help meHuman trafficking is increasingly gaining public awareness. Law enforcement, social workers, first responders – all are beginning to receive training regarding human trafficking. And that’s all very good.

But it’s hardly enough.

It is much easier to help a person in a high-risk situation avoid trafficking than to try and put a human being back together after they’ve been brutalized by traffickers. Individuals, communities, church and charitable organizations must all learn what situations in their own areas put people at risk for trafficking, and work to correct those situations. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 19, 2015
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Would Today’s Proverbs 31 Woman Do Multi-Level Marketing?
Hannah Anderson, Christianity Today

How companies appeal to family values and female empowerment.

13 Charts Measuring Economic Freedom Around the Globe
Thaleigha Rampersad, The Daily Signal

The Daily Signal pulled together 13 charts from this year’s Index of Economic Freedom to reveal some of the most interesting facts and figures.

Nutella Founder Dies, Said Secret of Success Was Our Lady of Lourdes
Zelda Caldwell, Aleteia

Devout Catholic took employees to visit site of Marian apparitions.

God, America, and Rights: How Chris Cuomo Gets Rights Wrong
Carson Holloway, Public Discourse

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo recently argued that rights are a simply matter of “collective agreement and compromise.” His remarks are evidence of a desire on the part of America’s intellectual and cultural elite to divorce America from its traditional political identity and from the notion that politics has any connection to God.

When Botswana gained independence from the British in 1966, the nation was the third-poorest in the world. Then, for three decades it was the world’s fastest growing economy. Today it’s in the top 15 richest countries in Africa.

What accounts for the miraculous turnaround? As the Daily Signal notes, the country embraced democracy, free markets, and the rule of law.

20111108diggingaditchOver the past two decades there has been an increased interest and promotion of the Biblical meaning of work and the Christian view of vocation. Many groups have contributed to this revival, including the Acton Institute (last year we launched Oikonomia, a blog at Patheos’ Faith and Work Channel, dedicated to providing resources specific to the intersection of faith, work, and economics).

While the faith and work conversation has been exceedingly fruitful, it has also been rather limited to what can be described as “knowledge workers.” As Comment’s Brian Dijkema says,

[W]e fall into the trap of taking Andy Crouch’s Culture Making and equating it with a baptized version of Richard Florida’s “creative class.” We get excited about those who open local coffee shops or become journalists or start a non-profit or (fill in the blank). But what do our “faith and work” books have to say to people who work on the line at a Ford assembly plant, or to medical assistants who take care of the elderly? Will landscapers and receptionists see themselves in the “work” we’re talking about? Would anyone who has to wear coveralls to work feel comfortable at our “faith and work” conferences?

And even when we bring skilled labour—or the completely different category of menial labour—into the faith and work conversation, we sometimes focus on the parts of those jobs that fit with creativity and fulfillment. It’s nice to say “it’s so good that you care for our elderly,” but it’s much harder to talk about having to change colostomy bags, or how you smell when you’re done cleaning out a chicken barn. Yet this work takes the waking hours of many people—perhaps even the majority—in North America and certainly the world. Leaving this work out of the conversation not only leaves too many on the outside, but unwittingly communicates a certain hopelessness, as if joy and satisfaction—indeed the LORD’s satisfaction—cannot be found in this type of work.

Several years ago, philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff made a similar point:
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Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg joined Al Kresta on Ave Maria Radio’s Kresta in the Afternoon on Tuesday to discuss the interesting public relations dilemma of Pope Francis: on the one hand, it is alleged that faithful Catholics may be “checking out” of his papacy due to his perceived liberalism on economic and social issues. On the other hand, the honeymoon period that Francis enjoyed with the media and left-leaning Catholics may be coming to an end as it becomes apparent that he will not be making major changes to longstanding teachings of the Catholic Church.

To listen to the full interview, use the audio player below.

In the following clip from the PovertyCure series, Doug Seebeck explains how U.S. agricultural subsidies have significant negative consequences both at home and abroad — misaligning human action, distorting market signals, and diminishing opportunities for the least of these.

Haiti used to be self-sufficient in rice. Now they get all their rice from the U.S. This is what we do to Africa. We subsidize our agriculture. We overproduce. Then we ship it as aid with a handshake, and we put them out of business. We disempower them. But you’re also putting the U.S. small farmer out of business. And it gets bigger and bigger and you’re squeezing out free enterprise….

