Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, June 7, 2012

Over at Commentary Magazine, Jonathan S. Tobin remarks on the double standards liberals have about allowing politicians to promote political positions from the pulpits of churches and synagogues:

[A]llowing a religious event to become the venue for partisan politics is always asking for trouble. No one is saying, or ought to say, that synagogue buildings can’t be used for debates or forums in which politics is discussed. But there is a big difference between a Sunday morning bagel breakfast to which politicians are invited and what ought to be a purely religious event.

Far too often in this country we have seen inner city churches used as launching points for Democratic campaigns or evangelical churches employed for the same purpose by conservatives and Republicans. The willingness of some liberal Jews to use Reform institutions such as Miami’s Temple Israel in the same way is regrettable. Rather than being the rallying cry for those who wish to impose more partisan politics on helpless congregants, it should serve as a warning to all religious institutions to stay away from politicians while they are running for office and seeking to exploit them.

To this I give a hearty, but qualified, Amen. Rather than seeking “equal time” I believe that conservatives should stand for keeping partisan politics out of the pulpit. Particular social and moral issues are fair game, of course. But those should be presented by the preacher, not a politician.

In this week’s commentary, I take a look at Calvin Coolidge and his views on government. Coolidge is important today for many reasons. Chiefly, he’s a striking contrast to our current culture of government and the bloated state.

Coolidge was sandwiched in between the progressive era and the rise of the New Dealers. And in his era of leadership, tyrannical leaders who preached the supremacy of the state rose to power abroad. Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini in Italy are two examples. Coolidge preached limited government and saw himself as a civic educator who wanted to remind America of its founding freedom.

In watching what just transpired with the recall election in Wisconsin and the debate over public sector unions, there is again a connection to Coolidge. His rise to national prominence came as governor of Massachusetts when he took on a public union. Coolidge’s firm stand against the Boston Police Strike of 1919 later led him to reflect saying, “The people will respond to the truth.” Coolidge famously declared during the strike that, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” Ronald Reagan would find inspiration from Coolidge’s hardline when he terminated the striking air traffic controllers in 1981 as president.

I have enjoyed reading through the speeches and biographies of Coolidge. I have read a lot of original sources such as Have Faith in Massachusetts, which is a collection of messages and speeches delivered by Coolidge during his political career in the Bay State. After reading through that, you get a picture of the depth of his conservative thought and how he was able to articulate it so well to the citizenry.

His most brilliant speech which is really a denunciation of the progressive era and a triumphant praise of America’s Founding is his remarkable address on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. If you don’t read anything else by Coolidge, that speech is a must read. Finally, keep the forthcoming Coolidge biography by Amity Shlaes on your radar.

A ‘Stand Up For Religious Freedom’ Rally, organized by a coalition of religious, non-profit, pro-life and pro-family organizations and individuals is scheduled for Friday, June 8, at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Rev. Robert Sirico is a featured speaker.

This public event, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST, is described as “…a peaceful protest to stand up for our religious beliefs and our 1st Amendment Freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.” Other speakers include former Congressman Peter Hoekstra and President/Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center Richard Thompson. Besides the featured speakers, there will be on-site voter registration, information tables from participating groups and a student poster contest.

One of the topics expected to be addressed is the Obamacare HHS mandate and its effects on religious organizations’ health care coverage for workers.

See more from Acton on the Obamacare mandate here.

“It’s helpful to look at the track record of this bipartisan idea that government is smarter and better at picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan at a recent hearing on efforts to combat cronyism and promote upward mobility. “What we have learned from this bipartisan approach is that corruption does occur, cronyism does occur, and what ends up happening is those who are connected, those who have established connections, those who know the ways of Washington end up usually getting the benefits.”

Blog author: Mindy Hirst
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The team is growing as I write this. People from the On Call in Culture Community have taken the challenge to begin checking in with how they are being On Call in Culture on an everyday basis. You too can be a part of the encouraging and motivating exercise of checking in. By letting others know what God is doing through you and your work, you can encourage others, stay focused and be more aware of how God is working all around you.

