Reading the 2013 results of proxy shareholder resolutions orchestrated by various leftist organizations affiliated with “religiously” oriented investment groups, a colorfully descriptive phrase came to mind to describe both: Whatever its derivation, useful idiots is employed as “a pejorative term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.”

For the purposes of this post, we’ll grant groups with purported religious and socially conscious authority such as Walden Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, As You Sow and the Interfaith Council on Corporate Responsibility the benefit of the doubt. We’re not questioning the quality of their faith or the depth of their social concern. But their political agitation is fair game for a thorough critique. And it is clear that these groups have a major blind spot when it comes to financier George Soros.  Soros, one may recall, is the Hungarian-born multibillionaire responsible for funding radical leftist causes, including the Center for Political Accountability, Common Cause, Media Matters, Planned Parenthood and ACORN and various and other sullied causes. The man, it should be noted, also amasses vast wealth by, in part, heavily investing in the energy sector.

It is the Center for Political Accountability, however, upon which I focus today. As noted previously, CPA’s Bruce Freed authored many of the shareholder resolutions introduced by faith-based activist shareholders gathered together to quiet corporate political speech as well as derail profits and place expensive speed bumps in the paths of companies in direct competition with Soros’ financial interests. Doubt it? Herewith from Ceres’ website:

Investors achieved noteworthy victories during this year’s shareholder proxy season, with a near record 110 shareholder resolutions filed with 94 U.S. companies on hydraulic fracturing, flaring, fossil fuel reserve risks and other climate – and sustainability – related risks and opportunities….

Filers of the resolutions include some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, such as the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York State and New York City Comptrollers’ Offices; socially responsible investors such as Green Century Capital Management and Trillium Asset Management; and religious, labor and other institutional investors, who collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets.

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With a bit of breathless excitement (“a progressive theological current“), there is news in Rome that Pope Francis is welcoming liberation theology back into the Vatican. On Sunday, Sept. 8, the Vatican announced a meeting between the pope Vatican Popeand Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Mueller has co-authored a book with Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian who is considered the founder of liberation theology, and the two will present the book to Pope Francis.

Liberation theology came out of Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, emphasizing a preferential option for the poor, but with strong ties to Marxist ideals as well. In 1984, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) noted that liberation theology began with the premise that all other theologies were no longer sufficient, and a new “spiritual orientation” was needed. Further, Cardinal Ratzinger said of this theology,

The idea of a turning to the world, of responsibility for the world, frequently deteriorated into a naive belief in science which accepted the human sciences as a new gospel without wanting to see their limitations and endemic problems. Psychology, sociology and the marxist interpretation of history seemed to be scientifically established and hence to become unquestionable arbiters of Christian thought.

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Since they can have religious purposes, churches, charities, and parochial school all have legitimate — and legally recognized — claims to religious liberty. Why then, asks legal scholar Jonathan H. Adler, could for-profit corporations not also have religious purposes?

An individual sole proprietor — of, say, a kosher deli, to use Will’s example — would clearly be able to press a religious liberty claim, whether or not she hopes the deli will make her rich (and whether or not she commits to donate her earnings to a religious charity). Does this individual lose such rights if she incorporated? Does that somehow make her religious motivations any less sincere? Any less judicially cognizable? I can’t see how. What, then, if the deli owner formed a partnership with her equally devout brother? Would that matter? And, again, if an informal partnership would be okay, why would the adoption of a corporate form and limited liability matter?

The consequence of the “no religious liberty for corporations” position is that individuals who would like to go into business are penalized if they seek to go into business without any potential recourse, under RFRA or otherwise. The choice presented by the state is go into business or stay true to your religious beliefs. Although I suggested otherwise before, it seems to me this approach imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion. Whether this burden can be justified in a given case is a separate question, but the burden is there

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
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At Houston lecture, Scalia explores Christian virtues and economic systems
Cindy George, Houston Chronicle

“While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism … it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is.”

