Category : Politics in General

(1st Things) Darel Paul–Culture War as Class War

Back when Massachusetts was the only state in the country to recognize ­s­ame-sex marriage, Chai Feldblum, who later served as commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under both Presidents Obama and Trump, observed that religious liberty and LGBT rights were trapped in a “zero-sum game.” In her view, any pretense to mutually beneficial compromise between the two is impossible, and state neutrality between them a charade. As long as religious conservatives hold same-sex sexual behavior to be morally suspect while cultural liberals hold it to be natural and moral, every action and inaction of the state is a choice to recognize one side against the other. While classical liberals may want to wish this conflict away, it cannot be done. Appeals to First Amendment rights to religious liberty run immediately into Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection. And as the great theorist of class struggle Karl Marx himself observed, “between equal rights force decides.”

Culture wars are never strictly cultural. They are always economic and political struggles as well. Elites rule through an interlocking political-­economic-cultural system. The mainstream media certifies whose political ideas are respectable and whose are extremist. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, academia, and white-shoe professional firms are all part of the postindustrial “knowledge economy” that allocates economic rewards. As American elites become increasingly integrated and culturally ­homogenous, they begin to treat their cultural rivals as subordinate classes. The same thing happened nearly a century ago to the rural and small-town Protestants whom H. L. Mencken derided as the “booboisie.” Many would like to see it happen again, this time to anyone who challenges the dogmas of diversity and progressivism that have become suspiciously universal among the richest and most powerful Americans, dominating the elite institutions they control. If cultural traditionalists want to survive, they must not only acknowledge but embrace the class dimensions of the culture war.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Sexuality, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Vanguard) Nigerian Anglican Church Frowns At Buhari’s Executive Order On Seizure of Assets

The Church of Nigeria, Diocese of Enugu (Anglican Communion) weekend expressed concerns over the recently signed Executive Order No.6 of 2018 by the Federal Government, saying it should not be used against perceived enemies or opposition.

The executive order empowers the Federal Government to seize suspicious assets connected with corruption and other relevant offences.

The church noted with dismay the hasty nature of the investigations and trial of five Christians over alleged killing of a herdsman by a Yola High Court and their conviction and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the five condemned Christians were not executed….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(NYT Op-ed) Akhil Reed Amar–A Liberal’s Case for new Supreme Court Justice Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

In 2016, I strongly supported Hillary Clinton for president as well as President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. But today, with the exception of the current justices and Judge Garland, it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh. He sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the most influential circuit court) and commands wide and deep respect among scholars, lawyers and jurists.

Judge Kavanaugh, who is 53, has already helped decide hundreds of cases concerning a broad range of difficult issues. Good appellate judges faithfully follow the Supreme Court; great ones influence and help steer it. Several of Judge Kavanaugh’s most important ideas and arguments — such as his powerful defense of presidential authority to oversee federal bureaucrats and his skepticism about newfangled attacks on the property rights of criminal defendants — have found their way into Supreme Court opinions.

Except for Judge Garland, no one has sent more of his law clerks to clerk for the justices of the Supreme Court than Judge Kavanaugh has. And his clerks have clerked for justices across the ideological spectrum.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Senate, Supreme Court

(NYT)“What? I’m pregnant. I’m still a man. You have questions? Come talk to me. You have a problem with it? Don’t be in my life.”

Paetyn, an impish 1-year-old, has two fathers. One of them gave birth to her.

As traditional notions of gender shift and blur, parents and children like these are redefining the concept of family.

Paetyn’s father Tanner, 25, is a trans man: He was born female but began transitioning to male in his teens, and takes the male hormone testosterone.

“I was born a man in a female body,” he said.

His partner and Paetyn’s biological father is David, 35, a gay man.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Life Ethics, Media, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology

(WSJ) Adam O’Neal–Taking an honest look Inside the Christian group to which Amy Coney Barrett’s belongs

Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court—a prospect that thrills many conservatives. A former Antonin Scalia clerk and Notre Dame professor, Judge Barrett, 46, seems an ideal choice. Yet her religious beliefs could lead to a contentious confirmation process. Would it be a risk to pick her?

Last year President Trump nominated Ms. Barrett for a seat on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Several Democratic senators pondered whether an “orthodox Catholic” would have dual loyalties. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said during Ms. Barrett’s hearing. “That’s of concern.”

Video of Mrs. Feinstein’s religious test quickly spread, provoking outrage from thousands of Americans. Yet a New York Times news story suggested she and her colleagues hadn’t gone far enough: The nominee’s “membership in a small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise never came up at the hearing, and might have led to even more intense questioning.”

