Boy-Scouts-of-AmericaCalifornia lawmakers are moving close to a final vote on a bill that could threaten the tax-exempt status of a variety of groups — ranging from the Boy Scouts to Little League — if their membership policies are found to differentiate on “gender identity,” “sexual orientation,” and other bases. As Alliance Defending Freedom explains, the proposed legislation also threatens religious liberties:

SB 323, which bans discrimination based on “religion” and “religious affiliation,” and which contains no exemption from these bans for religious organizations, would strip religious youth organizations of d1cir tax-exempt status if they continued to select leaders and other persons responsible for carrying out their missions based on a shared set of religious beliefs.

Like SB 323’s ban on religious discrimination, its ban on sexual orientation discrimination, which is designed to punish BSA over its membership and leadership policy, will also severely and negatively impact religious organizations. Most religious organizations, undoubtedly including many covered by SB 323, require their leaders and members to express and conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with their religious beliefs regarding sexual conduct. Under these types of policies, individuals who approve of or engage in conduct that contradicts a group’s religious teaching regarding sexual morality may be denied membership or leadership positions. Such policies likely conflict with SB 323. Thus, if passed, the bill will require religious organizations to choose between complying with the law and abandoning their religious convictions, or defying the law and losing their tax exemptions.

Religious organizations that select members and leaders who share their religious convictions to maintain a coherent religious identity and message are not engaging in invidious discrimination. Rather, they arc engaging in d1e most basic and fundamental exercise of religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Read more . . .

(Via: The Foundry)

In a new article at Intercollegiate Review, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg looks at the current state of “idea conservatives” and their place in the broader context of American conservative thought encompassing an amazing diversity of ideological subspecies. But it is ideas and core principles, more than anything else, that informs conservatism and its various movements, despite the many fractures and fissures. Gregg makes a compelling case for rooting “conservatism’s long-term agenda” in the “defense and promotion of what we should unapologetically call Western civilization.” His article is the first contribution to ISI’s symposium, “Conservatism: What’s Wrong with it and How Can We Make it Right?” Excerpt from the Gregg article:

… as the French theologian Jean Daniélou S.J. once observed, there is no true civilization that is not also religious. In the case of Western civilization, that means Judaism and Christianity. The question of religious truth is something with which we must allow every person to wrestle in the depths of their conscience. But if conservatism involves upholding the heritage of the West against those who would tear it down (whether from without and within), then conservatives should follow the lead of European intellectuals such as Rémi Brague and Joseph Ratzinger and invest far more energy in elucidating Christianity’s pivotal role in the West’s development—including the often complicated ways in which it responded to, and continues to interact, with the movements associated with the various Enlightenments.

Such an enterprise goes beyond demonstrating Christianity’s contribution to institutional frameworks such as constitutional government. Conservatives must be more attentive to how Judaism and Christianity—or at least their orthodox versions—helped foster key ideas that underlie the distinctiveness of Western culture. These include: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 9, 2013
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Should We Be Taxing Churches?
Thomas Holgrave, The Hipster Conservative

In this country, churches are only one type of a wide range of different kinds of non-profit institutions favored with tax-exempt status.

What Is The Harmful Side of Regulation?
Brian Baugus, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Being sinful, flawed, and limited creatures, we regularly take a God-given idea and distort it to our own purposes, often at the expense of others. How might regulations be misused?

Faith, Liberty, and the “Price of Citizenship”
Seth Mandel, Commentary

Challenging the ruling doesn’t necessitate a belief that private businesses are not subject to anti-discrimination laws. But the ruling suggests that the owners of Elane Photography’s Christian beliefs are now classified as discriminatory under the state’s human-rights laws, threatening to put church and state in open–and open-ended–conflict.

A Question for Progressive Christians on Religious Liberty
Derek Rishmawy, Reformedish

Is resisting Empire only about economic and military issues, or can it be about social and moral issues as well?

Progressive-ObamaGiven the current slate of policy proposals that are popular today across the country, one could argue the Democratic Party could rename itself the “Progressive Democratic Party.” From the policies and public rhetoric of leaders in the Obama administration to New York mayorial candidate Bill de Blasio, we can see that progressivism is back in a new way.

