Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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gay new blackAt The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter (Senior Editor for the Acton Institute) does some speculating on whether or not “gay is the new black.” That is, can we equate sexual behavior and race when we are discussing questions about equality, marriage, adoption, and discrimination?

By now, most of us are familiar with the issues surrounding Christian business owners (such as bakers and photographers) who have declined to do business for a homosexual wedding. Our nation is currently struggling with whether or not a person with religious beliefs can be forced to violate those beliefs in the name of equality. If I (a Christian) own a hall that I rent out for parties, receptions, etc., can I refuse to rent to a Hispanic or black family? The law says no, and rightly so. Can I refuse to rent that same hall out to a gay couple celebrating their wedding? Carter dissects the issues:

The argument to make this comparison takes the following form:

Major Premise: A sexual orientation is analogous to the category of race.

Minor Premise: Race is a category protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Conclusion: Therefore, sexual orientation should have the same civil-rights protections as those afforded to race.

The question we will examine is whether the major premise is true. Is sexual orientation and its behavior analogous to race? Before we can answer that question, we we must consider what constitutes a justification for anti-discrimination laws.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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The War on Humans
Wesley Smith, First Things

[B]eginning in the late 1960s, a subversive misanthropy began to gestate within environmentalism. This view does not see the earth and the fullness thereof—in the Biblical turn of phrase—as ours to develop responsibly for human benefit, but instead castigates humans as a “disease” (or “parasites,” “maggots,” “cancer,” take your pick) afflicting the planet, best treated with the antibiotic of radical human depopulation and implacable opposition to economic growth.

Reasonable Hope for Our Secular Age
An interview with Greg Forster, The Gospel Coalition

For Christians in the secularizing West, the days of privilege have ended. And that’s not entirely a bad thing.

Rikers Island Tackles Rearrest Rate With Country’s First Social Impact Bond
Ken Stier, Free Enterprise

What is different is the way the program is being funded — through the country’s first social impact bond. With the innovative financing option, Goldman Sachs’ [Urban Investment Group] is lending the city $9.6 million to fund the program for four years. The bank would only get repaid — plus interest —if the program succeeds in reducing recidivism.

Texas’s Cost-Benefit Guide to Choosing a College
Fawn Johnson, The Atlantic

A new website offers data on tuition, fees, and potential earnings from the state’s public universities.

Blog author: dpahman
Monday, February 24, 2014
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Today at Red River Orthodox, I offer a brief introduction to the liberal tradition for Orthodox Christians living in the West:

Liberalism, historically, is a broad intellectual tradition including a large and disparate group of thinkers. The epistemological differences between John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant do not stop them all from being liberals. In economics the range extends from Friedrich Hayek to John Maynard Keynes. In political philosophy, from John Rawls to Robert Nozick. For that matter, both the American and French Revolutions have liberal foundations, though often (and rightly) contrasted.

I conclude by encouraging a more nuanced engagement with the West than is sometimes the case in the East:

[F]or a responsible, “liberal engagement” with the West from an Orthodox Christian perspective, it will not do to dismiss anything we don’t like as Western and liberal and, therefore, wrong. As Solzhenitsyn put [it], “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” And if that is true, then both East and West, including Western liberalism, have plenty of good and evil to go around.

How might Orthodox Christians better evaluate one of the many liberalisms that make up the water in which we swim in the West today?

To give an example, I would positively recommend to my fellow Orthodox Christians the German ordoliberal school of economic thought for the following reasons: (more…)

scaliaSpeaking on February 14 at a Chicago event celebrating George Washington’s Birthday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s headline remark was his insistence that Chicago-style pizza is “not pizza.” But Scalia focused heavily on the abysmal state of civic education, which not surprisingly, includes law students as well.

Over at the Liberty Law Blog, Josh Blackman, offers some excellent highlights of Scalia’s words from the event. On the relationship between religion and good government, Scalia declared:

Let me make clear that I am not saying that every good American must believe in God. What I am saying, however, is that it is contrary to our founding principles to insist that government be hostile to religion. Or even to insist, as my court, alas, has done, that government cannot favor religion over non-religion.

It is not a matter of believing that God exists, though personally I believe that. It is a matter of believing, as our founders did, that belief in God is very conducive to a successful republic.

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ben carsonIn 2012, Dr. Ben Carson, former head of pediatric surgery at John Hopkins Hospital, rose to media attention at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. During that speech, he told the audience, including President and Mrs. Obama, that he didn’t mean to offend anyone, but he wasn’t going to be “politically correct,” either. Since then, Dr. Carson has been a regular contributor to The Daily Caller. He recently spoke in Sikeston, Missouri, and gave his prescription for what ails America.

Of all that’s ailing America, including the decline of education, Obamacare, politicians run amok, and government spending, the doctor offered various prescriptions. The Founders, [Carson] said, knew that the country relied on an informed populace. We must not be misled by “slick politicians and a dishonest media.” If we will “spend a half hour learning something new every single day … [we] become a formidable friend of truth and a formidable enemy of deception.” (more…)

amnesty_no_compromisePeople face tradeoffs. To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. That principle is one of the most basic in economics — and yet the most frequently ignored when it comes to public policy. A prime example is the tradeoff that is required on two frequently debated political issues: immigration reform and minimum wage laws.

Many of the same people who support increasing the minimum wage also support increased immigration and amnesty for illegal immigrants. But increases in minimum wage can have a severely detrimental impact on immigrants.

(For the sake of argument, we’ll set aside the question of whether amnesty is a policy that should be promoted and assume that is a policy we’d consider beneficial, at least for illegal immigrants.)

Imagine that Congress passes two laws that take effect on the same day — January 1, 2016 — one granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and the other raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. What would be the result?
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Ukrainian priest/monks from Kiev stand between protesters and soldiers during recent protests, acting as peacemakers.

Ukrainian priest/monks from Kiev stand between protesters and soldiers during recent demonstrations, acting as peacemakers.

This weekend on Ancient Faith Radio, host Kevin Allen interviewed Metropolitan Antony, primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States about the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. The bishop offered very good insights into the religious, cultural and political factors at play now in the Ukraine, carefully pointing out that the situation is very fluid and subject to change almost by the hour.

Allen asked the bishop what role the Orthodox and Greek-Catholic churches should play in this crisis going forward.

The Churches have an “enormous” role and indeed a “primary” role, Metropolitan Antony said. He continued:

We have all along, and so have all the churches in Ukraine have called upon those involved to remember the dignity of the human being, to remember the sanctity of life throughout this whole conflict. The Church and the clergy will be required to refrain from participation in any kind of political maneuvering or machinations, and to simply preach the word of God, and preach the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome the difficulties first and then to begin the process of forgiveness, because this is a process that I believe will go on for some time to come. (more…)