Notre_Dame_signEarlier today the Supreme Court threw out an appeals court decision that went against the University of Notre Dame over its religious objections to the Obamacare health law’s contraception requirement.

Last summer the high court ruled that Hobby Lobby Stores Ltd could, on religious grounds, seek exemptions from the contraception provision. Because this case, Notre Dame v. Burwell, was the only appeals court decision on the issue that pre-dated that ruling, the Supreme Court sent it back to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision ruling in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Until now, Notre Dame was the only nonprofit religious ministry in the nation without protection from the HHS mandate. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the federal government has relied heavily on the decision against Notre Dame in courts around the country, arguing that it should be able to impose similar burdens on religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate. For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty. The government fought hard to prevent this GVR, but the Supreme Court rejected their arguments.”

 

 

chinese-baby-girlIt’s no secret that the Chinese “one-child policy” has been brutal. Forced abortion and forced sterilizations have been common for decades. The policy has also left China will a dearth of females, causing issues with men finding suitable spouses and an uptick in human trafficking.

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, says that while many women around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day, it is not cause for celebration in China. Littlejohn:

I find it impossible to celebrate any advancement of women’s rights anywhere on earth, when one out of five women in the world is subject to a regime that will strap them down to tables, thrust its hands into their wombs and rip their little ones out, as these women scream and plead for the lives of babies they desperately want. The women’s movement can claim no real victory so long as this scourge against women continues to blight the face of the earth. Chinese women cannot stand up against forced abortion without risking detention, for themselves and for their families. It is time for all women to rise up for our sisters in China and be a voice for the voiceless.

Read “International Women’s Day a Travesty for Chinese Women and Baby Girls” at Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

HTFinal CoverPlease note update on free ebook giveaway.

Acton’s latest monograph, A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking, will be available as a free ebook download beginning Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 13. To access the free download, click on this link during the two-day time period.

Today, human trafficking impacts entire industries and job sectors—both legitimate and illegitimate. Monetarily, it is the second largest criminal activity in the world. Only the illegal drug trade is more profitable—and trafficking and drug smuggling are often linked. The profits generated from human trafficking play an enormous role in national and global economies. There is also the untold human cost. It is, as Pope Francis said, an open wound on humanity.

Experts believe that in the next ten years human trafficking (if left unchecked) will become more profitable to criminals than drugs and arms trafficking and will continue to grow in both developed and developing countries. The purpose of this monograph is to outline both the economic dimension and the moral fallout of modern slavery and to suggest ways that the business of trading in human beings can be severely curtailed.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, March 9, 2015
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Should Catholics Oppose the Death Penalty?
John Zmirak, The Stream

Four major Catholic papers have called for an end to capital punishment, but church teaching is more complicated

Rick Warren: “Thank Baptists for Religious Liberty”
Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism

Baptists have long been champions of religious freedom, recounted mega church pastor Rick Warren and Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore, in a panel moderated by Judge Ken Starr, president of Baptist affiliated Baylor University.

Jobs move people out of poverty
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

Last week, Keith Hall was selected to be the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director. A few high profile past CBO analyses – scoring the Affordable Care Act and a minimum wage hike – have drawn more attention to the appointment than usual. But his views on poverty – namely, that jobs help people escape poverty – also deserve a look.

The Right Figures Out How To Tell Stories
Nicole Russell, The Federalist

Finally someone on the Right is telling stories as good as the other guys–with real people, real problems, and conservative solutions.

ssmweddingcakeThe U.S. judiciary has made it increasingly clear that the rights of conscience either do not apply or are strictly limited for people who own businesses that serve the public. We have an obligation to keep fighting against this injustice against this judicial tyranny, but in the meantime, what are business owners to do? How, for example, should they respond when forced to violate their conscience by serving a same-sex wedding?

That question has been recently debated on Public Discourse, the excellent website of the Witherspoon Institute, by Russell K. Nieli and Jeffery J. Ventrella. Both men agree it would be morally permissible and even commendable for business owners to avoid violating the law by ceasing to serve all weddings, whether traditional or same-sex, or even by ceasing operations completely and finding another line of work. But they disagree on other options. Nieli suggests it would be morally permissible for such shopkeepers to comply with the law and provide services to same-sex couples if they also announced publicly. Ventrella disagrees, arguing that complying with an unjust law is always morally wrong and thus that any shopkeeper implementing Nieli’s suggestion would be engaged in an action that is inherently immoral.

