Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 14, 2015
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Catholics, Evangelicals team up to fight poverty
Michael O’Loughlin, Crux

Putting aside theological differences – and the battle for souls on the ground – in order to form a unified front on fighting poverty is the only way to make progress as inequality grows, Catholic and Evangelical leaders said Monday.

Bastiat, ‘reductio ad absurdum’ and the minimum wage
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas

The great French free-market economist Frederic Bastiat was considered by many to be the master of the reductio ad absurdum approach that he used quite effectively to expose the logical fallacies of his opponents’ positions by taking unsound arguments to their extreme and often ridiculous conclusions.

Student religious freedom bill signed into Alabama law
Erin Edgemon, AL.com

Legislation that protects students’ religious freedoms was signed into law by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley today on the National Day of Prayer.

Ministerial Exception Bars Discrimination Claims Against Salvation Army
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Rogers v. Salvation Army, (ED MI, May 11, 2015), a Michigan federal district court held that the ministerial exception doctrine bars race and age discrimination claims against The Salvation Army.

acton-commentary-blogimage“For too many of the poor in today’s America, life is essentially that of a client,” says Elise Hilton in this week’s Acton Commentary. “The government cares for their needs: housing, food, education. Spending one’s life as client creates an entitlement mentality: ‘I am here to receive. I am owed something. I depend on others for my needs and desires.’”

A place is where people are invested. They create homes, send their kids to school and dance lessons, own businesses, shop locally, plant gardens and cooperate in community enrichment. When one belongs in a place, one becomes a citizen.

With the ruins of Baltimore fresh in our minds, one is left to wonder how people of that place could torch businesses and destroy their home. The answer, I believe, lies in the difference between being a citizen, and being a client.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Vatican PopeKishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, evaluates a new book on Pope Francis and the economy. The book, Papa Francesco: Questa Economia Uccide [Pope Francis: This Economy Kills], is written by two Italian journalists known for skirting the ethical standards for Vatican journalists. For that alone, Jayabalan does not hold their work in high esteem. Writing at Crisis Magazine, Jayabalan is curious as to the motives of authors Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi:

As I started reading Papa Francesco: Questa Economia Uccide, I began to wonder why two Italian journalists would set out to write a book defending the economic statements of an Argentine pope against his American conservative critics. What dog do they have in this fight? Or as the pope himself would say, who are they to judge?

Finishing the book, I still had those questions and many more, but I cannot fault the authors for attempting to ride the wave of global popularity Pope Francis is enjoying. It could have been an engaging subject if it were written with any sense of objectivity, journalistic balance, or even willingness to concede that the pope’s economics critics may have a point worth taking seriously. Alas, this is not the case.

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On this edition of Radio Free Acton, we’re joined in studio by eminent Catholic scholar George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center to discuss the pontificate of Pope Francis, his coverage by the global media, and his upcoming trip to the United States. Weigel is joined in studio by Acton’s President and Co-Founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico, and the discussion is moderated by Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg.

Listen via the audio player below.

revokedChief Justice John Marshal wrote, in the Supreme Court ruling in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy; that the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create . . . are propositions not to be denied.” Yet for the last 196 years, people have repeatedly tried to deny those propositions.

The latest example involves the Supreme Court’s pending ruling on the same-sex marriage issue will affect the non-profit status of religious institutions, such as colleges and universities. Many people seem to deny that taxing such institutions would have any nefarious effects, much less “destroy” them. Many other—more knowledgeable—understand the destructive implications for religious organizations and consider it a fringe benefit. 

Leslie Loftis explains why religious organizations have preemptively been exempt from taxation—and why religious freedom requires they remain exempt:
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
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Why Americans oppose economic redistribution despite income inequality
Michael Barone, AEI Ideas

Americans have an innate sense that it’s a mistake to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. They seem to understand that, if taxes are too high, the affluent will figure out ways to shelter income.

The Faustian Bargain Between Church and State
David Shipler, The Atlantic

To receive tax-exempt status from the IRS, religious organizations must abstain from electioneering. Is that constitutional?

The Surprising News about Poverty
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

We won’t ever have all the pieces to the poverty puzzle in place on this side of eternity, but every now and then, a few seem to fall into place.

