Blog author: jcarter
Monday, June 3, 2013

Obama, God, and the Profits
Mark Rienzi, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Earning money doesn’t suddenly give the government the right to extinguish your constitutional rights.

Christian Martyrs to Islam, Past and Present
Charlotte Allen, Wall Street Journal

The making of the new saints was a vivid reminder of something that many people, including historians, prefer to gloss over: the pattern over the centuries of Islamic persecution of Christians that continues to this day in many Muslim-majority lands.

Religious liberty advocates call for faiths to join forces
Allison Pond, Deseret News

An attack on the religious liberty of members of one faith is an attack on all faiths, religious freedom advocates and faith leaders were told at a conference on Thursday.

Religious Freedom: A Civil-Rights Issue
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review

In many respects, religious freedom has always been a civil-rights issue. It’s perhaps unique among civil-rights issues in that it was the impetus for many of the first American colonists to risk their lives to settle in the New World.

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a professor at Yeshiva College in New York, says religious liberty does not mean we need to water down our beliefs in order to get along. Rather, he says that people of different faiths must learn to live as both “stranger and friend“:

The rabbi explained that “America is the first country in a long time founded around an idea,” and that religious freedom “is the philosophical lynchpin of what lies at the heart of American ideals.”

This theory is evident throughout American history, he said.

To illustrate his point, Rabbi Soloveichik recounted the story of Jonas Phillips, a Jewish merchant living in the early United States. He explained that shortly after the formation of the country, Jews wishing to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature were required to swear an oath upon a Christian Bible, a blasphemous act for the Jewish people.

[Jonas] Phillips [a Jewish merchant], who had fought in the Revolutionary War alongside other Jews and Christians, found that this requirement was in opposition to the founding principles of the country, Soloveichik explained. The merchant sent a letter to George Washington protesting this practice and affirming that “all religious societies are on an equal footing.”

The rabbi maintains that a just society “will accept these differences and respect a person’s freedom to abide by his or her religious beliefs, treating the individual ‘as equal, without sacrificing religious faith’ for social uniformity.”Read “Religious Differences Compatible With Freedom, Jewish Leader Says” at National Catholic Register.

Back in January, I was interviewed for the podcast Conversations On Orthodoxy. After some wonderful editing, the interview has recently been posted.

In particular, the focus of the interview is mostly on how I went from an American Evangelical upbringing to becoming a convert to the Orthodox Church. However, I wanted to link to it here because it concludes with some thoughts about my work at Acton. In particular, I talk about Acton’s vision for a free and virtuous society, its approach to ecumenism, and where I see my own research as an Orthodox Christian in the context of my work here and elsewhere.

You can listen to the podcast here.

As a small disclaimer, I would like to say that at one point it appears that I attribute dispensational eschatology to my alma mater Kuyper College, a school in the Reformed tradition (and therefore decidedly not dispensationalist). The sound bite in question actually is about my childhood church, but I did not make that clear enough during the interview, contributing to the mix up. Other than that, though, I think it turned out great and extend my thanks to Conversations On Orthodoxy.

300px-MotherTeresa_0902Forbes‘ Ralph Benko explains what a chance encounter with Mother Teresa taught him about good economic policy:

I had walked by a homeless man (or, as then was called, bum) sleeping on the 41st Street sidewalk. People sleeping on the sidewalk were a familiar sight in the New York City of that era. I hadn’t even noticed him.

But Mother Teresa had noticed him. And she had stopped to get him to his feet.

As I approached the group, Mother Teresa was glaring up at this wobbly fellow — someone nearly two feet taller than her. She had her forefinger pointed right in his face. A cop, who had wandered over, echoed her lecture to him:

“Now you listen to the little lady. Unless you help yourself there ain’t nothin’ we can do for you.”

Macroeconomics in a nutshell. This presented an axiom apparently lost on both major political parties today.

Read more . . .

sowell-intellect-raceThe more I read of Thomas Sowell’s latest book, Intellectuals and Race, the more I am persuaded that the era of progressivism may have been just as damaging to the history of black progress in American than the Jim Crow era. From the latter part of the 19th-century through the 1930s progressives sought to use government as a means of addressing the social ills of society. It was an era where leading intellectuals, in partnership with politicians, expanded the scope of the government’s decision-making authority to address the needs of the poor. It was an era where good intentions created more problems than policy makers anticipated. Sowell explains how these policies were especially harmful to minorities in chapter 3 of the book.

According to the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, Michigan’s three largest universities (Michigan State, University of Michigan and Wayne State) are producing entrepreneurs at twice the national average. According to Michael Wayland, the report included:

…responses from more than 40,000 of the 1.2 million alumni of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. The responses revealed that more than 19 percent of the alumni surveyed have started a company, and some have created more than one.

The study suggests a significant number of alumni are starting their own businesses, and more than 50 percent of those businesses are here in Michigan, contributing to our state’s economic prosperity,” said URC [University Research Corridor] Executive Director Jeff Mason in a statement. “The URC is committed to supplying the tools that can lead to new companies and more jobs.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 31, 2013

Poll: Most Americans Say Religion Is Losing Influence in U.S.
Frank Newport, Gallup

But 75% say American society would be better off if more Americans were religious

Flourishing: The Way Things Ought To Be
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The Bible tells us that full shalom awaits God’s people at the end of this age, in the last chapter of redemptive history when Christ returns to consummate his kingdom. We are called to work toward shalom while we await the return of Christ.

Cardinal Dolan on Assault on Religious Freedom: Not a Slippery Slope, But a Ski Slope
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review

Further addressing the connections between the story of union power politics and the HHS mandate fight, Dolan said: “If we give in now, they will not leave us alone. No. That never happens.” Twenty years ago, it was a union. Today it is the federal government, in a regulation it has manipulatively demogogued into utter confusion.

Vatican to UN: 100 thousand Christians killed for the faith each year
Vatican Radio

The Holy See has expressed “deep concern” for violations of religious freedom and systematic attacks on Christian communities in regions of the world such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East.