You can take the challenge too and join the On Call in Culture Check In Team!

Each week at different times, you will receive an email asking you a simple question:

“How are you being On Call in Culture for Christ today?”

The challenge is to check in right then with the On Call in Culture community on Facebook and/or Twitter. You could be doing research, writing a report or even taking a break. Whatever it is, we’re excited to hear how God is using what you’re doing during everyday moments in your life to bring grace to the world around you!

Socialism, despite its deficiencies, still has its fans. “Visit the philosophy and English departments on most college campuses, and you will still find intellectuals waxing eloquent on the glories of socialist theory. Students are still encouraged to imagine that it could work,” says Fr. Robert Sirico, in Crisis Magazine.

However, Pope Benedict XVI is not one taken in by the great lie of socialism:

History is strewn with intellectuals who imagined that they could save the world–and created hell on earth as a result. The pope counts the socialists among them, and Karl Marx in particular. Here was an intellectual who imagined that salvation could occur without God, and that something approximating the Kingdom of God on earth could be created by adjusting the material conditions of man.

History, in Marx’s view, was nothing but the crashes and grinding of these material forces. There was no such thing as a fixed human nature. There was certainly no God who is the author of history. There are no permanent themes that follow along moral lines. Rather, we are all merely pushed around by large and impersonal forces. But it is possible to wrest these forces within our control, to our advantage, provided we take the right steps.

Socialism has failed because it fails to understand human nature.

Read the full article here.

David Harsanyi of Human Events has shared a couple of videos of Rev. Robert Sirico discussing “Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand, Jane Fonda, Obamacare and the — sometimes unseen — morality of free markets.” He also touches on the core principles of his new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.

Part 1


Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico’s Research on Religion podcast went live today. In it, Rev. Sirico sits down with host Tony Gill to discuss his new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for Capitalism, and a range of other topics, including the morality of capitalism, faith-based initiatives, and Austrian economics. The podcast is available to listen to or download online and regularly offers fresh perspective on relevant topics. Today’s is no exception. Check it out.

If inalienable rights are, as many people seem to believe, rights which the government cannot take away, does it follow that government can then take away rights that are alienable?

As James Rogers explains, it is no less wrong for the government to take away an “alienable” right than it is for the government to take away an “inalienable” right. The difference between the two isn’t that one can be taken away while the other cannot but that an inalienable right cannot be given away by the person who has it:

The Declaration borrows the word from property law. An “alienable” right over property means that the property can be sold or given away by the owner. Property that is “inalienable” cannot be transferred by the owner. The dramatic backdrop in several of Jane Austen’s novels, notably including Pride and Prejudice, comes from property that is inalienable. The estate in the story has been “entailed” to the first-born male of each generation. While Mr. Bennett has use of the property during his lifetime, because he has no son, the property will go automatically to Mr. Collins on his death. Mr. Bennett cannot sell the land permanently (although he can rent the land out during his lifetime), and he cannot give it away to his wife, daughters, or to anyone else. Ownership of the estate in inalienable; this inalienability limits what Mr. Bennett can do with the estate.

Rogers goes on to make the important point that there are certain rights that individuals aren’t free to give away because, according to Jesus and John Locke, we are owned by God and not self-owned beings. Read the rest of Rogers excellent essay here.

Professor Hunter Baker recently appeared on the Research on Religion podcast to discuss, among other things, his latest book, The End of Secularism. Baker’s book, like much of the podcast’s discussion, centers on the treatment of religious matters within the public square. In doing so, the podcast covers a broad range of relevant topics and is worth a listen.

Baker is an associate professor of political science and the associate dean of Arts & Sciences at Union University. In recognition of his work there and his authorship of The End of Secularism, Baker was named the 2011 recipient of The Acton Institute’s Novak Award for new and outstanding scholarship relating to Acton’s mission.