How do I best love my neighbor in this rapidly integrating world…so that everybody has the ability to have what I have? It doesn’t mean we give it away. It means allowing them to succeed.

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Are you now or have you ever been a Randian?

Are you now or have you ever been a Randian?

Over at The Stream, John Zmirak takes on a new McCarthyism which he says smears small-government Catholics as libertarian heretics. He compares the “outrageous instances of red-baiting” during the 1950s to the current practice by some leftist Catholics who tar conservative opponents indiscriminately as devotees of Ayn Rand, whether or not they have actual evidence of such sympathies. Zmirak:

The idea of a detailed, consistent, morally binding body of economic and political policies imposed by the Church on believers on pain of sin is nonsense on red velvet stilts. Elsewhere I argue the point at some length without going to an opposite extreme. Broad principles that inform our life and our politics, such as the dignity of the individual and the family, solidarity, subsidiarity and all the rest? Absolutely. A political platform? Absolutely not.

Nor has the Church ever made such a claim. Most Catholics with any knowledge of history have learned to forgive and forget individual outrageous statements by popes from the past, fully aware that the charism of infallibility is narrowly defined and almost never invoked — twice at least, eight times at most, and never on issues of economics or politics. Catholics are not obliged to support book-burning just because Gregory XVI did.

Rand-baiting is being used today as red-baiting was in the past, by those who support a deeply immoral institution, to silence those who object to it by equating them with extremists. What is that deeply immoral institution? The bloated, secularist, immoral and coercive governments that rule over most Western countries, including the United States.

Read “‘Rand-Baiters’ Target Conservative Catholics” by John Zmirak at The Stream.

A brick factory in India

A brick factory in India

International Justice Mission [IJM] works around the world to bolster rule of law, fight corruption and help human trafficking victims. In India, human trafficking – both sex trafficking and labor trafficking – is rampant. IJM announced that government officials (who had been trained by and working with IJM) were able to free 333 people from labor trafficking at a brick factory last week.

They [the trafficking victims] lived in tiny, thatched-roof huts. Each couple was responsible to make 2,000 bricks a week; children as young as 12 worked alongside their parents to help meet this enormous quota. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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Pope Francis: The blood of murdered Copts a “witness that cries out”
Vatican Radio

Pope Francis on Monday denounced the murder of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIL militants in Libya. The Islamist terrorist organization released a video of the killings on Sunday.

Frank Wolf Calls for Safe Haven for Mideast Christians
Timothy C. Morgan and Ruth Moon, Christianity Today

Former congressman offers six-point plan. But killing continues as ISIL-linked terrorists behead 21 Christians in Libya.

What ISIS Really Wants
Graeme Wood, The Atlantic

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

These Letters Offer a Window into George Washington’s Views on Religious Liberty
Daniel Dreisbach , Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

We live in a time when religious liberty is more threatened than at any time in living memory. While courts and commentators turn frequently to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison for insights on religious liberty and the constitutional role of religion in public life, largely ignored is the counsel of our first president, George Washington.

Blog author: dpahman
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
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Image credit: Randall Munroe. Image linked to the surprisingly prescient source.

In his otherwise excellent work The Problem of Poverty, the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper, as a man of his time (the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), commended the merits of colonialism as if there were not already people in other lands with their own calling to “till the earth” that God had made. While unfortunate for his time and context, recent events may open up a case in which colonization may be the Christian duty Kuyper believed it to be: Mars.

“[W]e must never,” writes Kuyper,

as long as we value God’s Word, oppose colonization. God’s earth, if cultivated, offers food enough for more than double the millions who now inhabit it. Is it not simply human folly to remain so piled up in a few small places on this planet that men must crawl away into cellars and slums, while at the same time there are other places a hundred times larger than our native land, awaiting the plow and the sickle, or on which herds of the most valuable cattle wander without an owner?

To be generous, we might say that at least Kuyper wasn’t exactly an alarmist with regards to the idea of overpopulation. But that would be quite generous.

In reality, that land was the home and those herds were the livelihood of real people, made just as much in the image of God as Western Europeans like the Dutch.

But what if there was a truly uninhabited land, just waiting for human cultivation to serve for the needs of others and the glory of God?

The present-day Dutch believe that Mars is just such a place. According to NBC news, (more…)