europe-muslimBy failing to recognize the importance of religion and its relationship to human rights, says Roger Trigg, European courts are progressively eroding religious liberty:

[T]he Council of Europe affirmed in 2007 that “states must require religious leaders to take an unambiguous stand in favour of the precedence of human rights, as set forth in the European Convention of Human Rights, over any religious principle.”

It is ironic that freedom of religion is expressly protected by the Convention and that the council recognizes this protection, because now the right to manifest one’s religion is highly qualified. In the council’s words, “a religion whose doctrine or practice [runs] counter to other fundamental rights would be unacceptable.”

In Europe, as opposed to the United States, freedom of religion translates to “freedom of religion or belief,” a phrase that covers not just atheism, but “philosophies” like vegetarianism or environmentalism. “Religion,” however defined, is no longer regarded as a unique contribution to the common good.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 5, 2013

Syria’s sorrowing clergy
The Economist

For people concerned about the fate about Syria’s Christian minority, these are dark times. It has now been exactly 100 days since two bishops from the ancient city of Aleppo were kidnapped near the Turkish border, and there is no definite news of their fate.

Seeing What We Want to See: Millennials Look at Government, Capitalism and Religion
Josh Good, Values & Capitalism

Psychological discouragement among younger Americans runs deep. The Silent Generation (ages 66-88) is the only group for whom a majority still thinks they are better off than their parents’ generation.

Privacy and Common Core
Paul Kengor, Crisis Magazine

FERPA is the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Changes have been made to FERPA that (some believe) will leave parents uninformed as to how their children’s records are shared.

Tradition, Business, and Culture
Vincent Bacote, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

A prominent feature of Eastern Orthodoxy is the emphasis on the participation in the liturgy, an experience that can be literally described as a trip to heaven. Those who encounter this liturgy for the first time find it an experience of sensory overload in sound, sight, and smell.

city-journal-hirschOne of the core principles of the Acton Institute is commitment to wealth creation since material impoverishment undermines the conditions that allow humans to flourish. We consider helping our fellow citizens to escape material deprivation to be one of the most morally significant economic concerns of our age. But how to do we gauge whether our neighbors are able to improve their economic security? A key metric that is often used is income or social mobility, the ability of an individual to improve their economic status over time.

Last month I noted a study that highlighted four broad factors that appear to affect income mobility:

1. The size and dispersion of the local middle class,
2. Two-parent households,
3. Better elementary schools and high schools, and
4. Civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

Saying that schools should be “better” is unhelpfully vague. But a recent article in City Journal by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., explains just what qualitative factor is most important: The key to increasing upward mobility is expanding vocabulary.

Hirsch’s article is one of the most important essays on education published this year — perhaps even of the decade. I highly encourage you to read the entire feature. But if you only have time for a bullet-point presentation, here are ten key facts and recommendations from Hirsch’s brilliant article:


Blog author: jcarter
Friday, August 2, 2013

Saudi activist receives 7-year sentence, 600 lashes for insulting Islam
Ed Payne and Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN

A Saudi court has sentenced a activist to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for violating the nation’s anti-cybercrime law, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday.

An Environmental Conservatism?
Peter Blair, Public Discourse

Roger Scruton argues that conservatism is a better home for good environmental policy than liberalism.

Yes, Threats to Religious Liberty Happen Here
Ryan T. Anderson, National Review

Advocates of same-sex marriage are classifying Biblical teachings as “hate speech.”

Conservative Catholics and the New Pope
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Why it might actually be good for conservative Catholics in America to have a pope who makes them a little more uncomfortable, and (what’s left of) the American church’s liberal wing a little more enthusiastic, than either John Paul II or Benedict did.

foodieFood has been an essential part of Christian culture since Jesus shared a last meal with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. So it’s not surprising that Christians — especially young Christians in urban areas — are the epicurean hobby culture of “foodies.” But as Erik Bonkovsky, a pastor in Richmond, Virginia, says, a truly great and thoroughly Christian food scene is one that blesses the privileged and under-privileged alike:

Foodie culture—particularly with a local and healthy dimension—is now ubiquitous in every major city. Farmers markets, local-sourced menus, and farm-to-table operations have proliferated. However, many of these increased food options are limited to the well-resourced. ‘Foodie culture’ has become one more way to cultivate a lifestyle-based identity. One wonders, “If I cook local-grazed free-range pork without posting it on Instagram, did I really eat it?”

[. . .]


Ever since the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that requiring most employers to cover birth control, abortificients and abortions as part of employee health care coverage, there has been a firestorm of attention pill in handfocused on the mandate. Both secular and religious employers have fought the order, stating that it violates their moral and/or religious principles to pay for these things, which many do not believe fall into the category of “health care.” (See Acton PowerBlog posts here, here, and here.)

Today, August 1, was the date the mandate was to go into effect. However, HHS has given a “stay” for religious non-profits until January 2014. That isn’t good enough for the group “Women Speak For Themselves” (WSFT), founded by Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University. In today’s Washington Post, Alvaré and Meg T. McDonnell give 5 reasons why women care about this mandate. She says, in the words of one of the organization’s members that these women “don’t want anyone buying the phony message the government is selling…that ‘women care more about free birth control than freedom of religion.'” WSFT backed up their convictions by protesting today in Lafayette Park across from the White House. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, August 1, 2013

nature_1The central thesis of philosopher Roger Scruton case for an environmental conservatism, says Leah Kostamo, is that the primary motivation for care for the earth is oikophilia—a love of home.

Oikophilia, Scruton argues, is what emboldens people to make sacrifices for their surrounding environment and neighbour. Scruton spends many pages tracing the history of oikophilia, particularly in his native Britain, and howoikophilia has been destroyed by internationalism and big-government subsidies and regulations.

[. . .]