Forgive Us Our Debts: Family Christian Turns to the Law for Grace
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today

The Bible debate inside the bankrupt bookstore chain’s searches for a new buyer.

7figuresThe Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an a new survey by the Pew Research Center that compares the religious landscape of 2015 to 2007. Here are seven figures you should know from the report.

1. Between 2007 and 2014, the share of the U.S. population that identifies as Christian fell from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent, driven primarily by declines among mainline Protestant and Catholics.

2. The rise in intermarriage appears to be linked with the growth of the religiously unaffiliated population. Nearly one-in-five people surveyed who got married since 2010 are either religiously unaffiliated respondents who married a Christian spouse or Christians who married an unaffiliated spouse. By contrast, just 5 percent of people who got married before 1960 fit this profile.

3. Catholics appear to be declining both as a percentage of the population and in absolute numbers. The new survey indicates there are about 51 million Catholic adults in the U.S. today, roughly 3 million fewer than in 2007. But taking margins of error into account, the decline in the number of Catholic adults could be as modest as 1 million.
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cambodiaThere are few things more horrifying than the sexual exploitation of a child. Perhaps it is made even worse to think that those who are meant to protect the child (parents, police, court officials) are complicit in the harm of that child. No place on Earth was worse than Cambodia.

But that has changed. According to International Justice Mission (IJM), Cambodian officials have said, “No more,” and they meant it.

In the early 2000s, the Cambodian government estimated that 30 percent of those in the country’s sex industry were children. But news coverage of Western men negotiating the purchase of first- and second-grade girls in Svay Pak embarrassed Cambodia and revolted its principal international donor, the United States. When then-U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray warned the interior minister that Cambodia would lose U.S. aid if it didn’t clean up its act, the government responded with alacrity. It sacked corrupt officers from the anti-trafficking police unit and installed new leadership. A strong anti-trafficking law was adopted, and hundreds of pimps, brothel owners and foreign pedophiles were arrested, charged, convicted and jailed.

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the_visigothsWhile it could be argued that youth is wasted on the young, it is indisputable that commencement addresses are wasted on young graduates. Sitting in a stuffy auditorium waiting to receive a parchment that marks the beginning of one’s student loan repayments is not the most conducive atmosphere for soaking up wisdom. Insight, which can otherwise seep through the thickest of skulls, cannot pierce mortarboard.

Most colleges and universities recognize this fact and schedule the graduation speeches accordingly. Schools regularly choose speakers who are unlikely to motivate, inspire, or provide advice that will be remembered after the post-graduation hangover. That is why graduates are subjected to such deep thinkers as actor Alan Alda (Carnegie Mellon University), comedian Stephen Colbert (Wake Forest), and rapper Kanye West (Art Institute of Chicago).

Although he had been forced to sit through dozen of such speeches, the late communications theorist Neil Postman was never invited to provide a commencement address. He did prepare some remarks, though, that he planned to use if ever given the opportunity. In typical Postman fashion he even provides it as a true open source document: “If you think my graduation speech is good, I hereby grant you permission to use it, without further approval from or credit to me, should you be in an appropriate situation.”

Postman’s graduation speech is good. Too good, in fact, to be wasted on the young:
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Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
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Madeleine lengle.jpg

This week the University Bookman published an essay in which I reflect on some of the lessons we can learn from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, especially related to the recent discovery of an excised section. L’Engle, I argue, is part of a longer tradition of classical conservative thought running, in the modern era, from Burke to Kirk.

Although L’Engle’s narrative vision is drenched in Christianity, she is often thought of holding to a rather liberal, rather than traditional or conservative, form of the faith. However, in an intriguing essay published as part of an edited collection by Regnery in 1986, L’Engle describes what the proper role of the church, particularly of her Episcopal church, ought to be with respect to social realities.

I discovered this piece while doing some research for my own small book on the economic teachings of the ecumenical movement. In “What May I Expect from My Church?” the question she raises with respect to the “Anglican establishment” was precisely the one that interested me with respect to the ecumenical movement: “Where and how do I want my establishment to inject itself into secular controversies?”
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