Natural Family Planning educatiaon in the Saint Anthony Clinic in Dili, East Timor

Natural Family Planning educatiaon in the Saint Anthony Clinic in Dili, East Timor

Once, in a Bible study I was involved with, we women got chatting, and one lady (as we were discussing poverty in Haiti) said, “If we could just get those women to stop having so many kids…” [drawn-out sigh.] My reply was that we didn’t need to stop women from having babies; we needed to help educate women.

For years, organizations like the World Health Organization have tried to distribute artificial birth control in the developing world. The thinking here is that if families have fewer children, there will be more opportunities for the health and welfare of the children who are born. Of course, this mentality fails on several counts. First, it overlooks religious and cultural values in many places around the world where large families are desired, and where artificial birth control is considered sinful. Second, even the World Health Organization notes that many forms of artificial birth control are known carcinogens. Finally, in many developing countries, the simplest of health care is out-of-reach both financially and geographically. That is, a family that cannot afford netting treated to ward off mosquitoes carrying malaria or who has to walk days to reach a clinic are certainly not going to be able to utilize artificial birth control with any regularity – which means it won’t work. (more…)

Recently, the World Bank agreed to partner with Nicaragua to give the country 69 million U.S. dollars in aid. This poses the immediate question of whether or not this aid will be effective in producing its stated goal of decreasing poverty and increasing economic productivity. Should the World Bank continue to give money to the government of Nicaragua, which – especially of late – has been showing a decrease in political stability and democratic processes? History shows that international loans provide little help when countries suffer from decreases in stability and equality within their system.

The World Bank justifies the money that Nicaragua receives: “Nicaragua has achieved a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 5 percent in 2012 and 4.6 percent in 2013, returning to pre-crisis growth levels.” GDP, however, does not paint a complete picture of the country’s performance. Most of the wealth within Nicaragua is located among the upper class, making the GDP less accurate for the country as a whole. Gross Domestic Product in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2012 was estimated at $20.04 billion USD, and GDP per capita in PPP at $3,300 USD, making Nicaragua the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, July 18, 2014

Christian Cake Baker Appeals Government ‘Re-Education’ Order
Bethany Monk, CitizenLink

A Christian cake artist in Colorado filed an appeal Wednesday challenging a government order that says he and his staff must take “re-education” classes. The classes would “educate” employees about a state law that effectively demands that businesses celebrate same-sex ceremonies.

Re-Islamization in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Next?
Victor Gaetan, National Catholic Register

Turkish press reported the lead organizer said, “It is our duty to convert it back to its original state [sic] to show Islam’s prevalence in this region and carry out the nation’s will.”

Is The War On Drugs Racist?
Jason Riley, The Federalist

The black inmate population reflects black criminality, not a racist criminal justice system.

Religious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It’s More Complicated
John D. Inazu, Christianity Today

The legal context for what’s happening at Gordon College, and how Christians can respond despite intense cultural backlash.

social-mobility-01_500x260Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts explaining 12 principles that generally drive the thinking of conservative evangelicals when it comes to economics. Number 9 on my list was:

9. Social mobility — specifically getting people out of poverty — is infinitely more important than income inequality.

Social mobility is the ability of an individual or family to improve (or lower) their economic status. The two main types of social mobility are intergenerational (i.e., a person is better off than their parents or grandparents) or intragenerational (i.e., income changes within a person or group’s lifetime). Researchers at Harvard University recently released a study of intergenerational social mobility within the United States which controlled for five factors: racial segregation, income inequality, school quality, social capital, and family structure.

Can you guess which factor makes the most difference for social mobility?
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, July 17, 2014

How do we help struggling Americans rise out of poverty? Robert Doar, AEI’s fellow in poverty studies and former New York City welfare commissioner, offers four key principles everyone concerned with fighting poverty should know.

children at borderCatherine Herridge at Fox News reports that a new intelligence study suggests that the latest surge of illegal immigrants are not fleeing violence in their homelands, but rather are under the misconception that if they make it to the United States border, they will be granted permission to stay.

