francis 4With only a few weeks before Pope Francis makes his first U.S. visit, the media frenzy is already beginning. At Crux, the observation is made that “pet projects” of Catholics across the nation will be vying for Vatican attention. However, the pope likely has his own agenda.

With his encyclical, Laudato Si’, still fresh in people’s minds, Pope Francis will certainly speak to the environment. Also, the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is on his schedule. But with stops in New York City and Washington, D.C., talk will also likely turn to business and economics. And that, says Acton Institute President Rev. Robert Sirico, is concerning.

[Pope Francis] has an allergy to economics, that he doesn’t quite get it, that he’s never really studied it,” Sirico said, referring to the pope’s admission that economics isn’t his forte. (more…)

womensequalitydayIf you’ve been on Facebook today you’ve probably noticed the graphic promoting “Women’s Equality Day” which claims “On Aug 26, 1920, women achieved the right to vote in the US.”

President Obama also issued a proclamation today which begins, “On August 26, 1920, after years of agitating to break down the barriers that stood between them and the ballot box, American women won the right to vote.”

The problem with these claims is that they imply American women had no right to vote prior to the certification of the 19th Amendment. But as Joshua Treviño explains,

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Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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Pope to commemorate World Day of Prayer for Creation
Catholic World News

At his August 26 general audience, Pope Francis announced that he will commemorate the 1st World Day of Prayer for Creation at a Liturgy of the Word in St. Peter’s Basilica on September 1. “In a communion of prayer with our Orthodox brothers and with all persons of good will, we want to offer our contribution to overcoming the ecological crisis that humanity is experiencing,” he said.

Kenya’s Council of Churches launches climate change campaign ahead of Paris conference
Frederick Nzwili, National Catholic Reporter

Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, said churches should be proactive in lobbying for quick responses to global warming. “Climate change is to blame for conflicts over resources and new epidemics,” said Wabukala. “There will be no peace if we do not act to protect communities from negative impacts of climate change like hunger, water scarcity and loss of natural beauty,” added Wabukala.

Follow both science, faith to battle climate change, Catholic bishop says in Norfolk
Bill Bartel, Hampton Roads PilotOnline

Responding to Pope Francis’ call this summer for prompt action to address climate change, Catholic Bishop Francis DiLorenzo told an audience of about 200 Tuesday night that people must learn about the science of what is happening to the world.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Pope Francis is famous for his strident denunciations of a “throwaway culture” that ruthlessly discards human beings not considered useful in an economy that ‘kills’,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. But has the pope accurately identified the real cause of the problem?

My concerns were only heightened by the secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials blithely discussing buying and selling the body parts of aborted babies. Part of me is nervously awaiting the pope to denounce capitalism for this social evil as well. In fact, there are U.S. federal laws prohibiting profit-making in this type of commerce and Planned Parenthood itself denies making any money from it. (Even abortionists recognize the evil of profits!) But another part of me questions whether it’s the quest for profits that drives the abortion industry to not only perform but brazenly justify its barbaric practices.

Let me restate the problem this way: Assuming Planned Parenthood is telling the truth that it makes no profit in the buying and selling of fetal body parts, would that make the “crushing” and “crunching” of babies acceptable? Would it be ok to abort babies out of “humanitarian” or “compassionate” rather than “self-interested” motives? Are government-subsidized abortions somehow less gruesome than private-sector ones?

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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Should Christians Lie to End Abortion?
Ray Nothstine, Christian Post

Is it ethical for Christians to deceive with undercover videos to further their goals of exposing the immoral behavior of Planned Parenthood and ending abortion?

Troubling Signs of Minimum Wage Damage in Los Angeles
Adam Ozimek, Dismal Scientist

Disagreement in the literature on minimum wages illustrates that different comparisons or controls can easily give different answers. However, as I’ve been watching the data, one case is becoming too stark to ignore: Los Angeles.

Critics petition Obama to abolish faith-based hiring bias
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Concerned that faith-based groups can discriminate in hiring while receiving federal funds, a coalition of 130 organizations told President Obama the policy will tarnish his legacy of fair and equal treatment for all Americans.

