Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
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Religious and secular advocates urge IRS to clarify rules on political endorsements from the pulpit
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Religious and secular advocacy groups jointly called Thursday (Jan. 29) for greater clarity by the Internal Revenue Service regarding nonprofits and political activity.

How to Convince Men to Help the Poor
Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard

New research finds the key to a successful fund-raising campaign is convincing them that their self-interest is aligned with your cause.

10 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking
Heather Davis Nelson, OnFaith

If you’re not sure where to begin engaging with human trafficking, start here.

Cliches of Progressivism #42 – “Jesus Christ Was a Progressive Because He Advocated Income Redistribution to Help the Poor”
Lawrence W. Reed, The Freeman

You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the deceit in this canard. You can be a person of any faith or no faith at all. You just have to appreciate facts.

labor traffickAs of March 2, 2015, companies that contract with the U.S. federal government must comply with laws aimed at curbing labor trafficking.

According to JDSupra, these laws impact contractors and sub-contractors, a group that includes over 300,000 businesses and organizations. Such organizations will now be required to

  • Prevent severe forms of trafficking and forced labor by taking concrete, preventive steps to ensure employees do not engage in trafficking-related activities.
  • Cooperate with, and provide access to, enforcement agencies investigating compliance with anti-trafficking and forced labor laws.
  • Mandatorily Disclose (or self-report) if it receives any credible information from any source that alleges a contractor employee, subcontractor, or subcontractor employee has engaged in conduct that violates the new FAR provisions.
  • Develop and maintain a detailed compliance plan for contracts for supplies.
  • Annually certify that, when applicable, it has implemented a compliance plan, and that neither it nor its employees engaged in any trafficking-related activities, or, if violations were identified, it has taken appropriate remedial and referral action.

Penalties include termination of contracts, class action suits, and imprisonment for those responsible within these business and organizations for over-site of these requirements.

Read “Groundbreaking Change to Rules for Federal Contractors Aims to Stamp Out Human Trafficking Up and Down the Supply Chain” at JDSupra Business Advisor.

A friend of mine recently shared this short clip of Thomas Merton’s last lecture. He has some interesting things to say about communism and monasticism, as well as what is clearly a sly promo for Coca-Cola at the end.

“From now on, brothers, everybody stands on his own feet.” This would be a great summary statement of what the monastic vow of poverty actually meant to most monks, historically. With regards to monasteries being the only places that have ever fulfilled the socialist ideal “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” I would add that they were able to do this because they valued the division of labor and the potential good of enterprise.

Monasteries, ancient and medieval, were centers of production, invention, and exchange, in addition to faith and worship. We may often think of the Scriptures and works of literature, philosophy, or theology that they copied in their scriptoria, but these same communities have also left us volumes of financial records, documenting extensive holdings in land and capital, as well as ventures in banking, lending, and long distance trade.

For one monk’s take on the good of commerce, see my recent Acton Commentary, “The Monk as Merchant,” here.

Also, I’ll be lecturing again on “Markets & Monasticism” at this year’s Acton University, our summer conference. If you haven’t done so already, take the time to learn more about it here.

Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin

Just say no to fracking!

For all of their wailing and gnashing of teeth about transparency, some in the American progressive movement certainly turn a blind eye toward the funding of their own pet causes. Last week, The Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay reported that millions of dollars from unknown sources have been passed through a company in Bermuda and transferred to American nonprofits who oppose hydraulic fracturing and, it seems, any industry involved with fossil fuels. Among these nonprofits are several established groups of religious shareholder activists.

Markay quotes a Senate Minority Staff report released last summer by the U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works (CEPW):

This report articulates several possible reasons for the convoluted and secretive structure of the far-left environmental movement; yet, at the end of the day, we are still asking – why? Why [are billionaires and millionaires] going to such extreme lengths to hide their generous support of supposed charitable causes?

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golden eggWanting a baby and not being able to have one is one of the worst feelings is the world; I know firsthand. It puts a person in a vulnerable and sometimes desperate state of mind, not to mention the bundle of emotions one must deal with. The fertility industry knows this, and preys on it.

Jennifer Lahl also knows this; she is the founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. She wants to call out the fertility industry on their “dirty little secrets.” First, Lahl says that the fertility industry does not do long-term follow-up studies on the health of egg donors. These are women whose egg production has been chemically stimulated, and they are then paid for the harvesting of their eggs. It’s popular among college students, military wives and other cash-strapped women. (more…)

global-poverty-2-15One of the primary assumptions of the modern age is that all choices are multiple choice. Whether we are choosing the color of the car we drive, the occupation that we will work, or the lifestyle we will live, choice is the dominate paradigm.