The 10-page July 7 report was issued by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which according to the Justice Department website is led by the DEA and incorporates Homeland Security. Its focus is on the collection and distribution of tactical intelligence, information which can immediately be acted on by law enforcement.

“Of the 230 migrants interviewed, 219 cited the primary reason for migrating to the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisos to UAC (unaccompanied children) and adult females OTMs (other than Mexicans) traveling with minors,” the report said.

Coyotes or human traffickers are said to be to blame for much of this. They are looking to money from vulnerable people. Often charging thousands of dollars per person, the coyotes have a vested interest in keeping the flow of illegal immigrants moving. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. told reporters on Tuesday, July 15, “Remember this is not a five-year-old [sic] or an 11-year-old can’t just walk over the border and get to the United States. These are organized coyotes doing this.”

The administration’s lack of response to the border crisis is construed as permissive by many, leading to not only illegal immigration, but human trafficking and exploitation of children, the poor and most vulnerable.

Read “Misperceptions about U.S. immigration policy behind surge of illegal children, report says” at Fox News.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, July 17, 2014

Boko Haram Shows No Mercy in Nigeria, Wrecking Churches, Homes, Lives
Robyn Dixon, L.A. Times

When Boko Haram invaded her village last year, the Islamists extremists burned the churches, destroyed Bibles and photographs and forced Hamatu Juwanda to renounce Christianity.

The Progressive Appeal to an Imaginary Calendar
Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition

There’s no reason to assume that the position we hold to is right because it’s Tuesday and not Monday. And yet, that’s the kind of ”appeal to the calendar” we often witness in popular progressive circles.

Religion in a Heart-Shaped Box
Owen Strachan, First Things

This personal right—one of Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “four freedoms” and the lodestar of New England’s first settlers fleeing religious persecution—is fast becoming the most contested cultural issue of our day.

Making A Profit: An Unexpected Way to Help Others
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Profit is simply a measurement. It is feedback sent to producers in response to a service or product. From it, we can gauge whether or not to continue production of that service or item.

Blog author: sstanley
posted by on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A few months ago, the Fairtrade movement came under fire after a British study stated that fairtrade certified farmers were actually making less  and were working in worse conditions than non-certified farmers. Of course, this was not the first time the fairtrade movement was accused of failing to fulfill its goals. However, Vega, a new company based in León, Nicaragua has decided to employ a new method of business that focuses much more on the coffee farmers.  They see the problem with fairtrade products in a bloated  supply chain; this is the normal supply chain for a cup of fairtrade coffee:

Supply Chain

Forbes contributor, Anne field, shows the disparity between the amount Americans pay for a cup of coffee and what the farmers receive:

Each small scale farmer produces about 500 pounds of Fair Trade organic coffee  a year and gets around $1.30 a pound, or $700 a year.  The upshot: Farmers of specialty grade coffee beans earn $1 a pound for a product costing U .S. consumers maybe $20. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

icon_41487So the “Young Adult Leadership Taskforce” (YALT) of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and Reformed Church in America (RCA) put out a list of their top 40 under 40 (20 from each denomination), and they put me on it. I am still under 40 by a few years, but that cutoff is approaching quickly. I figure that once you turn 40 you aren’t eligible for lists like this anymore. You start to be “over 40″ and part of the “irrelevant” nation.

Angst about kids these days isn’t anything new, of course, and goes to show that teenagers don’t have a monopoly on such anxiety. As Marvin Berkowitz, professor of character education at University of Missouri at St. Louis, puts it, “There are quotes going back at least three or 4,000 years in which adults lament that today’s youth are the worst, morally, ever.”
(more…)

Before we examine the current immigration issue and President Obama’s ill-conceived immigration policy, says Elise Hilton in this week’s Acton Commentary, let’s go back to 1960, another crisis and another group of children:

Most people have never heard of Project Pedro Pan. When Fidel Castro brought the horrors of Communism to the island nation of Cuba, parents feared their children would lose their faith, their heritage and suffer indoctrination. Some parents did the unthinkable: They sent their children away, not knowing if they’d be reunited.

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