senior-prom-gameIt’s prom season, the time of year when plenty of high school kids eagerly anticipate an invitation to the year’s biggest formal event. It’s no different for the member organizations of religious shareholder activist groups As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Both groups have their tuxedos pressed and dresses tailored for this summer’s highly anticipated climate encyclical from Pope Francis, the progressive left’s version of netting either Kate Upton or Ryan Gosling as prom dates.

In the meantime, ICCR and AYS – who, quite frankly, don’t seem to really care what Pope Francis or any of his predecessors have to say about any topic unless it fits progressive dogma – continue their crusade against fossil fuels while they await the Pope’s invitation to the big dance.

It seems both groups wish to hobble corporations in the name of global warming. Just last month, for example, ICCR released its latest paper, “Invested in Change: Faith-Consistent Investing in a Climate-Challenged World.” From the document’s Executive Summary: (more…)

32045208“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

That line was written in 1906 by Evelyn Beatrice Hall to describe Voltaire’s attitude towards a fellow rival French philosopher. For the next hundred years that line was often quoted to express a particularly American ideal of toleration and the importance of free speech.

But something changed over the past few decades. Certain offensive speech has been deemed not only utterly indefensible, but excludable from First Amendment protections. A prime example was found on Twitter a few days ago when Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor, law school graduate, and son of the New York governor, wrote that “hate speech is excluded from protection.”

That claim, of course, is nonsense. As legal scholar Eugene Volokh says, “Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.”

There are forms of unprotected speech, Volokh notes, but it has nothing to do with “hate speech”:
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weeping statueIf one decides to destroy the American Dream, there are a few steps that would be necessary.

  1. Put Big Government in charge. The average American can’t figure out his or her own dreams, let alone what it would take to make them a reality.
  2. Tell Americans that without the government, the American Dream is hopeless.
  3. Produce a lengthy document about the American Dream. Leave out the word “freedom,” let alone the idea of freedom.
  4. Let people know that “freedom” (without actually using the word) is quite harmful. Don’t worry, thought, Big Government will protect you.

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In a new video from Made to Flourish, Tim Keller offers practical guidance to ministers and churches on how they can better disciple their people when it comes to work and stewardship:

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 15, 2015
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Texas Senate OKs bill allowing clergy to refuse gay marriage
Will Weissert, Associated Press

The Texas Senate voted overwhelmingly on Monday to allow clergy members to refuse performing marriages that violate their religious beliefs, as top Republicans move to further shield the nation’s largest conservative state from a possible US Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.

Push to End Prison Rapes Loses Earlier Momentum
Deborah Sontag, New York Times

With May 15 marking the second annual reporting deadline, advocates for inmates and half of the members of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, a bipartisan group charged with drafting the standards, say the plodding pace of change has disheartened them despite pockets of progress.

Modest Conscience Protections in Louisiana Elicit Hysteria
Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

The Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act is timely, necessary, and well-justified. If passed, it will help preserve the State of Louisiana’s commitment to freedoms of conscience, religion, and expression.

Can Economists Measure Society’s Self-Absorption?
Marc Bain, The Atlantic

Though it’s hard to define and record, the amount of money spent worldwide on vanity purchases is larger than the GDP of Germany, and it’s growing much faster than other markets.

poor-working-class-family-after-the-days-workCapitalism is routinely blamed for rampant materialism and consumerism, accused of setting society’s sights only on material needs and wants, and living little time, attention, or energy for much else. But what, if not basic food, shelter, and survival, was humanity so preoccupied with before the Industrial Revolution?

As Steve Horwitz argues in a preview of his forthcoming book, Hayek’s Modern Family, our newfound liberty and accelerated activity in the Economy of Creative Service has actually freed us to devote more to other spheres of stewardship, not less:
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Prof. Harry Veryser stars in a new video from ISI that explores some of the lessons about private property, rights, responsibilities, and stewardship that can be gleaned from the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

For a much more in-depth exposition of the connections between and lessons from Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, check out John Mueller’s Redeeming Economics (ISI, 2010). For more, check out a slate of review essays on Mueller’s book published in Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology, including a piece by me, “The Economies of Divine and Human Love.”

lexrexFor much of human history, the dominant legal principle was rex lex—“the king is law.” In the 1600s, though, that view was subverted, mostly by Christian thinkers like Samuel Rutherford, who claimed lex rex—“the law is king.” Since then most Western governments have adopted the principle of that the rule of law, rather than the arbitrary diktats of government officials, should govern a nation.

Increasingly, though, the principle of rule of law is being replaced, as Bruce Frohnen says, by “rule by law.” The idea is that since the final power to decide must reside somewhere, whoever has that ability to decide is sovereign (a prime example is the concept of “judicial supremacy”). This shift from rule of law to rule by law (or rule by quasi-law) has profound effects on both our freedom and the legitimacy of the law itself:

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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.