril. The West seems paralyzed and can’t speak up for them,” said Shea. “Syria is one of the four largest Christian-minority countries in the Middle East. But, after Iraq, there are fears for the survival of another Christian minority in the region. The smaller the minority gets, the more vulnerable it gets — and the more likely it will be eradicated.”

Read Ray Nothstine’s interview with Shea, titled “A Rare and Tenuous Freedom,” in Religion & Liberty.

Over at Patheos, Joel J. Miller’s “Prayers of the persecuted church” reminds us that “the lull in aggression toward the church since the fall of communism might have dulled Western memories to the horrific slaughter and repressions of the twentieth century, but the lull seems over, and the church around the world is experiencing intense persecution.” Miller goes into some detail on the horrific martyrdom of Fr. Fadi Haddad and cites the Acton Institute interview with Metropolitan Hilarion posted here yesterday.

Also see “The plight of Syria’s Christians: ‘We left Homs because they were trying to kill us,'” a report by the Independent, a UK newspaper.

Too often, short term mission trips to the developing world trample on dignity or harm economic growth, says Ray Sawatsky. It’s time to stop confusing charity with generosity.

With summer over, another season of short term mission trips draws to a close. Churches, schools, and agencies (both for-profit and non-profit) have sent teams to work in the developing world. These mission trips (or “internships,” or “working holidays”) are major pieces in the lives of many North American believers—both spiritually and, as you’ll see below, economically. My primary intent is not primarily to defend short term mission trips as a concept; rather, I sketch a few criteria for measuring if planners, fundraisers, and, most of all, participants in these trips do their work in the proper frames of mind, for the right reasons, and while taking biblical precautions.

As steel sharpens steel, I hope some sharp warnings will prevent future well-meant short term mission trips that fail to protect dignity, that harm economic growth, or that confuse generosity with charity.

Read more . . .

Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Oct. 16 after the session of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

In an interview for Acton’s Religion & Liberty quarterly, the Russian Orthodox bishop in charge of external affairs for the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, warned that that the situation for the Christian population of Syria has deteriorated to an alarming degree. Hilarion compared the situation today, after almost two years of fighting in Syria, as analogous to Iraq, which saw a virtual depopulation of Christians following the U.S. invasion in 2003.

The Russian Orthodox Church has been among the most active witnesses against Christian persecution around the world, particularly in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. In November 2011, Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, visited Syria and Lebanon. In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Kirill said that he shared a concern with Assad about the “spread of religious radicalism that threatens the integrity of the Arab world.”

That sentiment has been expressed widely in Christian communities in Syria — some of them dating to apostolic times — as civil war has progressively taken a heavy toll. Now almost two years on, as many as 30,000 people may have perished. Despite having few illusions about the nature of Assad’s autocratic rule, many Christians feared that the Islamist groups, involved in what the West initially viewed as another “Arab Spring” uprising, would eventually turn on them. Indeed this is what has happened. Entire Christian villages have been depopulated, churches desecrated, and many brutal killings have taken place at the hands of the “Arab Spring” insurgents. Most recently, Fr. Fadi Haddad, an Orthodox priest, was found murdered with brutal marks of torture on his remains. Car bomb attacks are now being waged against Christian neighborhoods. (See these backgrounders on the Syrian crisis from the Congressional Research Service and the Council on Foreign Relations). (more…)

This morning, Autocam Corp. Chief Executive Officer John C. Kennedy joined us on AU Online to give a free presentation on ObamaCare, the HHS mandate, and the practical implications of this legislation from his perspective as a Roman Catholic businessman. His presentation was spot on and spurred some good questions from attendees. But why take my word for it?

If you didn’t attend this morning’s session, you still have the chance to enroll for free to listen to a recording of the talk. We have also posted resources such as the slides used during the session and links to articles related to the Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius lawsuit on the From a Businessman’s Perspective: ObamaCare and the HHS Mandate course page.

Also, read this MLive.com article by reporter Shandra Martinez about this morning’s presentation.

Based on Nicholas Eberstadt’s book, A Nation of Takers, this Seussian video depicts the dangerous dependency of entitlements and the importance of liberty.

(Via: Values & Capitalism)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 2, 2012
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Is Marriage the Key to Prosperity?
Ericka Andersen, The Foundry

What’s the number one antidote to child poverty in America? Marriage.

Arthur Brooks and Steve Forbes on the Morality of Free Markets
Values & Capitalism

In this video, John Stossel talks with Steve Forbes and Arthur Brooks about the moral case for free enterprise.

Faith, Work, & Vocation – As A Single Woman
Kristin Hansen, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

A 38-year old, single, Christian friend of mine recently told me that she got a promotion. The only problem, she said, is that she’d rather be a stay-at-home mom, “packing school lunches.”

Billy Graham Looks Forward to 94th Birthday
ChristianNewsWire

As evangelist Billy Graham prepares to celebrate his 94th birthday on November 7, he has been reflecting on the previous year and preparing for what God has in store for him during his 95th year on the planet.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, November 2, 2012
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Encyclopedia Entry: “Arts”
Tyler Cowen. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. 2d ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007.

General economic principles govern the arts. Most important, artists use scarce means to achieve ends—and therefore recognize trade-offs, the defining aspects of economic behavior. Also, many other economic aspects of the arts make the arts similar to the more typical goods and services that economists analyze.

(more…)