Australia has ditched an incompetent Anglican for a Roman Catholic of promise
Archbishop Cranmer, Cranmer

Not even casting his vote in St Paul’s Anglican Church, Brisbane, could save the dishonoured and dishonourable Kevin Rudd from the wrath of the people – the ultimate judgment in the democratic fray.

The Last Stand: The Fight of State Attorneys General to Preserve Federalism
Hans von Spakovsky, The Foundry

These four state AGs, along with a number of others, are fighting back by vigorously contesting the national government’s invasion of state sovereignty in legal fights involving energy, health care, the environment, voting and elections, religious liberty, labor relations, and financial transactions.

Why We Should Respect Someone Else’s Conscience
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

These days in our political and even ecclesiastical battles we hear a great deal about the primacy of the conscience, but almost nothing about what the conscience is and why we should care, not about our own conscience, but about someone else’s.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 9, 2013
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military-draftAs Congress decides whether to commit the U.S. to another war in the Middle East, Democratic Representative Charles Rangel of New York is proposing — yet again — that Congress reinstate the military draft. Rep. Rangel, a decorated veteran of the Korean War and the third-longest-serving member of Congress, has proposed reinstating the draft about a half dozen times over the past decade.

After he proposed the legislation in 2004, Congressional Republicans called his bluff and Rangel voted against his own bill. Rangel has never been accused of being a man of principle, but at least he has his priorities straight. “This is hypocrisy of the worst kind,” Rangel said. “I would not encourage any Democrat running for re-election to vote for this bill.”

Despite his theatrics, Rangel doesn’t really want to return a return to military conscription. And he’s not alone. While there are numerous reasons we aren’t likely to see a return to non-volunteer service, the main one is that almost no one wants to reinstate the useless relic.

In fact, there is only one group that likes the idea of conscription less than future draft dodgers: the current all-volunteer military. A draft would have such a detrimental affect on military readiness that the Pentagon would only consider the idea as an absolute last resort. The problems and headaches that came over the past decade with the mobilization of the reserve units would only be compounded exponentially by using untrained and unmotivated conscripts.

More importantly, though, a draft should only even be considered an option of last resort — and perhaps not even then.
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On Sept. 28, Rev. Robert Sirico will participate in a “National Briefing on Religious Liberty.” The Colson Center has partnered with the Truth of a New Generation Conference to bring together this panel discussion. Rev. Sirico is joined by:

Lauren Green – moderator (Fox News)
Dr. Timothy George (Beeson Divinity school),
Jennifer Marshall (The Heritage Foundation),
Eric Teetsel (Manhattan Declaration),
John Stonestreet (Colson Center), and
Eric Metaxas

The panel discussion will be followed by a keynote address from Metaxas. Please click here for more information.

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, September 9, 2013
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Crowded emergency room waiting area.The Obama Administration is counting down the days and rounding up “navigators” to get Obamacare off the ground. (Those navigators, by the way, will get $58 for each person they sign up, on top of their hourly pay.) The big question: Is Obamacare going to work? Will it deliver better health to Americans? There are a lot of skeptics, including Forbes’ Paul Howard. Howard’s concern is that Obamacare is using mid-20th century assumptions about health and insurance in a 21st century world.

Washington’s view of health care remains deeply entrenched in mid-century assumptions about health and illness.  Health care via industrial policy makes sense if illness is an Act of God to which all are equally vulnerable and a known quantity of health care can be delivered to everyone at a fixed price.   If these assumptions are true, the largest payer – the government – can set the rules of the road, from which all (or almost all) benefit.

That was a reasonable picture of medicine well into the 20th century…when infectious diseases dominated U.S. deaths.  But by 1950, heart disease and cancer had displaced infections as the nation’s most potent killers.  (“Diseases of early infancy” was still the fourth-leading cause of death in 1950. By 2010, they had dropped off the table entirely.)

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