Richard Painter, a law professor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota, loved the article. He recently tweeted the link, adding his own comment on People of Praise: “A religious group in which members take an oath of loyalty to each other and are supervised by a male ‘head’ or female ‘handmaiden.’ That looks like a cult.” As nonbigots do, Mr. Painter then added, “don’t even try playing the ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ card.”

It’s easy to make People of Praise sound terrifying. Isn’t there a TV show and novel about these “handmaid” people? Do Americans really want a cultist on the Supreme Court? Despite such insinuations from “resistance” conspiracy theorists, understanding the group requires more than a couple of tweets….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Supreme Court

(GR) Looking at a New York Times Article on Free Speech Cases which begs many questions

When you apply this to other crucial First Amendment doctrines then you would find yourself defending the rights of a single baker (a traditional Christian) to decline a request to create a one-of-a-kind artistic cake celebrating a same-sex wedding rite (after offering the couple any of the standard cakes or desserts in his shop). The baker’s very narrow, faith-based refusal of this task was offensive and caused pain, yet the gay couple had many other options in the local marketplace. The baker is “the powerful” force in this legal fight?

It would also be possible to defend Catholic nuns who refused government commandments that they cooperate with efforts to provide contraceptive options to their own staff, in violations of important Catholic doctrines linked to their mission. The elderly nuns represent the “the powerful” classes in this legal fight?

This Times piece, if the goal was balance, really needed to document cases of conservative forces rising up, during the past decade or two, to DENY First Amendment freedoms to liberal people and liberal organizations. Shouldn’t we be seeing a wave of those? Are liberal voices being silence in public life (as opposed to inside private associations)?

For example, are there examples of liberal, perhaps mainline Protestant, churches and ministries being pressed to violate their doctrines, perhaps being compelled to deliver messages that violate elements of their evolving doctrines? Perhaps there are cases linked to the sanctuary movement?

I am left, once again, wondering what label to assign to contemporary people and groups that are weak in their defense of free speech, weak in their defense of freedom of association and weak in their defense of the free exercise of religion. What should fair-minded journalists call them? What should the Times team have called the powers that be on the “progressive” side of the debate (including the newspaper’s editorial-page team)?

The one label that cannot be assigned to these groups is “liberal.” That just won’t fly, in the wider context of American political thought.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NA) Adam White–Amid growing calls to break up Google, are we missing a quiet alignment between “smart” government and the universal information engine?

Google exists to answer our small questions. But how will we answer larger questions about Google itself? Is it a monopoly? Does it exert too much power over our lives? Should the government regulate it as a public utility — or even break it up?

In recent months, public concerns about Google have become more pronounced. This February, the New York Times Magazine published “The Case Against Google,” a blistering account of how “the search giant is squelching competition before it begins.” The Wall Street Journal published a similar article in January on the “antitrust case” against Google, along with Facebook and Amazon, whose market shares it compared to Standard Oil and AT&T at their peaks. Here and elsewhere, a wide array of reporters and commentators have reflected on Google’s immense power — not only over its competitors, but over each of us and the information we access — and suggested that the traditional antitrust remedies of regulation or breakup may be necessary to rein Google in.

Dreams of war between Google and government, however, obscure a much different relationship that may emerge between them — particularly between Google and progressive government. For eight years, Google and the Obama administration forged a uniquely close relationship. Their special bond is best ascribed not to the revolving door, although hundreds of meetings were held between the two; nor to crony capitalism, although hundreds of people have switched jobs from Google to the Obama administration or vice versa; nor to lobbying prowess, although Google is one of the top corporate lobbyists.

Rather, the ultimate source of the special bond between Google and the Obama White House — and modern progressive government more broadly — has been their common ethos. Both view society’s challenges today as social-engineering problems, whose resolutions depend mainly on facts and objective reasoning. Both view information as being at once ruthlessly value-free and yet, when properly grasped, a powerful force for ideological and social reform. And so both aspire to reshape Americans’ informational context, ensuring that we make choices based only upon what they consider the right kinds of facts — while denying that there would be any values or politics embedded in the effort.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

AS Haley on the Ongoing South Carolina Episcopal Church litigation mess–“O, What a Tangled Web We Weave . . .”

