Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
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E.U. Agrees to Naval Intervention on Human Traffickers
James Kanter, New York Times

European Union foreign and defense ministers agreed on Monday to establish naval operations to disrupt human traffickers from setting off from North Africa.

To Overcome Polarization, Focus on the Poor
David Lapp, Family Studies

Debating how culture and economics shape poverty can distract us from helping the poor people right in front of us.

Report: Only ‘full recognition of religious freedom’ will protect people
Carol Zimmermann, Crux

The cover photograph on a new 232-page report outlining religious freedom violations around the world last year pretty much says it all.

Carrying out the Cultural Mandate Is Essential for Biblical Flourishing
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The cultural mandate was meant not only for Adam and Eve, but for Christians today, too. It still stands as God’s directive for the stewardship of his creation.

spring_cover_2015The Houston- based Prison Entrepreneurship Program looks at convicted criminals as if they were “raw metal in the hands of a blacksmith – crude, formless, and totally moldable.” PEP puts prisoners through a rigorous character training and business skills regimen to prepare them for a productive, even flourishing, re-entry to life after incarceration. Ray Nothstine took part in PEP’s “pitch day” presentations where prisoners test their start-up dreams before a panel of business people and investors. He describes his day at Cleveland Correctional Facility near Houston in the main feature in the Spring 2015 issue of Religion & Liberty and contributes an interview with Bert Smith, PEP chief executive.

Also in this issue, Rev. Gregory Jensen reviews Free Market Environmentalism for the Next Generation, a new book by Terry Anderson and Donald Leal. Rev. Jensen reminds us to pay attention to policy decisions that can help or hinder “our pursuit of the ethical goals that so many of our religious leaders recommend.”

“In the Liberal Tradition” profiles Isabel Paterson (1886-1961) a journalist, philosopher, and literary critic who is credited with being “one of the three women (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand) who launched the libertarian movement in America.” Not enough people remember her today even though her 1943 book, The God of the Machine, was highly influential on its publication. You’ll want to read this profile, and learn why Paterson had a major falling out with Rand. (more…)

TPP-CountriesYesterday the U.S. Senate voted 92-0 to approve an amendment which adds a religious liberty provision to the overall negotiating objectives outlined in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The addition would require the Administration to take religious freedom into account whenever negotiating trade agreements within the partnership.

During a floor speech on the amendment earlier tonight, Senator James Lankford’s (R-OK) said, “Our greatest export is our American value. The dignity of each person, hard work, innovation, and liberty. That’s what we send around the world. It has the greatest impact.” Lankford added,
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Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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rohingya refugeesGreed. Lust. Corruption. Thirst for power. A wretched lack of compassion for human life. That is Myanmar.

Myanmar is home to 1.3 million Rohingya, a religious and cultural minority in what was once known as Burma. The Myanmar government staunchly refuses to recognize the citizenship of the Rohingya, claiming they are all illegal immigrants of neighboring Bangladesh, despite the fact that many Rohingya families have lived exclusively in Myanmar for generations. This lack of citizenship makes the Rohingya vulnerable to trafficking, forced labor, and poverty. (more…)

united-states-constitutionThe U.S. Constitution is arguably one of the most important legal documents in the history of the world. Because of this venerated status, though, many people assume that you need to be a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and an expert on recondite Constitutional law to understand how to read the document, much less interpret the Constitution. But as Michael Stokes Paulsen says, reading and understanding the Constitution is not an especially complicated intellectual exercise. It takes lawyers, judges, and law professors to turn it into something difficult and convoluted.

“Ninety-five percent of constitutional law amounts to deciding how to go about the enterprise of reading and applying the Constitution itself,” adds Paulsen. In the first of a two part series for Public Discourse, he outlines five broad categories of techniques one might use for interpretation.
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tppThe controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backed by many Republicans and President Obama, hit a snag Tuesday when key Democrats spoke out against the agreement.

What exactly is the TPP? It is a free trade agreement with 12 nations (including China and Japan) that purports to increase economic growth, jobs and free trade. However, there is much opposition in Congress.

Leading opponents of the measure in the Senate have pushed for additional protections for U.S. workers and address concerns about alleged foreign-currency manipulation by China that makes American products too expensive.

“It’s a betrayal of workers and small business in our communities to pass fast track, to put it on the president’s desk without enforcement  … and without helping workers,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told The Washington Post.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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A meeting in Managua – liberation theology 30 years later
Alejandro Bermúdez, Catholic News Agency

If the Soviet bloc wasn’t the mother of liberation theology, it was certainly a sinister stepmother, enlisting Catholics in a geopolitical cause and inviting them to sell their souls for funding and support.

Do Churches Fail the Poor?
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Last week two prominent Americans — an eminent social scientist and the president of the United States — decided to answer the question: How have America’s churches failed the poor?

American nuns, Chinese booze and religious persecution
Mark L. Rienzi, USA Today

Forcing Chinese Muslims to sell alcohol and smokes is an obvious ploy to hurt Islam.

What If Everybody Didn’t Have to Work to Get Paid
David R. Wheeler, The Atlantic

Advocates say that a guaranteed basic income can lead to more creative, fulfilling work. The question is how to fund it.

I attended an informative — and very moving — presentation yesterday on the humanitarian relief effort underway in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The talk was given here in Grand Rapids by Mark Ohanian, director of programs for International Orthodox Christian Charities (see my podcast with him here). What I learned was that despite the massive scale of human suffering, the crisis is likely to get much worse. Given the gains that the Islamic State is making in Iraq, that might be a safe prediction.

Ohanian said that the relief effort in Syria, where IOCC works alongside Red Crescent and other principal agencies, is made more difficult and expensive because of the breakdown in Syrian society and the need to import so much of the supplies. The video above shows how entrepreneurial Syrians are already starting businesses in the refugee camps to help themselves.

If you want to offer direct help the refugees, you can make a donation on the IOCC site here. IOCC, in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, serves all refugees regardless of religion or ethnicity. (more…)

barcode traffickiingHuman trafficking is a huge problem, morally, economically and legally. One reason it’s so hard to fight it is that it’s a hidden crime. Largely gone are the days when prostitutes hang out on darkened streets. Instead, a girl or woman is pimped out via the internet. Even more difficult, traffickers often use the Deep Web:

The term “Deep Web,” refers to the “deeper” parts of the web that are accessible, but are considered hard to find because they aren’t indexed by regular search engines. Information on the Deep Web can be indexed, but only using complex search algorithms that have the ability to break down certain barriers.

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wimbledon_tuesdayTwenty years ago, religious freedom was an issue that almost everyone agreed on. But more recently, support for religious liberty has tended to divide the country along political lines. Most conservatives still consider it the “first freedom” while many liberals believe religious freedom is less important than advancing a progressive agenda and promoting their understanding of “equality.”

What gets lost in the discussion, as Jordan Lorence of Alliance Defending Freedom notes, is that sooner or later everyone benefits from religious liberty protections:
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