Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 18, 2015
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The Plight of the Middle East’s Christians
Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal

Ancient communities in Syria and Iraq are in mortal peril. Can the West find a way to preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East—and stave off a ‘clash of civilizations’?

Religious Freedom and Sexual Identity: A Proposal for Peace
Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

If law can declare certain reasons for a private business owner to refuse service—such as sexual orientation—invalid, then it can also designate other reasons as valid—such as religious convictions about the nature of marriage.

How Should Christians Think About Management?
Matt Perman, What’s Best Next

Christians should care about whether the organizations they work in are managed well and, if they are managers themselves, they should manage well. This is first of all because, as Patrick Lencioni points out, management is a form of ministry

Oklahoma House OKs resolution to reaffirm religious freedom
Associated Press

The Oklahoma House has passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to reaffirm the nation’s commitments to protecting religious freedom and condemning the deaths of Christians around the world.

least_of_theseThere are a lot of phrases that people assume are in the Bible that are not only not in the text but may not even be biblical (cleanliness is next to godliness, God helps those who help themselves, etc.). There are also a number of biblical ideas that are in the Bible but are attributed to the wrong passage.

A common example is use of the biblical phrase “least of these” (Matt. 25:40, 46) to refer to our fellow citizens who are in poverty or in need. The Bible has a lot to say about poverty—but this phrase is not necessarily talking about the poor. As Denny Burk explains, this is a classic case of right doctrine, wrong text:
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senior-prom-gameIt’s prom season, the time of year when plenty of high school kids eagerly anticipate an invitation to the year’s biggest formal event. It’s no different for the member organizations of religious shareholder activist groups As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Both groups have their tuxedos pressed and dresses tailored for this summer’s highly anticipated climate encyclical from Pope Francis, the progressive left’s version of netting either Kate Upton or Ryan Gosling as prom dates.

In the meantime, ICCR and AYS – who, quite frankly, don’t seem to really care what Pope Francis or any of his predecessors have to say about any topic unless it fits progressive dogma – continue their crusade against fossil fuels while they await the Pope’s invitation to the big dance.

It seems both groups wish to hobble corporations in the name of global warming. Just last month, for example, ICCR released its latest paper, “Invested in Change: Faith-Consistent Investing in a Climate-Challenged World.” From the document’s Executive Summary: (more…)

32045208“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

That line was written in 1906 by Evelyn Beatrice Hall to describe Voltaire’s attitude towards a fellow rival French philosopher. For the next hundred years that line was often quoted to express a particularly American ideal of toleration and the importance of free speech.

But something changed over the past few decades. Certain offensive speech has been deemed not only utterly indefensible, but excludable from First Amendment protections. A prime example was found on Twitter a few days ago when Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor, law school graduate, and son of the New York governor, wrote that “hate speech is excluded from protection.”

That claim, of course, is nonsense. As legal scholar Eugene Volokh says, “Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.”

There are forms of unprotected speech, Volokh notes, but it has nothing to do with “hate speech”:
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weeping statueIf one decides to destroy the American Dream, there are a few steps that would be necessary.

  1. Put Big Government in charge. The average American can’t figure out his or her own dreams, let alone what it would take to make them a reality.
  2. Tell Americans that without the government, the American Dream is hopeless.
  3. Produce a lengthy document about the American Dream. Leave out the word “freedom,” let alone the idea of freedom.
  4. Let people know that “freedom” (without actually using the word) is quite harmful. Don’t worry, thought, Big Government will protect you.

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In a new video from Made to Flourish, Tim Keller offers practical guidance to ministers and churches on how they can better disciple their people when it comes to work and stewardship:

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 15, 2015
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Texas Senate OKs bill allowing clergy to refuse gay marriage
Will Weissert, Associated Press

The Texas Senate voted overwhelmingly on Monday to allow clergy members to refuse performing marriages that violate their religious beliefs, as top Republicans move to further shield the nation’s largest conservative state from a possible US Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.

Push to End Prison Rapes Loses Earlier Momentum
Deborah Sontag, New York Times

With May 15 marking the second annual reporting deadline, advocates for inmates and half of the members of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, a bipartisan group charged with drafting the standards, say the plodding pace of change has disheartened them despite pockets of progress.

Modest Conscience Protections in Louisiana Elicit Hysteria
Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

The Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act is timely, necessary, and well-justified. If passed, it will help preserve the State of Louisiana’s commitment to freedoms of conscience, religion, and expression.

Can Economists Measure Society’s Self-Absorption?
Marc Bain, The Atlantic

Though it’s hard to define and record, the amount of money spent worldwide on vanity purchases is larger than the GDP of Germany, and it’s growing much faster than other markets.

poor-working-class-family-after-the-days-workCapitalism is routinely blamed for rampant materialism and consumerism, accused of setting society’s sights only on material needs and wants, and living little time, attention, or energy for much else. But what, if not basic food, shelter, and survival, was humanity so preoccupied with before the Industrial Revolution?

As Steve Horwitz argues in a preview of his forthcoming book, Hayek’s Modern Family, our newfound liberty and accelerated activity in the Economy of Creative Service has actually freed us to devote more to other spheres of stewardship, not less:
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Prof. Harry Veryser stars in a new video from ISI that explores some of the lessons about private property, rights, responsibilities, and stewardship that can be gleaned from the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

For a much more in-depth exposition of the connections between and lessons from Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, check out John Mueller’s Redeeming Economics (ISI, 2010). For more, check out a slate of review essays on Mueller’s book published in Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology, including a piece by me, “The Economies of Divine and Human Love.”

lexrexFor much of human history, the dominant legal principle was rex lex—“the king is law.” In the 1600s, though, that view was subverted, mostly by Christian thinkers like Samuel Rutherford, who claimed lex rex—“the law is king.” Since then most Western governments have adopted the principle of that the rule of law, rather than the arbitrary diktats of government officials, should govern a nation.

Increasingly, though, the principle of rule of law is being replaced, as Bruce Frohnen says, by “rule by law.” The idea is that since the final power to decide must reside somewhere, whoever has that ability to decide is sovereign (a prime example is the concept of “judicial supremacy”). This shift from rule of law to rule by law (or rule by quasi-law) has profound effects on both our freedom and the legitimacy of the law itself:

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