Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
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“Extreme Religious Liberty Rights”
Mark Barrett, First Things

Terming the protections of RFRA as “extreme religious liberty rights,” the Foundation and associated groups go beyond even what the Obama administration requests, asserting not only that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood don’t qualify for the law’s protections, but rather that RFRA itself is unconstitutional.

An Economic Lesson from the Sermon on the Mount
Brian Baugus, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

One of the most important lessons in the Sermon of the Mount deals with keeping one’s word in agreements and contracts.

Reason and Revelation: Why Christians Need Philosophy
Sherif Girgis, Public Discourse

Many Christians question the value of philosophical arguments for conjugal marriage, preferring to appeal to revelation. But our natural moral knowledge in some ways precedes revelation and helps us to understand it.

Mississippi Most Religious State, Vermont Least Religious
Frank Newport, Gallup

Religiousness across the U.S. in 2013 remained similar to previous years. With 61% of its residents classified as very religious, Mississippi held on to its position as the most religious state, while Vermont, with 22% very religious residents, remained the least religious.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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povertycureCan the current model of humanitarian aid generated by networks of large philanthropic foundations, NGOs, and Western governments actually alleviate global poverty? The latest Liberty Law Talk podcast asks Acton’s Michael Miller, director of the new Poverty Cure Initiative, to address that question and to explain what conditions can lead to prosperity:

As Miller discusses, the prevalent humanitarian aid model frequently uproots the very beginnings of the circles of exchange that must exist for wealth to be created in these societies. Frequently missing as well in the current approach is understanding how crucial the rule of law, property rights, and markets are in the uplift from poverty, and that frequently, these economic and legal orderings are absent in regions of hardship. Consequently, the conditions for human flourishing don’t exist and cannot be created by large philanthropic interventions, which everywhere substitute parental relationships between the donor and recipient in the place of real human flourishing in these communities.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

1381251187-miller_storylineWhen it comes to theology of work, the church has enjoyed a healthy season of self-critique and introspection. Sermons, books, and seminars abound. Dead theologians and forgotten works are routinely remembered and resurrected, challenging a host of our modern assumptions about wealth, exchange, and the nature of work itself.

We have, as one commonly hears it, begun the process of tearing down the “divides” between Sunday-morning spirituality and grindstone temporality.

In line with such a development, bestselling author Donald Miller recently shared his own work experiences, which include plenty of transcendent purpose and edification. For Miller, however, such a worshipful encounter is offered as support for why he needn’t attend “traditional worship service”:

I learn by doing the very thing I don’t learn by hearing! My guess is because teaching is a kinesthetic discipline rather than an auditory discipline. But that’s a side note. Here’s the real question: How do I find intimacy with God if not through a traditional church model?

The answer came to me recently and it was a freeing revelation. I connect with God by working. I literally feel an intimacy with God when I build my company. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe God gave me my mission and my team and I feel closest to him when I’ve got my hand on the plow. It’s thrilling and I couldn’t be more grateful he’s given me an outlet through which I can both serve and connect with him… (more…)

Blog author: dpahman
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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Today at Ethika Politika, I reflect on what it might look like to adopt thanksgiving as one’s orientation toward human experience and society:

We may think of gratitude … as an appreciation of the joy that uniquely comes from what is virtuous and the recognition of “what God has done or is doing.” Now we have a hermeneutic for our experience, grounded in the God-given “‘eucharistic’ function of man,” to borrow from Fr. Alexander Schmemann. It is not enough to simply appreciate what is given. One must submit what is given to the standard of the Good, be thankful for it to the extent that it measures up, and be critical of it to the extent that it does not. The goal is ultimately transformative: In thanksgiving we offer up to God the good things he has given to us and receive them back transfigured by his grace.

In the ancient Church, one of the common charges early Christians brought against Gnostics, who denied that the God they worshiped was the Creator of the world, was that they were being ungrateful. Whoever our Creator is, they reasoned, we owe him a great deal of gratitude. Thus, in this way they recommended a eucharistic worldview. (more…)

rewrittenimageWith everything from the HHS mandate to Duck Dynasty to Sister Wives, there is much in the news regarding religious liberty. What are we to make of it? Is religious liberty simply being tolerant of others’ religious choices?

Michael Therrien, at First Things, wants to clear up the discussion, from the Catholic point of view. He starts by looking at an article quoting Camille Paglia, atheist, lesbian and university professor. In it, Paglia rushes to the defense of Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty star, and his rather crass defense of conjugal marriage. Paglia states that Robertson was wrongly treated by the press and A&E, which owns the rights to Duck Dynasty. (more…)

In a new video from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Green Family, owners of the embattled retail chain, Hobby Lobby, discusses the religious foundation of their business and the threat the federal government now poses to those who share their beliefs.

“What’s at stake here is whether you’re able to keep your religious freedom when you open a family business,” says Lori Windham, Senior Council at The Becket Fund, “whether you can continue to live out your faith in the way that you live every aspect of your life.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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Charter High Schools Increase Earnings and Educational Achievement
Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

Private and charter schools appear to have significant but modest effects on test scores but much larger effects on educational attainment and even on long-run earnings

Reason and Revelation: Why Christians Need Philosophy
Sherif Girgis, Public Discourse

Many Christians question the value of philosophical arguments for conjugal marriage, preferring to appeal to revelation. But our natural moral knowledge in some ways precedes revelation and helps us to understand it.

The Gains from Getting Rid of “Run Amok” Occupational Licensing
David Henderson, Econlog

If licensing causes pay to be about 14 percent higher, how would it do that? I think almost any economist, including the authors, would answer that it does so by restricting entry into those licensed occupations. Indeed, the authors state.

Why Religious Freedom Matters for Our Work
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Today we fight another battle for freedom – religious freedom. Only this one isn’t on the fields of Stirling Bridge; it’s in the halls of the United States Supreme Court. But like the Battle of Stirling Bridge, this debate has implications for all of our lives – including the way we understand our work as a religious activity.