International Justice Mission (IJM) is an NGO working globally to prevent violence, reform corrupt systems, protect and promote rule of law and sustain changes. That’s their mission, summed up in a few brief words.

What it really means is that girls like Suhana are saved. Suhana was forced into India’s sex trade, not once, but twice. IJM did not give up on her. Hear her powerful story.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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How the Supreme Court Reacted to This Town Allowing Politicians Bigger Signs Than Churches
Hans von Spakovsky, The Daily Signal

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, a challenge by a church to a town ordinance regulating signs.

Niger protesters torched 45 churches – police
BBC

At least 10 people have been killed and 45 churches set on fire since protests erupted in Niger over the French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, police say.

How much is a (micro)life worth?
Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist

Rather than asking “What is the value of human life?” Schelling and Carlson asked what we are willing to pay to reduce the risk of premature death by spending money on road safety or hospitals. The value of a life was replaced with the value of a statistical life.

Venezuela’s Bishops Have A Message For Pope Francis on Communism
Monica Showalter, Investor’s Business Daily

In a refreshingly powerful and direct statement, Venezuela’s bishops Monday blamed “Marxist socialism” and “communism” by name for the horrors and chaos gripping their country, according to a story in El Universal.

boy-in-court“Status.” Webster’s defines it as “high position or rank in society.” Yet for many young people, this could not be further from the truth. In the language of social workers and court systems, “dual-status” youths are young people who are involved in the juvenile justice system and child welfare system. Case in point:

She was born to an incarcerated mother. She was repeatedly abused by relatives with whom she spent much of her early life.

By the time she turned 10, she had been sexually abused by an older brother, a pimp, who forced her into prostitution.

She didn’t last long at foster homes and ended up living in group homes in the Northern California area. She ran away from placements dozens of times and continued prostituting herself.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Alicia — whose real name is being withheld to conceal her identity — repeatedly landed in juvenile detention on solicitation or related charges.

One of the biggest problems for these kids are that the adults in their lives who are most positively involved – social workers and probation officers – rarely, if ever, communicated. Even more concerning, probation officers are only involved if and when a child has trouble with the law, and a probation officer’s main concern is to make sure the child doesn’t end up in trouble again … but not necessarily fixing the issue that landed the child in trouble in the first place. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Monday, January 19, 2015
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Earlier this year, UCLA made available for the first time the audio of a speech from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. given just over a month after the march from Selma to Montgomery. On April 27, 1965, King addressed a number of topics, including debate surrounding the Voting Rights Act.

At one point in the speech, King stops to address a number of “myths” that are often heard and circulated, and one of these is of perennial interest, as it has to do with the interaction between positive law, morality, and culture. We often hear, for instance, that law is downstream from culture, and this is true enough. Thus King admits (starting at around the 33:35 mark) that there is some truth in this kind of view as far as it goes. But this does not mean that there is no place for legislation.

As King puts it,

It may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also. So while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men. And when you change the habits of men, pretty soon the attitudes and the hearts will be changed. And so there is a need for strong legislation constantly to grapple with the problems we face.

MLK UCLA
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from the film "Ida"

from the film “Ida”

The film industry quite often gets religion wrong. Either the industry completely misunderstands faith (think Noah and the recent Exodus), or the movies are so saccharine that theaters ought to offer diabetes testing for movie-goers on the way out of the theater (Left Behind and anything else Kirk Cameron has been involved with). This is really too bad, because movies are an art form that have the power to move us, to make us think, to ponder more deeply critical questions of our fallen human nature, our relationships with others and with God.

Zelda Caldwell, at Aleteia, has put together a nifty list of ten great religious films you can watch now on Netflix. Each of these has their own merit, and there is a nice range of films included. I’ll note just a few here: (more…)

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Pope Francis and Benedict XVI

Horrific acts of violence and the dangers of free expression have been on everyone’s minds lately. After the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the ongoing terrorism by Boko Haram, and countless other attacks and atrocities, many commentators are discussing violence in the name of Islam and limits on free expression. One of these people is Pope Francis, who discussed the Charlie Hebdo attack during a flight to the Philippines. Another, who actually made the remarks almost ten years ago at the University of Regensburg, is Pope Benedict XVI.  Director of Research at Acton, Samuel Gregg, and editor-at-large of National Review Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez, recently discussed Benedict’s Regensburg address, violence in the name of Islam, and free expression.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: What do you make of the controversy over Pope Francis’s comments, on the plane ride to the Philippines, about free expression?

Samuel Gregg: The context, of course, was his remarks about the unacceptability of violence in the name of religion. The pope affirmed that such violence is indeed unacceptable. Pope Francis also indicated that he thinks freedom of expression is essential. The difficulty, to my mind, surrounds his comments that freedom of expression cannot be a basis for offending other people with regard to religious matters. We all know that freedom of expression isn’t absolute.

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This post is part of a symposium on vocation between the Patheos Faith and Work Channel and the Patheos Evangelical Channel, and originally appeared at the Oikonomia blog, a resource from the Acton Institute on faith, work, and economics.


3218139011_6c328939cb_bWe’ve seen a renewed focus among Christians on the deeper value, meaning, and significance of our daily work, leading to lots of reflection on how we might “find God in the workplace.” As a result, Christians are becoming ever more attentive to things like vocation and calling, looking for transcendent purpose and value in the world of work, beyond simply funding missionaries or evangelizing co-workers.

Yet for those of us who find ourselves in seasons or careers that seem at odds with our vocation, such revelation can only add to our frustration. “If God has placed a calling on my life in the realm of business, what am I doing here?” we ask. We read or hear stories from stock brokers, garbage collectors, artists, and academics who feel “called by God” to their particular stations, yet when we look our own position, we feel and seenothing of significance. What gives?

If these are questions you’re wrestling with, God may indeed be in the process of moving you on to something else; if so, the process of uncovering those next steps will involve plenty of prayer, counsel, discernment, prudence, and wisdom (a topic for another day). But he may be calling you to simply endure and continue right where you are. In either case, the question remains: How can we persevere in the here and now? (more…)

vox-inequalityImagine that the wealth of both the poorest and richest Americans were to double overnight (and the middle class wealth stayed the same). Would the poor be better off? Most of us would agree they would be. But those obsessed with income and wealth inequality would fret that the poor were in even worse shape than before since inequality just got much, much worse.

The difference in opinion is based on our choice of perspective. If you care about the only inequality that matters (consumption inequality) then you’d cheer that people had more income to increase their consumption. But those concerned with the relative measure of income and wealth would (correctly) note that what bothers them merely got worse. The poor are richer, sure, but the rich got richer too and that’s. . . unfair? (more…)

chinese traffickingUnderground delivery rooms. Babies smuggled in designer handbags. Criminal gangs kidnapping pregnant women. It’s all part of a growing concern in China: child trafficking.

According to CNN, Chinese authorities rescued 37 newborns and one toddler this week, arresting over 100 people in the process. The operation included the raid of an “underground delivery room” in an abandoned warehouse, where one baby was found near death under a large pile of blankets. (more…)

Freedom-of-ReligionThomas Jefferson wanted what he considered to be his three greatest achievements to be listed on his tombstone. The inscription, as he stipulated, reads “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”

Today we celebrate the 229th anniversary of one of those great creations: the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

Each year, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day, and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.” One way to honor the day is to reflect on these ten quotes about religious liberty that were expressed by some of our country’s greatest leaders:

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