Thus two of the Justices viewed this case as one in which the civil courts should “defer” to the “ecclesiastical authorities” — even though South Carolina is a “neutral principles” State, in which “deference” has no role! — while the third reaches his result based “strictly applying neutral principles of law.” Two of them simply “reverse” the decision below (and one only in part), while only Justice Hearn declares the whole kit and caboodle to belong to her own denomination.

The first two Justices would thus have overruled the leading South Carolina neutral principles case, All Saints Parish Waccamaw v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, but two votes do not suffice for that. They would have required a third vote to overrule that decision, and they never obtained that third vote. So the neutral principles doctrine of All Saints Waccamaw stands unchanged.

Nor did Justice Hearn get any other Justice to buy into her “constructive trust” rationale (unless Justice Pleicones may be said to have done so by “joining” in her opinion). But that was not a ground urged on appeal by ECUSA or its rump diocese — so Justice Hearn gratuitously inserted her views on an issue that was not properly before the Court.

Finally, only two of the Justices (Hearn and Beatty) mentioned Camp Christopher — the retreat property that belongs not to any one parish, but to the Diocese itself. The Dennis Canon does not apply to the property of a diocese, and so it cannot be used to transfer ownership. For Justice Hearn, “deference” requires that result, while for Chief Justice Beatty, the result follows from the fact that he cannot see how Bishop Lawrence’s Diocese is the “successor” to the diocese that owned the property before the lawsuit began. (But the Diocese did not go anywhere — it is still the same South Carolina religious corporation it always was. So how can there be any question of whether a Diocese can “succeed” itself? The Chief Justice went out on a limb, and no one joined him.)

An even bigger problem for Judge Goodstein on remand, however, is how she should regard the opinion of Justice Hearn, who belatedly recused herself due to a (presumed) perception of a conflict of interest. (You think?) Which is to say, she never should have participated in the case to begin with.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Corporations/Corporate Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government

([London] Times) Melanie Phillips– Are“safe spaces” are morphing into prejudice in reverse?

The thinking behind this [French] change was expounded in Le Monde by Mario Stasi, chairman of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism. He said race had been included in the French constitution by postwar politicians in revulsion at the ideology of the Nazis. In so doing, however, they had unwittingly promoted the cause against which they were seeking to fight. That’s because the very idea of separate races is itself a Nazi concept. It is arbitrary and scientifically meaningless. It is merely a device to promote hatred and worse.

It follows inescapably that, as a result of this change, the French are not only abolishing race but also racism. So there can be no more racial diversity targets and all the rest of the racial equality apparatus. This does not mean that the notion of prejudice will be abolished. Prejudice will be defined instead on the basis of “origins”, a neutral and surely more accurate term.

The implications of the change will be devastating for the industry of racial grievance. This can only be a good thing. The proper notion of equality, the concept which underpins western civilisation, derives from the Hebrew Bible which lays down that all people are equal because all are made in the image of God.

That means equal respect for everyone on the grounds of our common humanity. It is therefore an absolute and unconditional equality. It does not mean, however, identical treatment regardless of circumstance or behaviour: the basic condition of “victim culture”.

In our godless age, religious precepts have largely been replaced in the public sphere by ideologies such as feminism or anti-racism. These are man-made absolutes. They are therefore conditional upon which group exercises power over others to obtain privileged treatment and a free pass for bad behaviour.

That’s why “victim culture” is not about the victims of power but itself embodies an abuse of power. And that’s why, from LGBT flats to sacred wombs, we now have prejudice and discrimination in reverse.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Young Adults

Gerald Mcdermott–An Interview with Archbishop Ben Kwashi

Your grace, you were attacked the other night for the third time.  Some think the Fulani are targeting you.  Are you afraid?

I am not afraid to die, I continue to live my normal life as you have seen but I do nurse the fear that I might get killed. My sure faith, however, is that until my time is over and assignment completed nothing shall yet happen to me. So I live between these tensions.  

Archbishop, you have just released a new book, Evangelism and Mission: Biblical and Strategic Insights for the Church Today (Africa Christian Textbooks).  Why did you write this book?

I wanted to give pastors a book they could use.  No one has any business being a priest if he does not do the work of an evangelist and missionary.  That is what we are called to first and foremost, to be missionaries.  This book tells them how to do this.

In 1992 when I started as a bishop, most Anglican pastors in this part of Nigeria were doing “church” in a way that was alien to what I had learned from my own experience of planting churches.  They had no understanding of the church as a vehicle of salvation for people who did not have the gospel.  I had been teaching and doing this for years.