Robert T. Miller joins the debate and asserts that a shopkeeper who objects to sex-same weddings but who nevertheless provides services at such weddings generally acts in a morally permissible way if he acts to comply with a validly-enacted law, to preserve the goodwill of his business, and to make a just profit.
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unknown artist from Japanese internment camp

unknown artist from Japanese internment camp

It is a disturbing part of American history: the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent and Japanese who were legally living in the U.S. during World War II. About 120,000 people were placed in internment camps in the western part of the U.S.

Life in the camps was harsh. The only furnishings were beds. There was no privacy. Many people lived in metal huts, which provided no protection from heat or cold. However, many of those interned were resourceful, and determined to make the very best of their situation.

Prisoners were denied any belongings coming in, and the barracks were furnished only with beds. There were no luxuries like tools, tables, chairs, or curtains for privacy. Later, they could order modest items by mail. But their ethic was of tremendous resourcefulness. Nothing was wasted. Onion sacks were unraveled and woven into baskets and cigarette cases. Tiny shells on the ground were collected for brooches for special occasions like weddings and funerals. Toothbrush handles were cut off and repurposed. An ugly stub of iron sewer pipe was incised with a bird and blooming plum branches to fashion a vase. A ring was made from a peach pit.

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Unemployment-0306Series Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, March 6, 2015
By

The Role of Natural Law in the Constitution
Robert H. Bork, The Imaginative Conservative

Natural law seems an unlikely topic for extensive television coverage, nor would one expect United States senators to develop high anxiety over the subject. Yet the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas brought both of those improbable events to pass.

Is “Free-Range Parenting” Bad?
Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative

Have you ever let your kids play in the yard unsupervised, or walk alone to a nearby park? Such activities may in fact be “unsubstantiated child neglect,” according to the Montgomery County Child Protective Services

In U.S., Pope’s Popularity Continues to Grow
Pew Research

Nearly two years after becoming the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis continues to grow more popular among Americans.

Seattle’s smart take on how to help the poor: subsidize their transit
Emily Badger, Washington Post

Earlier this week, transit agencies in and around Seattle launched a new, two-tiered fare system: one rate for most riders in a region full of high-wage tech jobs, and another for those living on less than 200 percent of the poverty line.

de Soto

de Soto

The work of Hernando de Soto has been followed closely for years at Acton and more recently at PovertyCure. See the 2001 interview “The Poor are the Solution, Not the Problem” in Religion & Liberty and a short film clip of de Soto talking about property rights and rule of law at PovertyCure. Search both sites and you’ll find much more. De Soto’s book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else is essential reading for those interested in his work and is available in the Acton book shop.

David Freddoso profiled de Soto earlier this week at Investor’s Business Daily.

Informality is a central concept in de Soto’s work on poverty. It describes the realm to which the Third World’s poorest are relegated — banished from their nations’ official economies to what he has called “the grubby basement of the precapitalist world.”

He argues that their exclusion — the product of a lack of enforceable property rights — holds back them and the entire world economy. It’s why capitalism, despite its triumph over communism and its wealth generation in America and Western Europe, has failed elsewhere. (more…)

matthew-baker-554x579

Fr. Matthew Baker

Alexis de Tocqueville, observing the young United States in the 1830s, wrote, “Wherever, at the head of a new undertaking, you see in France the government, and in England, a great lord, count on seeing in the United States, an association.” In the midst of recent tragedy — the untimely death of Fr. Matthew Baker, a Greek Orthodox priest killed in a car accident this past Sunday evening, leaving behind his wife and six children — it is a source of hope to see that this American associational persistence is still alive in the present.

Without hesitation, friends of Fr. Matthew set up a page at the crowd funding site gofundme, and they have already raised a tremendous sum to support Presvytera Katherine and the children.

The loss of Fr. Matthew has been felt far beyond Orthodox Christian circles and close friends. Americans across the country, utilizing modern technology for this good work, have come together across confessional lines to help a family they have never personally known.

As for myself, I had only just begun to know Fr. Matthew. I regret that is all I can say. We both were contributors to Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and belong to a Facebook group related to our writing there. I had just spoken with him (via Facebook) the previous night, not even 24 hours before his death. (more…)