Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ukraine Names Baptist Pastor as Acting President
Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today

After 88 die in protests, Ukrainian evangelicals call nation “to learn to love yesterday’s enemies.”

Some inconvenient facts for income inequality worriers
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

The reform conservative movement seeks to strengthen the middle class, reform the safety net, and increase the rewards for low-income work. At the same, it rejects crony capitalist policies that enable vast wealth through government favor rather than innovation

The Pope’s radical call to the new evangelization
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, L’Osservatore Romano

American Cardinal on the message of this Pontificate

UN Commission Finds Severe Human Rights Abuses, Including Religious Persecution, In North Korea
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights announced yesterday the release of the report of a commission of inquiry on human rights abuses in North Korea

venezuela-protestsWhat’s going on in Venezuela?

A wave of anti-government demonstrations has been sweeping through Venezuela since early February. There have been at least 13 people been killed, 150 injured, and over 500  arrested.

Where exactly is Venezuela?

Venezuela is a country on the northern coast of South America that borders Columbia, Brazil, and Guyana. The Caribbean Sea is along the northern border. The country, which is nearly twice the size of California, is is one of the ten most biodiverse countries on the planet.

What is the cause of the conflict?

The protests began earlier this month when students demanded increased security after a female student alleged she was the victim of an attempted rape. (Venezuela has the fifth highest murder rate in the world and crime plagues many of its urban areas.) The protestors are also concerned about record inflation (official figures suggest yearly inflation in December 2013 stood at 56.2%) and shortages of basic food items. One in four basic goods is currently out of stock, according to the central bank’s monthly scarcity index released Feb. 10. Milk, for example, is reported to have been missing from supermarket shelves for months.

facebook_ad_large_1On-demand ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are on the rise, allowing smartphone users to request cab drivers with the touch of a button. But though the services are popular with consumers and drivers alike, they’re finding less favor among their taxi-company competitors and the unions and government bureaucrats who protect them.

Calling for increased regulation, entrance fees, and insurance requirements, competitors are grappling to retain their privileged, insulated status. In Miami-Dade County, an area with particularly onerous restrictions and regulations, Diego Feliciano, president of the South Florida Taxicab Association, argues that the change is bound to “ruin the very thing it’s trying to improve,” all because it threatens the fat cats who pay his salary, and who can afford to jump through the regulatory hoops. “When looking at new technologies,” he writes, “we must also be sure people’s basic civil rights and the safety of the riding public are protected.”

Bringing these petty municipal battles into the limelight, actor Ashton Kutcher, an early investor in Uber, recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, decrying “antiquated legislation,” “old-school monopolies,” and “old-school governments” who continue to stand in the way of innovation and consumer demand. In areas like Miami, Kutcher says, there is a “Mafioso mentality” against letting the “new guys” in.

Indeed, as Miami’s Feliciano aptly demonstrates, the protectionist mindset only sees what is, viewing economic activity in static and self-centered terms, and failing to recognize or value the type of opportunity and possibility that comes with increased freedom and ownership. Feliciano claims that he’s interested in “safety” and “basic civil rights,” but the only folks being protected are those with power and pocketbooks. (more…)

The Department of Health and Human Services, under the direction of Kathleen Sebelius and the Obama administration, has a website aimed at stopping bullies: While it has pages for parents, kids, educators and other community members, it apparently needs to add a page for politicians.

Michigan resident Julie Boonstra is currently featured in a tv commercial funded by Americans for Prosperity. Boonstra suffers from leukemia, and lost her health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. She calls out Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters for voting for Obamacare. Peters doesn’t like that, and he’s turned to bullying tactics: (more…)

Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

gay new blackAt The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter (Senior Editor for the Acton Institute) does some speculating on whether or not “gay is the new black.” That is, can we equate sexual behavior and race when we are discussing questions about equality, marriage, adoption, and discrimination?

By now, most of us are familiar with the issues surrounding Christian business owners (such as bakers and photographers) who have declined to do business for a homosexual wedding. Our nation is currently struggling with whether or not a person with religious beliefs can be forced to violate those beliefs in the name of equality. If I (a Christian) own a hall that I rent out for parties, receptions, etc., can I refuse to rent to a Hispanic or black family? The law says no, and rightly so. Can I refuse to rent that same hall out to a gay couple celebrating their wedding? Carter dissects the issues:

The argument to make this comparison takes the following form:

Major Premise: A sexual orientation is analogous to the category of race.

Minor Premise: Race is a category protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Conclusion: Therefore, sexual orientation should have the same civil-rights protections as those afforded to race.

The question we will examine is whether the major premise is true. Is sexual orientation and its behavior analogous to race? Before we can answer that question, we we must consider what constitutes a justification for anti-discrimination laws.


Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The War on Humans
Wesley Smith, First Things

[B]eginning in the late 1960s, a subversive misanthropy began to gestate within environmentalism. This view does not see the earth and the fullness thereof—in the Biblical turn of phrase—as ours to develop responsibly for human benefit, but instead castigates humans as a “disease” (or “parasites,” “maggots,” “cancer,” take your pick) afflicting the planet, best treated with the antibiotic of radical human depopulation and implacable opposition to economic growth.

Reasonable Hope for Our Secular Age
An interview with Greg Forster, The Gospel Coalition

For Christians in the secularizing West, the days of privilege have ended. And that’s not entirely a bad thing.

Rikers Island Tackles Rearrest Rate With Country’s First Social Impact Bond
Ken Stier, Free Enterprise

What is different is the way the program is being funded — through the country’s first social impact bond. With the innovative financing option, Goldman Sachs’ [Urban Investment Group] is lending the city $9.6 million to fund the program for four years. The bank would only get repaid — plus interest —if the program succeeds in reducing recidivism.

Texas’s Cost-Benefit Guide to Choosing a College
Fawn Johnson, The Atlantic

A new website offers data on tuition, fees, and potential earnings from the state’s public universities.

Blog author: dpahman
Monday, February 24, 2014

Today at Red River Orthodox, I offer a brief introduction to the liberal tradition for Orthodox Christians living in the West:

Liberalism, historically, is a broad intellectual tradition including a large and disparate group of thinkers. The epistemological differences between John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant do not stop them all from being liberals. In economics the range extends from Friedrich Hayek to John Maynard Keynes. In political philosophy, from John Rawls to Robert Nozick. For that matter, both the American and French Revolutions have liberal foundations, though often (and rightly) contrasted.

I conclude by encouraging a more nuanced engagement with the West than is sometimes the case in the East:

[F]or a responsible, “liberal engagement” with the West from an Orthodox Christian perspective, it will not do to dismiss anything we don’t like as Western and liberal and, therefore, wrong. As Solzhenitsyn put [it], “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” And if that is true, then both East and West, including Western liberalism, have plenty of good and evil to go around.

How might Orthodox Christians better evaluate one of the many liberalisms that make up the water in which we swim in the West today?

To give an example, I would positively recommend to my fellow Orthodox Christians the German ordoliberal school of economic thought for the following reasons: (more…)