Once they started seeing how we do this in rural areas, there was a domino effect.  We sent teams out without cars or bicycles, with just enough money to buy transport.  They had to minister by faith, and see God provide for them.  It was crucial to their learning how God meets their needs day by day.  They learned what Anglicans should mean by “apostolic succession”—planting churches from scratch like the apostles did.

I also wanted to explain in the book why we must not make the mistake of the early African church, that lost North Africa to Islam.  That church did not do enough mission.  We must not make that mistake.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh Calls For End to Killings

Speaking further, he appealed to those involved in rustling cattle and killing their fellow men to stop the evil act.

“This appeal goes to those who steal cows, if you are one of them or you know such people, tell them to stop stealing cows.

“For you to take a cow and pay with your life is not worth it. It’s not a good exchange.

“The Second appeal goes to those who kill human beings, to stop killing Nigerians for whatever reason because if this killing does not stop, it is a bad thing that will bear no good fruit,” the Bishop said.

Also speaking on the killings, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna, Timothy Yahaya had on Friday, demanded that the killer herdsmen be labelled as a terrorist group just as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was declared as one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Washington Post) ‘What’s next?’ Muslims grapple with Supreme Court ruling that they believe redefines their place in America

“For all my life, I’ve felt that this is my country,” said [Ramy] Almansoob, a 34-year-old structural engineer who was born in the United States and raised in Yemen, returning in 2015 to the suburbs of Washington to build a new life for his family. “We all knew that the United States is the place where you have freedom, and that’s what I always had in my mind. It’s not how it used to be.”

Almansoob applied to bring his wife and daughters to the United States a few months before Trump took office in January 2017. The ban, which seemed to echo Trump’s campaign call “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” quickly followed. And after two amended versions and a number of court battles, the Supreme Court in December allowed for the temporary implementation of the ban on Yemenis, Syrians, Iranians, Somalis and Libyans.

Now the court has upheld the policy, a decision that added permanence to the sentiment among many American Muslims that the government views and treats them differently from other Americans.

“It has put me in the position of second-class citizenship,” said Abrar Omeish, a Libyan American in Virginia who recently ran for a spot on the school board in Fairfax County.

Civil rights and religious advocacy groups across the country reacted to the court’s decision Tuesday in a passionate uproar.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Supreme Court

(NPR) Southern Baptist Head Urges Evangelicals To Avoid Political Ideology Amid Crossroads

While the vice president talked about the importance of prayer and the moment he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, Greear noted that the Southern Baptists’ identity should not be intertwined with a conservative or Republican ideology.

“There are certain things on the Republican platform that Republicans have championed that evangelical Christians have identified [with]. However, we need to decouple the identity of the church from particular political platforms about which there can be disagreement,” he told Morning Edition host Rachel Martin.

Asked about those Christians who have sought to distance themselves from that political identity by shedding the “evangelical” label, Greear urges caution.

“What we need is not a change in label, what we need is a change of heart, a change in values,” he says.

Evangelicals, he says, have “got to be committed to living out the faith and listening to criticism, even from people on the outside.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Conservative Religious Leaders Are Denouncing Trump Immigration Policies

Leaders of many faiths — including JewsMainline ProtestantsMuslims and others — have spoken out consistently against the president’s immigration policies. What has changed is that now the objections are coming from faith groups that have been generally friendly to Mr. Trump.

A coalition of evangelical groups, including the National Association of Evangelicals and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, sent a letter to President Trump on June 1 pleading with him to protect the unity of families and not to close off all avenues to asylum for immigrants and refugees fleeing danger.

The Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative evangelical denomination that is the nation’s largest Protestant church, passed a resolution on Tuesday at its meeting in Dallas calling for immigration reform that maintains “the priority of family unity.” The measure called for both securing the nation’s borders, and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the country. It passed on a near unanimous vote of the thousands of delegates in the room.

“We declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the resolution said.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Vanguard) The Anglican Bishop of Bukuru–Nigeria is Boiling

According to Bukuru Bishop, “Naturally, everybody wants some level of peace and comfort. And where you find none, the whole thing will be toppling in the society. A society where crisis faces you all around, sometime twenty four hours. God created this society that men may live in peace and healthy living.

“But as it is today, government for reasons that are either political, reasons that are sentimental, reasons that are ungodly, have not been able to give electorate such a comfort, so nobody is happy. Nigeria is such that appears boiling. It is like…[boiling] right now.

“To ensure that there is security, law and order must be maintained and we have seen over the years that Nigeria is one of the most lawless country in the world, anybody does whatever they like.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General