According to the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, a university-chartered research center associated with the Department of History of The George Washington University, progressivism is a term applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems that rapid industrialization introduced to America spanning from around 1890 to 1920. Progressivism began primarily as a social movement but later morphed into public policy initiatives and even into a political party in 1912. The early progressives rejected Social Darwinism, believing that “the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated, and believed that government could be a tool for change.”

Does this sound familiar? President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was not so much a platform for “liberals” as it was an introduction to America’s neo-progressivism. Today’s neo-progressivism has the same views of the role of elites to govern society, the role of government to run economies with a twist on social agendas, and so on. There are differences, however. The progressivism of old was explicitly racist at times and supported programs like eugenics to rid America of those who might impede national progress. In fact, Margaret Sanger helped to launch and systematize abortion as a progressivist weapon to that end. While the eugenicist abortion platform has been recast as a “women’s health” issue, today’s neo-progressivism comes with the consecration of minority groups as sacred and therefore justifies the use of government to guarantee them various special rights, protections, and privileges under the law. In the neo-progressivist era, every minority group deserves to have their lifestyles and choices enhanced and protected by the state.

U.S. History.org explains the development of progressivism this way:

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Blog author: ehilton
Friday, September 6, 2013
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Is a company “Christian” because it sells Christian products, like Bibles and greeting cards with Scripture verses on them? Is a company Christian because its owners says it is? in god we trustWhat makes a company “Christian” and do we need them?

This is the question posed at by Hugh Whelchel at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics. He points out that many well-known American businesses proclaim that they are Christian: Hobby Lobby, Chik-Fil-A and Forever 21, for instance, even though none of them specialize in specifically Christian items or consumers. Now, Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays, specifically so its employees are free to worship and rest that day, clearly stemming from the owners Christian beliefs. Is that what it takes to be a “Christian” company? (more…)

Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe has made a career out of elevating down-and-dirty labor, constantly reminding us to never take for granted the hands of those who keep society moving. The show was recently cancelled, but Rowe continues to spread his message, most recently in the cover story of the latest issue of Guideposts magazine (HT).

The article is a moving tribute to Rowe’s grandfather (“Pop”), who was skilled at a variety of trades, from electric work to plumbing to welding to carpentry. “He could do pretty much anything,” Rowe writes.

Rowe would tag along with his grandfather on various projects, watching him work and repair things with ease. “Pop was a magician, and his talents a great mystery,” Rowe writes. “As his would-be apprentice, I mimicked his every move.”

Yet without Pop’s “mechanical gene,” Rowe often felt inadequate and incapable. After one Saturday spent building a patio, he let his frustration show: (more…)

food_desert_1As politicians continue their surrogate decision-making in the lives of the underclass, Washington, D.C. city politics remain a laboratory for repeated public policy failures. The Washington, D.C. city council recently approved a measure that would create a living wage for workers in the city who are employed by large retailers. Sometimes, you have to wonder if the city’s leaders have considered the long-term consequences of decisions like this. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray took about a week to decide whether to veto or sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act, according to the Washington Times. The newspaper explains what the city is up to:

Part of the Gray administration’s five-year plan to boost the number of jobs in the city includes creating a “retail-friendly environment” in the District. But retailers have argued that the bill the mayor is considering unfairly targets certain employers — specifically those without union labor that occupy in excess of 75,000 square feet and whose parent companies gross $1 billion or more.

It would force those retailers to provide pay and benefits worth $12.50 an hour — a so-called “living wage” for workers — but could potentially curtail retail expansion in the District as affected businesses that oppose the law locate elsewhere. The current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.

The bill applies only to large retailers with stores of 75,000 square feet or larger with annual corporate sales of at least $1 billion. Stores like Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Toys-R-Us, and the like are the targets of this part of the legislation. Walmart has already threatened to dissolve plans to build three stores in D.C. if the law passes. Can you blame them? How can politicians accurately discern how much Walmart should pay a cashier or someone who stocks shelves? How do politicians know how much any single job should be worth at a large retailer?

(more…)