traffickingMedium2The 2013 Global Slavery Index estimates that 29.8 million people are enslaved worldwide. To help address this problem, Pope Francis called for action to combat the growing problem of human trafficking and modern forms of slavery. At the pope’s request, Vatican officials and other experts met last weekend to discuss ways to better tackle the growing scourge of trafficking in humans and other forms of exploitation:

Human trafficking is a crime against humanity that should be recognized as such and punished by international or regional courts, a Vatican study group said on Monday.

Nearly 30 million people live in slavery across the globe, many of them men, women and children trafficked by gangs for sex work and unskilled labor, according to a global slavery index issued last month by the Walk Free Foundation charity.

“International or regional courts … should be created because human trafficking in an international phenomenon that cannot be properly prosecuted and punished at the national level,” said a statement listing 50 recommendations made at a two-day seminar held at the initiative of Pope Francis on how to combat human trafficking and slavery.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
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worshipToday many Christians in America will engage in the political activity of voting. But as Peter Leithart reminds us, worship is the leading political activity of Christians:

Christians are engaged in political action just by being part of the church. Worship is the leading political activity of Christians. In worship, we sing Psalms that call on God to judge the wicked and defend the oppressed, and God hears our Psalms; we pray for rulers to rule in righteousness; we hear the word of God that lays out our alternative way of life, and we sit at the table where we who are many are formed into one body, an alternative Christian polis, by sharing in the one loaf. The problem is that in many churches those things don’t happen. Churches don’t sing Psalms, and especially don’t sing the hard Psalms that call on God to judge the wicked. More churches are having weekly Eucharist, but in evangelicalism that is still more the exception than the rule. The first political agenda for American Christians is to get worship more into line with Scriptural requirements.

Read more . . .

Faithful in All God's House

I recently shared a lengthy excerpt from Faithful in All God’s House, highlighting the investment-return motif that appears throughout the Bible. “All of God’s gifts to mankind are as a divine investment on which the investor expects full return,” write Berghoef and DeKoster.

Several readers pushed back on the analogy, interpreting it to mean that God rolls out his divine plan according to earthbound assumptions, as if “prudent investment” means being beholden to the outputs of a narrow, materialistic cost-benefit analysis.

It’s troubling on many levels that “prudent investment” has come to reckon imaginations of something so imprudent for so many. We humans, the “agents of return,” are called to live within a framework much more varied, complex, and mysterious than the confines of a Wall Street banker, despite those times when such considerations have their place. We serve a God of love, and just as that love is deep and distinct from distorted human variations, we are called to live and think and act according to an economy not of our own constructing. (more…)

If you missed Acton’s Anniversary Dinner on October 24th, well, you sort of blew it. A packed house welcomed noted satirist, student of stupidity, political reporter (but I repeat myself), and all-around fun guy P.J. O’Rourke to Grand Rapids, and he came prepared to let the audience know just how unprepared he was to address an Acton Institute function:

For more from this year’s dinner, check out this earlier post: ‘Acton has Given Me a Backbone’

old tvIt’s a bit hard to imagine. Maybe during your favorite medical drama, as the fictional doctors and nurses rush to save a life, one of the doctors will slip in a line like, “Thank goodness this patient is covered under the Affordable Care Act!”

In an effort to pitch Obamacare to the masses, The California Endowment, a private fund, has given a $500,000 grant to ensure that Hollywood writers work the Affordable Care Act into television story lines. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
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Supreme Court to review dispute over public prayers
Bill Mears, CNN

The justices on Wednesday will hear arguments over whether Greece, New York, may continue sponsoring what it calls “inclusive” prayers at its open sessions, on government property.

Vatican seeks input from the pews on marriage and family issues
David Gibson, Religion News Service

In an unusual move, the Vatican has asked the world’s bishops to quickly canvas the faithful for their views on topics like gay marriage, divorce and birth control ahead of a major meeting of church leaders set for next fall.

Does God Want You to Be Rich…or Poor?
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

One of the most perplexing issues facing Christians in the marketplace today is whether God wants us to be rich or poor. It is easy enough to find plenty of people using verses from Scripture, often out of context, to support either extreme.

Iran gives Christians 80 lashes for communion wine as UN blasts human rights record
Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News

Four Iranian Christians were reportedly sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking wine for communion, a shocking punishment meted out even as a new United Nations report blasted the Islamic republic for its systematic persecution of non-Muslims.

Blog author: jwitt
Monday, November 4, 2013
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Here’s one for the you don’t know whether to laugh or cry file: the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have discovered and quashed an online shop’s attempt to parody the two agencies for behaving like Big Brother.

The silver lining: Dan McCall, owner of the shop, is hoping to restore his his First-Amendment rights through the courts.

The St. Cloud Times reports:

To ridicule electronic surveillance disclosures, he paired the NSA’s official seal on T-shirts for sale with the slogan: “The only part of the government that actually listens.”

He also has one with the sub-heading “Spying On You Since 1952,” and altered the NSA seal to read “Peeping While You’re Sleeping.”

“The NSA and DHS claims there are laws specific to them that prohibit you from doing anything with their logo and we don’t think that jives with First Amendment rights,” McCall said Thursday. (more…)