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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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
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Boko Haram Threatens To Sell 165 Kidnapped Christian Girls to Traffickers
Kate Tracy, Christianity Today

#BringBackOurGirls gains momentum as Nigeria search spreads to Cameroon and Chad.

An Anti-Cronyism and Free-Market Agenda
Sen. Mike Lee, The Christian Post

This Opportunity Deficit presents itself in three principal ways: immobility among the poor, trapped in poverty; insecurity in the middle class, where families just can’t seem to get ahead; and cronyist privilege at the top.

Licensing isn’t necessary to ensure quality
Art Carden, AL.com

Occupational licensing can raise quality. It also raises prices, reduces output, and makes the labor market less flexible.

How to Fairly Tax Families
Sita Nataraj Slavov, The American

Based on fairness concerns, there’s a strong case for making the tax system more marriage neutral by shifting to individual rather than family-based taxation, and for providing increased support to low-income individuals without children.

helping-hand-610gr“The Bible does say a lot of justice and the poor,” notes Kevin DeYoung, “but if we are to be convicted and motivated by truth, we must pay more careful attention to what the Bible actually does and does not say.”

An example is a concept that DeYoung says can be derived from the Bible, the principle of moral proximity:

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The Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, China before demolitionb

The Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, China before demolition

Wenzhou, China, is known as the “Jerusalem of the East” because of its large Christian population, a population that had, until recently, enjoyed the Sanjiang Church for worship. A massive structure, Sanjiang Church took over 12 years to build and was a site of pilgrimage for Chinese Catholics.

Last week, however, the Chinese government (which had previously lauded the structure’s architecture) deemed the structure “illegal” and destroyed the entire building,  bricking off massive statues to hide them from sight. The government cited bribery on the part of at least 5 officials as the reason for the church’s demolition.

The authorities’ behaviour is reminiscent of the smashing of church property during the Cultural Revolution,” another member of the city’s Catholic community told UCA News’s Chinese-language service.

The removals, news of which emerged Wednesday, took place on Saturday, 48 hours, before government demolition teams razed a Protestant church in the same city.

Wenzhou’s Sanjiang church became a symbol of resistance to the Communist Party’s draconian religious policies in early April. (more…)

On Exchange and Usury, Cajetan, ThomasChristian’s Library Press has released a new translation of two treatises on exchange and usury by Thomas Cajetan (1469-1534), a Dominican theologian, philosopher, and cardinal.

Although best known for his commentaries on the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan also wrote dozens of other works, including short treatises on socioeconomic problems.

Published under the name On Exchange and Usury, these treatises reflect on the banking industry of the early modern era in the context of the Church’s usury doctrine, examining which transactions were licit, and which involved usury, among other things. The book is part of CLP’s growing series, Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law.

In the introduction, Raymond de Roover summarizes some of the historical context, as well as Cajetan’s contribution therein:

Because of the Church’s usury doctrine, bankers were not supposed to charge interest and, consequently, had to look for some other way of lending money at a profit, with the result that banking became tied to exchange: local banking to manual exchange (cambium minutum), and foreign banking to real exchange or exchange by bills (cambium per litteras). Since the discounting of commercial paper was ruled out by the usury prohibition, bankers bought bills of exchange at a price that was determined by the foreign exchange rates… (more…)

sale of peopleRani Hong was a very young girl in rural India when her life was snatched away from her by human trafficking. In desperation, her mother allowed her to be taken away by a woman she thought she could trust, a woman who promised to care for Rami. And she did, for a while. However, the lure of money was too great and Rami was sold into human trafficking at age seven.

I was taken to an area where I did not know the language, where everyone was a stranger,” Hong recalls. “I cried for my mom to come and get me – that’s all a seven-year-old mind can understand.” Traumatized, she stopped eating and became physically and mentally ill. “My captors labeled me ‘destitute and dying,’ meaning that I had no value in the forced child labor market.” The only way the traffickers could profit from her, Hong explains, was to put her up for illegal international adoption. Trafficked into Canada, she was beaten, starved, and caged – “seasoned for submission,” in the parlance of her captors. A photo of her at age eight shows an emaciated little girl with prominent bruises on her arms and legs, whose eyes are swollen nearly shut. “I couldn’t even talk,” she says. “I had completely shut down.”

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
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High Court Ruling Favors Prayer at Council Meeting
Mark Sherman, Associated Press

A narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings on Monday, declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse.

Sweden Foreign Minister: Eastern Orthodoxy main threat to western civilization
Agora Dialogue

”The new anti-west and anti-decadent line [of conduct] of Putin is based on the deep conservatism of Eastern Orthodox ideas,” Carl Bildt is convinced.

On Prayer, Supreme Court Upholds Freedom
Russell Moore, Time

Prayer at the beginning of a meeting is a signal that we aren’t ultimately just Americans. We are citizens of the State, yes, but the State isn’t ultimate.

Self-Sufficiency, Not Cell Phones, for Poor Americans Should be Government’s Goal
Rachel Sheffield, The Foundry

Poor Americans may be “better off” today than before the government’s War on Poverty began in the 1960s, as a New York Time article published last week said. But they remain “far behind” and will continue to do so unless work requirements are strengthened in the nation’s welfare programs.