cross supreme courtIn today’s Christian Post, Breakpoint’s John Stonestreet says it is “bogus” to claim “others have it worse” when it comes to religious persecution as a way of denying claims of the loss of religious liberty here in the West.

Now, let me first state the obvious: Nothing happening here or elsewhere in the West can remotely be compared to what Christians in the Islamic world undergo on a daily basis. Our first and second response should be to pray for them, and our third response should be to do whatever we can to draw attention to their plight.

At the same time, as Rod Dreher has helpfully pointed out, the ‘people in this country who fear and loathe Christians’ are not beneath using what happened in Libya as an ‘argument-ender’ when Christians complain about infringements on religious freedom. Their response is in essence, ‘Get back to me when they’re chopping Christian heads off in Times Square, then we’ll talk.

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og_apple_watch_editionOver at Think Christian today I examine some of the moral implications surrounding the announced release of the new Apple Watch.

In the background of my thinking was a TEDxPuget Sound talk by Simon Sinek that focuses on identifying the “why” of organizations. It’s important to ask the “why” of our consumption as well, which is why I want to know of moral justifications for purchasing something like a $10,000 gold Apple Watch.

Please pass along your suggestions in the comments section.

HTFinal CoverToday is the last day you can get a free copy of Acton’s latest monograph, “A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking” by Elise Hilton. Visit Amazon before midnight to download. For more information about the monograph and human trafficking, visit Vulnerable.World.

Pope Francis has called human trafficking “an open wound on the body of contemporary society.” This monograph discusses both the economic and moral fall-out of modern-day slavery.

Isabel Paterson

Isabel Paterson

“If there were just one gift you could choose, but nothing barred, what would it be? We wish you then your own wish: you name it. Our is liberty, now and forever.”

Isabel Paterson came to influence the likes of Ayn Rand and William F. Buckley, but her early life was rough and tumble. One of nine children, Paterson had only two years of formal education but loved to read. Her father had a difficult time making a living and was constantly uprooting his family in search of work. However, Paterson credited her early life for teaching her self-sufficiency and hard work.

As a teen, she moved to Calgary and began a career as a journalist. It was in Vancouver that she found her voice, writing about the changing role of women both in the family and in the world, and chiding those with servants for their snobbish attitudes towards those who worked for them. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, March 13, 2015
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ISIS destroys historical church in Mosul: Iraqi official
Daily Sabah

An Iraqi government official has accused the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) of destroying a historical church in Mosul early on Monday.

Government and Societal Action Critical for Fighting Human Trafficking
Emily Runge, The Daily Signal

“We can change all the laws we want—but until we change the attitudes and respect for human beings, all this work is for nothing,” said Cindy McCain, head of the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council, at a recent panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation.

Millennials Want Economic Opportunity, Not Redistribution
Emily Weithman, The Federalist

Millennials are sick of being told to sacrifice our dreams and potential advancement for that of other people whom government picks.

Kenya’s Catholic Church to fight hunger by farming its vast land reserves
Fredrick Nzwili, Religion News Service

Drying livestock carcasses and anguished faces of hungry women and children have become a common feature here as droughts increase due to climate change.

In a meeting with young historians last fall, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the annexation of Crimea (RT described this delicately as “the newly returned” Crimea) and reminded them that “Prince Vladimir [Sviatoslavich the Great] was baptized, and then he converted Russia. The original baptismal font of Russia is there.” Matthew Dal Santo, a fellow at the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, uses a public exhibition of art in Moscow (Orthodox Rus. My History: The Rurikids) to explain in The National Interest how Russia and Ukraine hold intertwined histories rooted in Orthodox Rus’.

“Faulty as history, Rurikids’ defiant expression of offended Russian exceptionalism is nonetheless more than a pose,” Dal Santo writes. “The West’s doggedly legalistic construction of the crisis has consistently underestimated how much Ukraine means to Putin—and a substantial proportion of the Russian public—as well as the high costs Russia is prepared to pay to keep it out of the West’s orbit.” More from his article: (more…)

20130703_net_neutrality.436xWhat are we to think of net neutrality?

No, seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question—I just can’t remember which side I support. I’ve written about net neutrality at least a half-dozen times (including an explainer piece) and yet for the life of me I can never remember which is the most pro-freedom, pro-market side. Is it opposing neutrality, supporting neutrality, being neutral on neutrality? Opposed, I think. I’m pretty sure it’s opposed.

Perhaps that type of confusion is why so many religious leaders take the wrong side. As Nicholas G. Hahn III notes, many men and women of the cloth gave net neutrality a blessing even though it’s an unlikely assault on religious liberty:
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Blog author: jballor
Thursday, March 12, 2015
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Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. First Things, whose first publisher Richard John Neuhaus was a founding ECT member, is hosting a variety of reflections on ECT’s two decades, and in its latest issue published a new ECT statement, “The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage.”

Abraham KuyperThe first ECT statement was put out in 1994. But as recalled by Charles W. Colson, another founding member of ECT, the foundations of evangelical and Roman Catholic dialogue go back much further. The Dutch Reformed theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was a major influence on the thinking of Colson, and as Colson argues, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which created such controversy, was launched actually by Kuyper a century ago. It is not new.”

Colson made this bold claim in a speech in 1998, at a conference at Calvin College (co-sponsored by the Acton Institute), on the legacies of two great modern representatives of these traditions, Kuyper and Leo XIII.
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L07-444050The way that a culture understands the nature of God shapes its conception of man, reason, and society, says Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg. Though this presents enormous challenges for the Islamic world, it also has significant implications for the sustainability of Western civilization:

In 1992, the political scientist Samuel Huntington ignited a debate among scholars of politics and international affairs when he proposed that civilizational differences would be an increased source of conflict in a post-Cold War world. Widely seen as a competitor to the “end of history” thesis proposed by Francis Fukuyama, Huntington’s argument was developed in the pages of Foreign Affairs before being expounded in book form in 1996. It acquired more traction—and criticism—in the wake of 9/11 and Islamic jihadism’s subsequent expansion across the globe.

Leaving aside the specifics of Huntington’s thesis, his very use of the word “civilization” was one point of criticism. The expression implies that some cultures are more advanced than others. In an age when many are in thrall to various versions of moral and cultural relativism, this doesn’t go over well.

Read more . . .

Cardinal Peter Turkson

Cardinal Peter Turkson

There has been much speculation regarding Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on ecology. Will he side with those who raise the alarm on climate change? Is he going to choose a moderate approach? Will the encyclical call for changes to help the poor?

Commonweal’s Michael Peppard seems to think Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Ghanaian prelate and President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has lifted the curtain on the pope’s upcoming encyclical. Cardinal Turkson gave a lecture last week, entitled, “Integral ecology and the horizon of hope: concern for the poor and for creation in the ministry of Pope Francis” which seemed to do more than simply hint at the themes of the ecology encyclical. As Peppard said, Cardinal Turkson “might well have titled it, An outline of the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical.” (more…)