Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Pope Francis is famous for his strident denunciations of a “throwaway culture” that ruthlessly discards human beings not considered useful in an economy that ‘kills’,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. But has the pope accurately identified the real cause of the problem?

My concerns were only heightened by the secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials blithely discussing buying and selling the body parts of aborted babies. Part of me is nervously awaiting the pope to denounce capitalism for this social evil as well. In fact, there are U.S. federal laws prohibiting profit-making in this type of commerce and Planned Parenthood itself denies making any money from it. (Even abortionists recognize the evil of profits!) But another part of me questions whether it’s the quest for profits that drives the abortion industry to not only perform but brazenly justify its barbaric practices.

Let me restate the problem this way: Assuming Planned Parenthood is telling the truth that it makes no profit in the buying and selling of fetal body parts, would that make the “crushing” and “crunching” of babies acceptable? Would it be ok to abort babies out of “humanitarian” or “compassionate” rather than “self-interested” motives? Are government-subsidized abortions somehow less gruesome than private-sector ones?

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

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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Should Christians Lie to End Abortion?
Ray Nothstine, Christian Post

Is it ethical for Christians to deceive with undercover videos to further their goals of exposing the immoral behavior of Planned Parenthood and ending abortion?

Troubling Signs of Minimum Wage Damage in Los Angeles
Adam Ozimek, Dismal Scientist

Disagreement in the literature on minimum wages illustrates that different comparisons or controls can easily give different answers. However, as I’ve been watching the data, one case is becoming too stark to ignore: Los Angeles.

Critics petition Obama to abolish faith-based hiring bias
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Concerned that faith-based groups can discriminate in hiring while receiving federal funds, a coalition of 130 organizations told President Obama the policy will tarnish his legacy of fair and equal treatment for all Americans.

Media Ignores New Orleans Success Because It’s Good News on Charters
Richard Whitmire, The Seventy Four

Just for a moment, suppose that convincing evidence emerged from an unimpeachable source showing that one city in the U.S. had dramatically improved its schools for poor and minority students – a feat that has eluded nearly every other city in the country. That would be major national news, right? At the very least worthy of a blurb. A tweet?

income-inequalityIncome inequality and poverty are separate issues. For many people this is obvious. But there are numerous Christians who believe that income inequality is an important issue because they assume it is a proxy for poverty. If this were true, Christians would indeed need to be concerned about income inequality because concern about poverty is a foundational principle of any Christian view of economics.

Fortunately, there is neither a necessary connection nor correlation. A country could have absolutely no poverty at all and have extremely high-income inequality. The reason is because income inequality (measured by the Gini coefficient), measures relative, not absolute, income.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Harry Frankfurt, a philosopher who has written a book on inequality, has a guest post at Forbes in which he makes the same point: income inequality and poverty aren’t the same thing.

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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
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Climate change has become the one thing all religions are preaching against
Nayantara Narayanan, Scroll.in

When Pope Francis chose to champion the battle against climate change via papal encyclical in June this year, the act was lauded as the one that could galvanise the world community far more than 30 years of pleading by climate scientists. Now Muslim leaders across the world have echoed the moral call against climate change with their Islamic Climate Declaration issued last week calling for a fossil-fuel phase-out.

The Pope and air conditioning?
Rev. Mark H. Creech, RenewAmerica

I can only imagine how Catholics in the various hotter climates of the world are going to react when they finally get the news their Pope thinks air conditioning is something they ought to forgo in life. Ahhhhh, I don’t think so. As someone once said, “It’s so hot in some parts of the world the inhabitants there have to live somewhere else.” As a college buddy of mine studying missions in tropical countries used to say, “Its hotter there than an ant’s butt on a radiator.”

The Pope as illegal immigrant?
Gene Veith, Patheos

The Pope decided not to because if he visited Mexico, he would have to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and he didn’t time this visit. But Catholic opponents of illegal immigration, including the Catholic Republican presidential contenders (Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki) can expect to feel pressure from the pontiff, as they will also on climate change.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
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Meeting God as an American
David Paul Deavel, Library of Law and Liberty

“When I meet God,” wrote Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), “I expect to meet him as an American. Not most importantly as an American, to be sure, but as someone who tried to take seriously, and tried to get others to take seriously, the story of America within the story of the world.”