Media Ignores New Orleans Success Because It’s Good News on Charters
Richard Whitmire, The Seventy Four

Just for a moment, suppose that convincing evidence emerged from an unimpeachable source showing that one city in the U.S. had dramatically improved its schools for poor and minority students – a feat that has eluded nearly every other city in the country. That would be major national news, right? At the very least worthy of a blurb. A tweet?

income-inequalityIncome inequality and poverty are separate issues. For many people this is obvious. But there are numerous Christians who believe that income inequality is an important issue because they assume it is a proxy for poverty. If this were true, Christians would indeed need to be concerned about income inequality because concern about poverty is a foundational principle of any Christian view of economics.

Fortunately, there is neither a necessary connection nor correlation. A country could have absolutely no poverty at all and have extremely high-income inequality. The reason is because income inequality (measured by the Gini coefficient), measures relative, not absolute, income.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Harry Frankfurt, a philosopher who has written a book on inequality, has a guest post at Forbes in which he makes the same point: income inequality and poverty aren’t the same thing.

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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
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Climate change has become the one thing all religions are preaching against
Nayantara Narayanan, Scroll.in

When Pope Francis chose to champion the battle against climate change via papal encyclical in June this year, the act was lauded as the one that could galvanise the world community far more than 30 years of pleading by climate scientists. Now Muslim leaders across the world have echoed the moral call against climate change with their Islamic Climate Declaration issued last week calling for a fossil-fuel phase-out.

The Pope and air conditioning?
Rev. Mark H. Creech, RenewAmerica

I can only imagine how Catholics in the various hotter climates of the world are going to react when they finally get the news their Pope thinks air conditioning is something they ought to forgo in life. Ahhhhh, I don’t think so. As someone once said, “It’s so hot in some parts of the world the inhabitants there have to live somewhere else.” As a college buddy of mine studying missions in tropical countries used to say, “Its hotter there than an ant’s butt on a radiator.”

The Pope as illegal immigrant?
Gene Veith, Patheos

The Pope decided not to because if he visited Mexico, he would have to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and he didn’t time this visit. But Catholic opponents of illegal immigration, including the Catholic Republican presidential contenders (Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki) can expect to feel pressure from the pontiff, as they will also on climate change.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
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Meeting God as an American
David Paul Deavel, Library of Law and Liberty

“When I meet God,” wrote Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), “I expect to meet him as an American. Not most importantly as an American, to be sure, but as someone who tried to take seriously, and tried to get others to take seriously, the story of America within the story of the world.”

Should Military Chaplains Be Forced to Conduct Same-Sex Weddings?
Greg Davis, The Daily Signal

Last month, the United States Army celebrated the 240th anniversary of the Army Chaplain Corps. Amidst the celebrations there was also concern: there seems to be a growing threat to religious liberty for military chaplains.

More troubling signs of minimum wage damage on the West Coast, Part II
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas

As predicted by economic theory and supported by much of the empirical evidence, minimum wage increases this year in Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco are having their expected effect: fewer jobs for hotel workers in Los Angeles and fewer jobs for restaurant workers in Seattle and San Francisco.

The Good City and the Good Citizen
Berny Belvedere, Front Porch Republic

The well-ordered soul is like the well-ordered city — apart from this organizational excellence, human flourishing, whether individually or communally, is just not possible.

Bee coloniesThe so-called bee controversy is gaining traction, claiming another company that has promised shareholders it will stop selling neonicotinoid pesticides (pesticides also known as neonics, which they incorrectly blame for colony collapse disorder). Green America announced last weekend it has secured a promise from Lowe’s Companies, Inc., to “phase out neonics and plants pre-treated with them by the spring of 2019 (or sooner, if possible). It is also working with suppliers to minimize pesticide use overall and move to safer alternatives.”

Why is Lowe’s capitulating to an agenda that has no credible scientific basis? (more…)

What is the difference between paying a tax and donating to a charity? Is it moral to force others to give to the cause of your choice? Is it moral for the government to force others to give to the cause of your choice?

Rob Gressis, a professor of philosophy, went on campus at California State University – Northridge, to ask students those questions.

You can see an extended version of the video here.