??????????????????????????Amidst the hubbub surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the owners of Memories Pizza, a local family-owned restaurant, have been the first to bear the wrath of the latest conformity mob.

We knew they’d come, of course. “They” being fresh off the sport of strong-arming boutique bakeries and shuttering the shop doors of grandmother florists (all in the name of “social justice,” mind you).

The outrage is rather predictable these days, and not just on issues as hot and contentious as this. A company does something we don’t like and we respond not through peaceful discourse or by taking our services elsewhere, but through direct abuse and assault on the party in question (self-righteous tweets included). When Patton Oswalt points out these instincts in defense of an anti-semitic comic, the mob may temper its tone for a season. But alas, there are small businesses to bully, and this is about sexuality, an idol well worth the blood. (more…)

Profits-Down“Someday this will all be yours,” I said, waving my hand across the aisles of the Piggly Wiggly. I was trying to ingratiate myself with my boss, the general manager for the biggest grocery store in Clarksville, Texas. He just smirked and shook his head. “For every dollar in sales, how much do you think this stores earns in profit?”

At the time I was taking high school economics and considered myself something of a financial savant because I knew the difference between stocks and bonds. Still, I was in full-on toady mode and thought it best to undershoot what I believed the true profit margin to be. I went with a safe number that I knew must be far too low. “About forty cents?” I asked.

“One cent,” he said. “For every dollar we put in the cash register we keep about one penny in profit.”

I was stunned, both by the skimpy profit margin and by my astoundingly shoddy ability at financial estimation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone. A poll taken last year asked a random sample of American adults, “Just a rough guess, what percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average company makes after taxes?” The average response was 36 percent.

As Mark J. Perry explains, the public’s estimates are way, way off:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, April 6, 2015
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The FAQs: Terrorist Attack In Kenya Targets Christians
Joe Carter, TGC

An attack on a Garissa University College leaves 147 dead and more than 80 injured.

The Religious Freedom Debate Explained in 90 Seconds
Alex Anderson, The Daily Signal

Lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas have revised language in two controversial religious freedom bills. Originally, both bills were intended to prohibit state and local government from infringing on someone’s religious beliefs without a compelling reason. Here’s what you need to know about the debate in 90 seconds.

Improve the economy, poverty reduction will follow
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

What does this mean from a poverty perspective? It means that we can expect a few more years of elevated poverty rates unless the economy improves and more Americans join the labor force.

Making Religion the Problem
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Right now, if you look around the United States, you’ll see a landscape in which religious practice has declined and traditional religious institutions have weakened relative to where things stood sixty years go.

Acton Institute President and Co-Founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico was a guest this afternoon on Your World With Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel to discuss new research that indicates declining religious commitment in the United States and growing Muslim populations worldwide, with the projection that Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2100. The full interview is available via the video player below.

Rembrandt_The_Three_Crosses_1653In his newly translated primer on the book of Matthew, Reformed pastor Cornelis Vonk writes powerfully about the monumental moment of Jesus’ death.

Summarizing the heart of the Gospel and its profound implications for human freedom, Vonk reminds us of the lasting power of God’s incredible sacrifice.

“Death did not overcome Jesus,” Vonk writes, “for he was so willing to lay down his life himself.”

Shortly before dying, Jesus is forsaken by God. This happened when, in addition, an hour-long darkness had spread across the whole (Jewish?) land….We do not know the cause of this darkness, but we do know who caused it: God must have done that.

With that darkness he showed something incomprehensible to our understanding. What was that? That at the end of his life on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ bore the full wrath of God, his wrath against the entire human race. And for what purpose did this happen? So that everyone who one day wanted to enter into eternal life would remain pardoned from condemnation under that divine wrath. How could this be? By Jesus functioning as the perfect substitute who bore that hellish condemnation. Jesus did not need to do that for himself. He had never thought or done anything bad, nor had he been conceived and born in sin. Nevertheless we know that he was condemned by God, forsaken by God.

He said so himself when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 46).

…But Jesus did not die as everybody else up to that point had died. They had to die. But Jesus placed his own life in God’s hand. Matthew writes that he released “his spirit,” that is, his breath. John writes that he “surrendered” the spirit. That word is even more clear. Death did not overcome Jesus, for he was so willing to lay down his life himself. He could do that (John 10:17–18). He had the power to do that, the divine power. And as man, or we say, “according to his human nature,” Jesus had sufficient strength to speak with a loud voice.

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Series Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).
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Hilarion

Hilarion

In a March 29 discussion on Russian TV with a government official, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk decried the attacks against Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, describing these attacks as a genocidal campaign that until recently in international forums and mass media have been “hushed up as if non-existent; it was simply ignored.” The director of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church said in the interview that “now we have found ourselves in a situation when the whole Middle East is affected by this blight of terrorism, when the fire of civil war and inter-ethnic confrontation is blazing, when Christians are methodically eliminated, that is, when the genocide of Christians is raging. Let us call things by their proper names.” The Russian bishop said he was grateful that the West has at last paid attention to the plight of Christians but asked: ” .. is it not late?” More from the interview:

Only after the ISIS militants began terrible mass executions of Christians the world community began speaking about this problem out loud. It happened only after the number of Christians in Iraq decreased by times and almost no Christians remained in Lybia and after the Christian community in Egypt had a hard time. The world community has at last begun speaking out against the background of general instability and uncertainty, against the background of the Arab Spring developments, against the background of what is going on now in Syria, where militants in the occupied territories are systematically eliminating Christians and Christian shrines. (more…)

india treesIn many parts of the world, the deadliest words are, “it’s a girl.” Abortion and infanticide are common when those words are heard. If the girl manages to live, she is considered a burden and/or a slave.

One region in India is changing this attitude.

Villages like Piplantri in Rajasthan state of India have a story quite different from the more popular, abused and ill-treated ‘India’s daughter’.

Here, every time a girl child is born, 111 trees are planted in celebration and taken care of.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, April 3, 2015
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Indiana Shows the Left Has No Concept of Freedom
Robert Tracinski, The Federalist

Much more important are the basic principles that are being invoked to argue against the Indiana law. These arguments set out to define religious freedom out of existence, and they end up defining all freedom out of existence.

Indiana ‘Fix’ on Religious Liberty Law Creates Bad Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Law
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

At a press conference in the Indiana State House earlier this morning, Senate President Pro Tem David Long,R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced a proposed “fix” to their religious liberty law. The religious liberty law is good policy. It needs no “fix.”

Is the “inequality” issue a cover for something else?
Scott Sumner, EconLog

Consider the following thought experiment. The Democrats take control of Congress and the Presidency. With more than 60 seats in the Senate, they can do as they like. Do they go after the root cause of inequality in income?

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050
Pew Research

Why Muslims are rising fastest and the unaffiliated are shrinking as a share of the world’s population.

open-bible-empty-pewsTwenty years ago, mainline Protestant denominations supported legislation that protected religious freedoms. Today, those same denominations have decided that advancing the sexual revolution is more important than defending the conscience of their fellow Christians.

In an op-ed for the Washington Times, Nicholas G. Hahn III notes how churches that join in sexual-revolution politicking are finding they are preaching to empty pews:
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