first amendmentKatherine Stewart is most unhappy about the recent Supreme Court decision, Greece v. Galloway. The Court upheld the right of the town of Greece, New York, to being town hall meetings with prayer, so long as no one was coerced into participating. And that makes Ms. Stewart unhappy.

In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, Ms. Stewart decries the Court’s decision as something akin to a vast, right-wing conspiracy.

The first order of business is to remove objections by swiping aside the idea that soft forms of establishment exist at all. Here, the Greece decision delivers, substantially.

A second element of the plan for undermining concerns based on the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is to reinterpret public acts as personal expressions of speech by private individuals. Thus, when the minister appointed by the municipal government of Greece bids “all rise,” the Supreme Court majority tells us, this is not an establishment of religion because the words are not uttered by public officials. And when the town leaders respond with a sign of the cross, that isn’t establishment either, because, just then, public officials are acting as private individuals.

Another prong in the assault on the Establishment Clause is to use neutrality among religious denominations as a wedge for inserting the (presumed) majority religion into state business.

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mcdonalds“Clean up your own mess. Your mother doesn’t work here.”

That was a sign, printed on dot matrix printer paper, which hung in the breakroom of the McDonald’s where I worked. While that was nearly thirty years ago, I suspect that same sign is still there (though probably reprinted on a laser printer). But the idea behind it has changed. Your mother may not work at McDonalds, but the company—and others that hire low-skilled employees—are increasingly taking on the role of in loco parentis.

Lessons in basic life skills that were once taught by parents—such as punctuality, self-direction, basic personal hygiene—are increasingly being provided by the shift manager at the local fast food restaurant. That is why it’s absurd to claim that companies that are willing to hire people who are unqualified for the labor force are somehow getting over on the American taxpayer.

As Reihan Salam,
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amnesty internationalYesterday, Joe Carter wrote about Boko Haram, the terrorist group that has kidnapped hundreds of girls in Nigeria from the Christian school, and is now threatening to sell them into the sex trafficking trade. Salil Shetty, Secretary General of the human rights organization Amnesty International, is calling upon the Nigerian government to initiate a transparent investigation of the girls’ kidnapping and an immediate release of the girls.

The horrific abduction shows the serious nature of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law being committed by Boko Haram. It is imperative that Nigeria acts swiftly and firmly to secure their safe return – with international support if needed – but the process must also demonstrate a commitment to human dignity, human rights, transparency and accountability. To do this, Nigeria needs the help of all its friends attending the Abuja World Economic Forum.

Yet Amnesty International is also pushing for legalized prostitution or, as they say,“the decriminalization of sex work.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 8, 2014
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Prosperity, Poverty, and Wisdom

Thomas Schreiner, Credo Magazine

Sometimes people say the Bible doesn’t speak to real life, to what we deal with every day. But Proverbs shows this isn’t true. We have seen that Proverbs gives instruction on the most practical and down to earth things in life.

Why Political Corruption Matters
Rachel Lu, Crisis Magazine

Citizens of relatively free societies simply have trouble appreciating the deep and pervasive impact that oppressive authority can have on a society.

The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States
Pew Research

Most Hispanics in the United States continue to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. But the Catholic share of the Hispanic population is declining, while rising numbers of Hispanics are Protestant or unaffiliated with any religion.

Where Is America’s Anti-Corruption Strategy?
Michael Rubin, Commentary

Corruption did not cause Boko Haram nor create al-Qaeda, nor does it alone explain the Taliban. Nevertheless, the failure of the West to create a comprehensive strategy to root out corruption enables the phenomenon to spread like a cancer, depressing societal immunity, and enabling groups like Boko Haram and al-Qaeda a broader ability to act.

“Has the War on Drugs revived the 19th Century progressive crusade against ‘degenerates’?” asks Anthony Bradley in the second of this week’s Acton Commentary.

The United States currently has over 2.3 million prisoners incarcerated in federal, state, and local jails around the country. According to an April report by the Sentencing Project, that number presents a 500 percent increase in incarcerations over the past 40 years. This increase produces “prison overcrowding and fiscal burdens on states to accommodate a rapidly expanding penal system” despite the evidence that incarceration is not working. How did this happen? The culprit is usually identified as the failed policies associated with the War on Drugs. Because blacks are disproportionately swept up in the campaign against drugs, some scholars refer to the results of mass incarceration as the new “The New Jim Crow.” While the original intentions may have been well-meaning the long-term consequences may be worse: The War on Drugs may actually be class-based eugenics by another name.

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

“We have replaced charity with humanitarianism, says Michael Matheson Miller in the first of this week’s Acton Commentary, “a hollowed-out secular and materialist vision of Christian love.”

Concern for the poor is at the heart of Christianity. Saint John Paul II called poverty one of the greatest moral challenges of our time, and to ignore the plight of the poor has consequences for our eternal souls.

Pope Francis addressed poverty in Evangelii Gaudium: “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us” (#54).

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

boko-haram-nigeria-350x187What is going on with the mass kidnappings of children in Nigeria?

During the night of April 16, dozens of armed men from the terrorist group Boko Haram captured over 300 Christian girls aged 12 to 15 who were sleeping in dormitories at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria. About 50 students managed to escape, but 276 were still being held according to Nigerian state police. The group has since captured 8 more girls.

The kidnappers took the girls into the 23,000 square miles Sambisa Forest, which is nearly eight times the size of the U.S.’ Yellowstone National Park, a known shelter for the extremists.

Who is Boko Haram?

Boko Haram (which translates to “Western education is sinful”) is the Hausa language nickname for the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad. Founded in 2002, the terrorist group is comprised of radical Islamists who oppose both Westerners and “apostate” Muslims. Based in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger, the organisation seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law, putting a stop to what it deems “Westernization.” Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: “Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors.”

The group is known for attacking, kidnapping, and killing Christians and Muslims, bombing churches, attacking schools, and destroying police stations. Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013.

Why did they take the children?
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