Posts tagged with: religious freedom

6cdb603ec737f3efb860aedefd6e4b88In the newly translated Pro Rege: Living Under Christ the King, Volume 1, Abraham Kuyper reminds us that Christ is not only prophet and priest, but also king, challenging us to reflect on what it means to live under that kingship in a fallen world.

Written with the aim of “removing the separation between our life inside the church and our life outside the church,” Kuyper reminds us that “Christ’s being Savior does not exclude his being Lord,” and that this reality transforms our responses in every corner of cultural engagement, both inside the church walls in across business, educations, the arts, and so on.

Kuyper was writing to the church in the Netherlands over 100 years ago, but over at Gentle Reformation, Barry York helpfully connects the dots to the American context, particularly as it relates to the current debates over religious liberty and our lopsided emphasis on worship within the church.

“You can sing whatever you want in church, but you can’t come out of church and act on those beliefs—at least not with any special protection from the law,” York writes, pointing to a recent doctrine from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “That legal viewpoint—already put into action in recent court and regulatory rulings—threatens public funding and tax breaks that now support Christian colleges, K-12 schools, poverty-fighting organizations and other charities.” (more…)

cover_oneFrom today until Sunday (July 14 – 17), the Acton Institute’s book One and Indivisible: The Relationship between Religious and Economic Freedom will be available to download for free. The book is a collection of essays, which is, according to editor Kevin Schmiesing, organized around the central theme: “What is the relationship between economic freedom and religious freedom?” As Schmiesing writes:

In light of the urgent need both to understand the relationship between religious and economic liberty and to bolster it, it is imperative that the essays here both explore the theoretical basis of the relationship and offer practical guidance for how to nurture it. They must show us how to engage in the building of societies that are at once hospitable to the worship of God and also conducive to the material abundance that permits human flourishing in all its dimensions. They do not disappoint on this score.

In the twenty-first century, increasing persecution of religious believers across the world has brought renewed attention to the importance and foundations of genuine religious liberty. Too often, however, advocates of religious freedom fail to recognize the ways in which other aspects of freedom—including the rights to property and economic initiative—are intertwined with the freedom to act in accord with religious belief. In this wide-ranging volume, an interfaith, international group of prominent scholars and religious leaders explore the relationship between economic and religious liberty. A sound understanding of this relationship, rooted in the natural law and the truth about the human person, is indispensable if our future is to be characterized not by civil and religious strife but instead by peaceful religious practice and prosperous commerce among the diverse peoples of the world.

You can download the eBook from Amazon.

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California Flag

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has decided to uphold the California Department of Managed Health Care’s 2014 mandate that health care providers must include elective abortion coverage in all their plans. Previously, several health insurance companies in California had provided plans exempting these services for customers with religious objections, including churches and religiously-affiliated schools.

The statement released by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under the HHS rejected complaints that the California ruling violated the Weldon Amendment, which protects health care providers from being compelled to provide abortions. The amendment refuses to fund government programs that discriminate “on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” The definition of health care entity includes those directly providing the services, such as doctors, hospitals, and insurers. In response to the challenge, the OCR has determined that only the religious objections of those entities must be respected, not religious objections of their customers. The OCR statement points out that none of the health care providers had religious objections, so California can legally compel them to provide abortion services in their insurance plans. (more…)

The fight for religious liberty is only beginning to intensify in America, whether for retail giants, restaurant chains, bakers and florists, sacrificial nuns, or the imminent obstructions on the path paved by Obergefell vs. Hodges.

Yet even when facing these pressures for themselves, many American Christians still seek to withhold such freedoms from those of differing religious beliefs. Forgetting our position of exile, such a stance trades the first of our God-given freedoms for narrow self-interest and self-preservation.

Such profound disconnect was recently on vivid display at the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2016 Annual Meeting, where a pastor asked Dr. Russell Moore how a Christian can possibly support religious liberty for Muslims. “Do you actually believe that Jesus Christ would support this,” the pastor asked, “and that he would stand up and say, ‘Well, let us protect the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal’”?

Moore’s answer couldn’t be clearer:


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Following the recent Rome conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time”, held in celebration of 125th anniversary of Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical on private property, the Industrial Revolution and the spread of Marxist ideology, Acton’s Samuel Gregg was interviewed by Shalom World TV.

Vatican journalist Ashley Noronha, who hosts the India-based religious news magazine Voice of the Vatican, asked Gregg what was the the connection between religious and economic freedom and how traditional Catholic social teaching is responding to contemporary threats such liberties.  This is what he had to say: (more…)

On November 19, the Acton Institute was pleased to welcome Marina Nemat to the Mark Murray Auditorium as part of the 2015 Acton Lecture Series. Marina was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran, in what was at the time a relatively secular and free nation. (Granted, she lived under the dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – the Shah of Iran – but as we were reminded a couple of weeks ago by Jay Nordlinger, when it comes to dictators you have to grade on a curve.)  After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years in Evin, a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution.

Since 1991, Marina has lived in Canada. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, has been published in nearly 30 countries, and has been an international bestseller. In 2007, Marina received the inaugural Human Dignity Award from the European Parliament, and in 2008, she received the prestigious Grinzane Prize in Italy. In 2008/2009, she was an Aurea Fellow at University of Toronto’s Massey College, where she wrote her second book, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed. Marina regularly speaks at high schools, universities, and conferences around the world and sits on the Board of Directors at CCVT (Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture) and on advisory boards at ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) and PEN Canada. She also teaches memoir writing, in Farsi and in English, at the School of Continuing Studies at University of Toronto and writes book reviews for The Globe and Mail.

We’re pleased to be able to share Marina Nemat’s presentation with you via the video player below; you can also check out her Radio Free Acton interview here.

Hands On Originals is a small printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, that, up until recently, had very few problems when they declined to print a certain message.

Last year, however, the owner, Blaine Adamson, was found guilty of discrimination by a Lexington human rights commission for refusing to print T-shirts for a local gay pride festival. The commissioners ordered that Adamson must violate his conscience, and further, must participate in diversity training to be conducted by the commission.

Fortunately, this story has a happier ending than that of the baker and florist, as the Fayette Circuit Court ended up reversing the commission’s decision. “It is their constitutional right to hold dearly and to not be compelled to be part of an advocacy message opposed to their sincerely held Christian beliefs,” Judge James Ishmael wrote in his decision.

Watch below for more of Blaine’s testimony:

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