parsonage (1)On Friday a federal judge ruled that an IRS exemption that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances is unconstitutional. The exemption applies to an estimated 44,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others. If the ruling stands, some clergy members could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay.

Aside from the question of constitutionality, the clergy exemption raises a question that many people — whether religious or not — are likely to be wondering: Why exactly do ministers receive a tax exemption for their housing allowance?

At the website of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, I explain the historical, legal, and ecclesiological reasons for allowing the exemption and why it’s an issue of religious freedom:
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store-crowdWant to help the working poor this Christmas season? Nicole Gelinas has a free-market suggestion: Don’t shop on Thanksgiving.

More than half a decade on, we’re still missing 976,000 jobs — and we’re missing 12 million jobs if you figure that jobs should grow as the population grows.

But it’s one thing to be economically afraid. It’s another to be cut off from fully celebrating America’s all-race, all-religion family holiday because you and your fellow Americans are fearful economically.

That’s what’s happening to millions of retail workers who’ve had to work on Thanksgiving for the past half-decade.

Stores aren’t opening on Thanksgiving because they’re doing well. Just the opposite: They’ll open because they’re not doing well.

Read more . . .

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, November 25, 2013
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anne of green gablesAnne got her best friend, Diana, drunk. Sick-drunk. Neither was old enough to drink, and Anne didn’t really mean to, but…there it was. Diana’s mother was horrified, and forbade the friendship to go on. Anne was crushed. She really had made a mistake: what she thought was a cordial was wine. It was a hard lesson.

If you ever read Anne of Green Gables, you know this story. Things get set aright – partly by the adults, and partly by Anne. She learned a very hard lesson – and so did I. Anne’s mistake and her tenacity in fighting for the friendship gave me much food for thought, in a book I’ve read time and again since my childhood.

Daniel B. Coupland, an associate professor of education at Hillsdale College, knows that “children’s” stories hold sway in the world of morality. Oh, we don’t need cloying stories that tell children, “do this” and “don’t do that.” No, good literature helps children form imagination and morality without shoving it down their throats. (more…)

TeaPartyCatholicSamuel Gregg’s latest, Tea Party Catholic, is now available for the Kindle. You can buy this version through Amazon, or if you prefer the paper version, visit TeaPartyCatholic.com

Robert P George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University says, “The book is as carefully and, indeed, rigorously argued as it is provocatively titled. It is a great resource for anyone—Catholic or not—who wants to know what the Church really teaches about the moral requirements of the socio-economic and political orders.”

If you haven’t already, take the Tea Party Catholic Quiz to see if you’re a tea party catholic.

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, November 25, 2013
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respect freedomThe Catholic Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, along with several nonprofit groups, have won a preliminary injunction against implementing the HHS mandate. U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab granted an injunction in favor of these organizations.

The injunction allows them to continue to offer insurance that doesn’t include contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs while litigation continues. Without the injunction, the insurance administrators for the organizations — though not the dioceses themselves — would have had to start providing the coverage Jan. 1.

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 25, 2013
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Judge Strikes Down Housing Tax Break for Pastors
Katelyn Beaty, Christianity Today

One of the most important tax breaks available to American pastors is unconstitutional.

C.S. Lewis: Scholar to the Common Man
Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative

Some people have said C.S. Lewis sounds as if he’s talking “down” to his readers. But his style is only childish in the sense that it is grammatically simple.

Should High Schools Offer More Job Training?
Sophie Quinton, The Atlantic

Some states are rolling back high school graduation requirements to help prepare students who will enter the workforce after graduation.

That Hideous State
Joe Rigney, National Review

C. S. Lewis’s social critiques are more relevant than ever in the Age of Obama.

get-your-hands-dirtyAt the Values & Capitalism blog, Jacqueline Otto Isaacs reviews Jordan Ballor’s Get Your Hands Dirty. Isaacs explains how Ballor articulates a vision for the proper orientation for our lives:

In his recent release, “Get Your Hands Dirty,” Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute lays out a clear case for why Christians ought to have rightly ordered lives and what that might look like. While the book took shape around a collection of essays, this message was as hard to miss as the bright orange cover itself. Having a rightly ordered, God-centered life allows us to be more efficient in our work and more effective as “salt and light” in our world. The title is derived from this call to “get involved deeply and meaningfully in the messiness of the world,” and also probably from Ballor’s affinity for quoting Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs, whose thoughts about work make several appearances throughout the book.

Ballor describes an ordinate life as one that is “rightly ordered relative to other loves, regards, and interests” (62). He illustrates in great depth the perspective that this type of life will give us in regard to our vocations. He also speaks about how institutions—namely the government— can have a negative effect on our work when they are out of their rightly ordered positions in our lives. “We need to put politics and political life in its proper place,” he says. “That is, we need to properly relate the political to everything else (culture, business, family, charity, church)” (206).

Read more . . .