While the expansion of choices has, in many ways, expanded human flourishing, it has also led, in some areas, to a false belief that merely wanting something to be multiple choice will make it so.

But what if some large-scale problems only have one solution? What if instead of being an open-ended “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel, these problems are like mathematics, with one right answer?

Global poverty is a primary example, argues Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus, of a problem with only one type of solution:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, February 2, 2015
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Challenging Unjust Laws Takes Prudence, Courage, and Common Sense
Russell Nieli, Public Discourse

In the real world, human goods are often in conflict with one another. This reality forces us to make difficult choices and trade-offs that cannot be eliminated or adjudicated by following simple rules.

Congress Seeks to Improve Global Anti-Trafficking Efforts
Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal

As National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month comes to a close, Congress is turning its attention to combatting human trafficking. New estimates suggest that as many as 35.8 million people are victims of human trafficking. Renewed attention on this international crisis is necessary if the U.S. is to continue to lead global anti-trafficking efforts.

We’re hardly doing anything about the single biggest killer on the planet
Gwynn Guilford, Quartz

What hardly anyone’s spending on is pollution—even though it’s the most lethal force on the planet, killing nearly 8.9 million people in 2012, the last year for which there was data.

These are the religious beliefs of Europe’s leaders—including the atheists
Kabir Chibber and Jason Karaian, Quarz

Despite the ceremony being officiated by an archbishop, Alexis Tsipras this week became the first Greek prime minister to be sworn in without taking a religious oath (pictured above). You see, Tsipras is an avowed atheist.

superbowl-monkeyContrary to the trite assertion made every year by people who don’t know how to appreciate football, it is not really true that the commercials the best thing about the Super Bowl (at least not always). Sure, it seems that way because the television viewer is seeing commercials than actual game play (in an average game, the ratio of commercials to playing time is seven to one ). The reality, however, is that most of the commercials aren’t all that memorable. Only a few stand out every year and they are almost always beer commercials.

But maybe (like me) you don’t like beer , or (also like me) you’re a Southern Baptist and aren’t supposed to condone beer commercials, or maybe (again, me) your just tired of the anthropomorphizing of Clydesdale horses. Beer commercials are also uninspired, they don’t generally tell us much about ourselves as a people (other than that Americans like to drink beer). That’s why I prefer the commercials that focus on vocation and stewardship.

Ads that focus on how we use (or misuse) our resources and vocational abilities have been some of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. Here are seven of my favorite examples. What do you think these commercials tell us about the American view of stewardship and vocation?

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primer-pentecostalIn the latest Journal of Markets and Morality, Joseph Gorra reviews Dr. Charlie Self’s new book, Flourishing Churches and Communities, calling it a “joyous, practical, and insightful primer to the integration of ‘faith, work, and economics” that will inspire “a pathway for leaders of Pentecostal thought to reflect on public life in a renewed way.”

The book is one of four tradition-specific primers from the Acton Institute, and although it focuses specifically on a Pentecostal perspective, Gorra rightly observes that Self writes in a way that draws wide appreciation for the work of the Spirit in economic life. Avoiding “provincial understandings” of Pentecostals themselves, Self is careful to present Pentecostalism in a “nontriumphalistic manner,” Gorra writes, which mainstream evangelicals may find “accommodationist to many of their own theological sensibilities.”

As an example, the book seeks to highlight and illuminate five key principles, which on their face fit rather snugly within these discussions across Christianity as a whole:

  1. Work is good.
  2. Although sin has effaced human nature and work, it has not erased the divine nature in people and the ability to bring good to the world.
  3. God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ and is now working through the church to express the life of the kingdom in the present age.
  4. God the Holy Spirit actively energizes compassion for the poor and wealth creation for community flourishing.
  5. Cultural, economic, and social institutions are built on transcendent moral foundations.

As Gorra duly notes, numbers 4 and 5 are perhaps the most distinctly Pentecostal, demonstrating where Pentecostalism may offer its most distinct contribution to such matters: (more…)

When is a ban not a ban? One answer might be when it is based on moral suasion rather than legal coercion. (I would also accept: When it’s a Target.)

In this piece over at the Federalist, Georgi Boorman takes up the prudence of a petition to get Target to remove smutty material and paraphernalia related to Fifty Shades from its shelves.

Boorman rightly points to the limitations of this kind of cultural posturing. Perhaps this petition illustrates more of a domination mentality than authentic cultural engagement, and Boorman’s right to offer many more hopeful options for engaging the kinds of cultural corruption that this case provides evidence of. I also tend to favor the more direct, personal, and relational methods of engagement to petitions, charters, public statements, and open letters, and there’s a lot of wisdom offered in Boorman’s piece.

shades_banned (more…)