Should Military Chaplains Be Forced to Conduct Same-Sex Weddings?
Greg Davis, The Daily Signal

Last month, the United States Army celebrated the 240th anniversary of the Army Chaplain Corps. Amidst the celebrations there was also concern: there seems to be a growing threat to religious liberty for military chaplains.

More troubling signs of minimum wage damage on the West Coast, Part II
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas

As predicted by economic theory and supported by much of the empirical evidence, minimum wage increases this year in Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco are having their expected effect: fewer jobs for hotel workers in Los Angeles and fewer jobs for restaurant workers in Seattle and San Francisco.

The Good City and the Good Citizen
Berny Belvedere, Front Porch Republic

The well-ordered soul is like the well-ordered city — apart from this organizational excellence, human flourishing, whether individually or communally, is just not possible.

Bee coloniesThe so-called bee controversy is gaining traction, claiming another company that has promised shareholders it will stop selling neonicotinoid pesticides (pesticides also known as neonics, which they incorrectly blame for colony collapse disorder). Green America announced last weekend it has secured a promise from Lowe’s Companies, Inc., to “phase out neonics and plants pre-treated with them by the spring of 2019 (or sooner, if possible). It is also working with suppliers to minimize pesticide use overall and move to safer alternatives.”

Why is Lowe’s capitulating to an agenda that has no credible scientific basis? (more…)

What is the difference between paying a tax and donating to a charity? Is it moral to force others to give to the cause of your choice? Is it moral for the government to force others to give to the cause of your choice?

Rob Gressis, a professor of philosophy, went on campus at California State University – Northridge, to ask students those questions.

You can see an extended version of the video here.

Blog author: bwalker
Monday, August 24, 2015
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A new poll on climate change
National Center for Science Education

A new poll on public attitudes toward Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change included questions on the occurrence of climate change itself. Asked “Do you think that global warming is happening, or do you think global warming is not happening?” 69% of respondents said yes, 16% said no, 15% said that they were not sure, and 1% skipped or refused to answer the question.

Faith Digest, Aug. 22, 2015: Forum to focus on Pope’s Encyclical
Santa Cruz Sentinel

The free event, hosted by the Progressive Christian Forum of Santa Cruz in association with Resurrection Church, is slated for the week after Pope Francis’ address to a Joint Session of Congress, will give the larger Santa Cruz community an opportunity to reflect on the message of the pope’s recent Encyclical about environmental issues as well as his visit to the United States.

Tennessee Catholic high school teachers eager to dive into the papal encyclical
Theresa Laurence, Crux

Father Ryan High School theology teacher Brent Fernandez grows a garden at home, raises chickens, and rides his bicycle to school when he can…. On the June morning when Pope Francis released his encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Fernandez “was like a teenager on the day their favorite band drops a new album.” He pored over it, immediately connecting with so much of what Pope Francis wrote about, formulating how he would incorporate the encyclical into his junior-level Catholic social teaching class at Father Ryan.

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missionary1Over the past 500 years, some countries have proven to be more receptive to democracy than others. What accounts for the disparity? What causes some countries to be more likely to embrace democratic forms of governance?

As empirical evidence shows, one strong predictor is the presence of Protestant missionaries.

“Protestant missionaries played an integral role in spreading democracy throughout the world,” says Greg Scandlen. “We could preserve our own if we learn from their ways.”
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Last week, the Washington Post featured an interview with Donald Trump, entrepreneur-turned-presidential candidate. Trump is clearly no fan of the pope’s comments on capitalism and free markets, and his approach to dealing with the pope on this topic is rather unique: Trump wants to scare Pope Francis.
trump cnn

It’s common for some to criticize Pope Francis’s wariness about capitalism, but Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just took that to a new level, saying he’d try to “scare” the pope by telling him: “ISIS wants to get you.

I’d say ISIS wants to get you,” Trump said. “You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican? You have heard that. You know, that’s a dream of theirs, to go into Italy.

I’m gonna have to scare the Pope because it’s the only thing, Trump said. The Pope, I hope, can only be scared by God. But the truth is — you know, if you look at what’s going on — they better hope that capitalism works, because it’s the only thing we have right now. And it’s a great thing when it works properly.”

The Rev. Robert Sirico, who has voiced his own concerns regarding the pope’s economic views, clearly was not impressed with Trump’s views on how to deal with the views of “the people’s pope.” (more…)