Category : Politics in General

In New Jersey, a 93-year-old veteran serves his community as mayor

Vito Perillo won his first race for mayor, wearing out two pairs of shoes as he campaigned door-to-door in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

Watch it all–oh my is he inspiring.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., City Government, Politics in General

(Local Paper) Charleston, South Carolina, mayor reaches out to religious leaders to build relationships, promote good deeds

Shortly after Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg took office in 2016, he reached out to several pastors for counsel.

He had been thinking about how the city fared following 2015’s Emanuel AME Church massacre, about how a web of strong relationships helped Charleston shine during one of its darkest hours.

Tecklenburg hoped that this gathering of religious leaders not only would build on those relationships but also find new ways to promote good works.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(The State) Cindi Ross Scopp–South Carolina Needs Thoughtful Overall Tax Reform not Simplistic Tax Cuts

Like a good stock portfolio, a good tax system relies on a balance, with different types of taxes behaving differently throughout the economic cycle, and affecting different types of people in different ways. For both stability and fairness, economists agree that the best state tax system relies about equally on the income tax, the sales tax and the property tax. South Carolina already relies less on income taxes than the sales or property tax. Cutting income taxes by more than 15 percent would further unbalance our tax system.

Our sales tax, by contrast, is the 16th highest in the nation. The main reason it’s so high is that it’s all about mollifying special interests by giving them special tax breaks. We exempt more than we tax: We have around 120 exemptions written into law, and on top of that we tax far fewer services than most states. House members say they can cut the state sales tax from 6 percent to 3 percent if they address both of those problems, and technically that’s true. The problem is that they’re not going to tax all goods and services, and they probably shouldn’t, because some prevent taxing the same thing twice, and some of the biggest exemptions (think electricity and groceries) serve primarily to make the sales tax a little less regressive than it otherwise would be.

Still, any effort to eliminate some exemptions and tax more services — and use the additional revenue to cut the tax rate — would be a smart step toward a lower, flatter tax system, one that is less volatile and more fair. Which is the opposite of where cutting the income tax rates — and creating yet another large tax exemption — would take us.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, State Government, Taxes

(Yesterday’s Local paper Front Page) South Carolina lawmakers consider electrocuting death row inmates if lethal injection drugs unavailable

South Carolina lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the state to execute death row inmates using the electric chair — something that hasn’t been done since 2008 — if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Under current law, criminals sentenced to the death penalty in South Carolina can choose to die by lethal injection or electrocution.

Like other states, South Carolina has not had access to the necessary drugs to attempt a lethal injection since the last of its stock expired in 2013. That has left the state unable to carry out the ultimate punishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Capital Punishment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, State Government

(Church Times) Bishop Holtam welcomes Government’s campaign against plastic

The ambition behind the Government’s new environmental plans is “terrific”, and shows it to be “caring for God’s creation” the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, has said.

Bishop Holtam, the C of E’s lead bishop on environmental issues, said on Thursday that it was good news that the environment had become a priority, and that there was “a recognition of the state we are in”.

It was “a very significant document”, Bishop Holtam said, and accompanied by a “very significant speech”.

The plan was unveiled by the Prime Minister on Thursday morning. The Government is to introduce a raft of proposals designed to eliminate all avoidable plastic by 2042.

Speaking at the launch of the Government’s new 25-year environmental plan on Thursday, the Prime Minister announced a war on plastic waste, calling it “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(Time) Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump Promote the Same Populist Theology

Oprah Winfrey’s public image could not be more different from Donald Trump’s.

While the longtime talk show host is famous for getting her guests to open up emotionally, Trump’s signature move on The Apprentice was firing contestants, who often left the boardroom crying.

But beneath their vastly different images, Winfrey and Trump share the same populist theology. Both preach a gospel of American prosperity, the popular cultural movement that helped put Trump in the White House in 2016.

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Queen’s Christmas message for 2017

‘Today we celebrate Christmas, which itself is sometimes described as a festival of the home. Families travel long distances to be together.

Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.

We remember the birth of Jesus Christ whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem.

He knew rejection, hardship and persecution; and yet it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad.

Whatever your own experiences this year; wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Christmas, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) How the Queen – the ‘last Christian monarch’ – has made faith her message

A survey of the broadcasts made during her 65-year reign reveals that for most of the time the Queen has spoken only in passing of the religious significance of Christmas. There have been references to presents linking contemporary Christmas to the three wise men, for instance, alongside trips to Commonwealth countries, family events such as weddings and funerals, and there were observations about contemporary society. In 1966, for example, she spoke of the progress of women, and in 1972, she commented on Britain joining the European Community in language that would make any Remainer proud.

But for the past 17 years, her messages have taken on a different tone, with the Queen explaining her own personal faith – “the anchor in my life”, as she described it in 2014.

Last year she said: “Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”

The turning point in the content of the broadcasts was the millennium. Her broadcast in 2000 was devoted to an account of Christ’s life and teaching which, she said, “provide a framework in which I try to lead my life”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Christian Post) Pakistan Cracks Down on Charities, World Vision Given 90 Days to Leave

The government in Pakistan has ordered 27 international aid groups, including World Vision, to shut down alleging they were working in unauthorized areas and aiding human rights campaigners. The groups have been given 90 days to leave.

The 27 groups that have been asked to leave by Pakistan’s interior ministry include Action Aid, Plan International, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Danish Refugee Council, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Novib, and Marie Stopes, according to Reuters.

Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Talal Chaudhry, told Reuters the nonprofits were doing work in Pakistan “which is beyond their mandate and for which they have no legal justification.” He added that the groups spent “all their money” on administration and are not doing the work they said they were doing.

Read it all.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General

The Importance of Having a ‘Yes’ Face

During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river which had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of their group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side. As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, “Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him.

“All I know,” he said, “Is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.”

Freedom gives people a ‘yes’ face. I am confident Jesus had a ‘Yes’ face.

–Charles Swindoll, The Grace Awakening (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Word, 2012 rev. ed of the 1990 original), p. 6, also used in the morning sermon (emphasis mine)

Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology

(NPR) Down Syndrome Families Divided Over Abortion Ban

Kelly Kuhns, 36, lives with her husband and their three children outside Columbus. The youngest, 2-year-old Oliver, was born with Down syndrome.

Kuhns, who works as a labor and delivery nurse, says a prenatal test during her pregnancy with Oliver revealed a mutation called Trisomy 21.

“When my provider called me and told me that the test came back positive for Down syndrome, I was definitely shocked. It was not what I was expecting at all,” Kuhns says. “I grieved — deeply.”

But Kuhns says she never considered ending the pregnancy.

“He’s still a baby. He’s still worthy of a life just like everybody else,” she says.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, State Government

(Patheos) [Eminent historian of American Religion] George Marsden-Can “Evangelicalism” Survive Trump?

In fact what we call “evangelicalism” is made up of a vast number of different churches and organizations from around the world that are mostly disconnected with each other, even though they share a number of basic common features (notably, “biblicism,” “conversionism,” “crucicentrism,” and “activism,” as defined by David Bebbington). And if we start our thinking about “evangelicalism” by recognizing this fundamental diversity, that invites a second thought experiment: what if we thought first of “evangelicalism” in the light of its many majority world manifestations, instead of first through an American lens?

A helpful habit of mind for thinking clearly about “evangelicalism” as fundamentally a collection of diverse, but loosely related, phenomena is to think of it as analogous to a biological genus. The genus of mammals, for instance, includes wide varieties of species that share some essential identifying traits, but we are not in the habit of thinking of them as one thing. So we immediately recognize that in most respects it is a fallacy to generalize from the character of house cats to say what giraffes are like. So also it should be easy to see that it is a mistake attribute the characteristics of white Baptist Trump voters to prosperity gospel pentecostals in Kenya, or to confuse either with the attitudes of the evangelical Christian Union in Oxford.

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., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

(NYT) After Alabama Vote, Soul-Searching for Some Evangelicals

The editor in chief of Christianity Today did not have to wait for the votes to be counted to publish his essay on Tuesday bemoaning what the Alabama Senate race had wrought.

Whoever wins, “there is already one loser: Christian faith,” wrote Mark Galli, whose publication, the flagship of American evangelicalism, was founded 61 years ago by the Rev. Billy Graham. “No one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.”

The sight of white evangelical voters in Alabama giving their overwhelming support to Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate, despite accusations of racial and religious bigotry, misogyny and assaults on teenage girls, has deeply troubled many conservative Christians, who fear that association with the likes of Mr. Moore is giving their faith a bad name. The angst has grown so deep, Mr. Galli said, that he knows of “many card-carrying evangelicals” who are ready to disavow the label.

The evangelical brand “is definitely tarnished” by politicization from whatever side, Mr. Galli said on Wednesday. “No question about it.”

He said that his readers seemed to agree with the thrust of his essay. The main criticism he received, he said, was one he agreed with: that he should have made it clearer that he was referring not to all Christians, but to evangelicals in particular….

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., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

(WSJ) In Somalia, an Overlooked Extremist Hotbed Simmers

Maimed in the war between Somalia’s government and al Qaeda’s affiliate al-Shabaab, the patients of De Martino Hospital prefer not to talk about what happened to them.

“Everybody’s afraid,” the hospital’s director, Abdi Ibrahim Jiya, said as he walked through a ward filled with recent arrivals. “If you complain and are for the government, you’re afraid of the Shabaab. And if you complain and are for the Shabaab, you’re afraid of the government.”

Such is the balance of fear in Somalia’s capital, a bustling city of three million people where, despite years of international military efforts to stamp out Islamic extremists, security remains elusive and government authority fleeting. In October, Mogadishu was hit by Africa’s deadliest terrorist attack—a truck bombing that killed more than 500 people.

Outside Mogadishu, things are worse. Al-Shabaab controls roughly 30% of the country’s territory, Somali government officials estimate. Alongside Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan, that is the world’s largest swath of real estate that remains under jihadist sway since the recent demise of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Violence

(AM) Andrew Symes–Can biblical faith flourish in an intolerant secular society?

But today, according to Farron, that doctrine of liberalism has become dominant, and like state-sponsored Christianity, instead of being ‘emancipationist’, has become oppressive. Liberalism has today become like the ‘established church’ of Constantinian or post-Reformation times, wanting a monopoly of power, no longer a philosophy which challenges the human tendency to lord it over others. For Farron, the foundation of liberalism is Christianity (and particularly non-conformist evangelicalism), not political correctness masquerading as a kind of self-evident ‘liberalism’. “Secularism is a totalising creed that reduces everyone down to either consumer or regulatory units”, he says, and cannot be a basis for ‘shared values’.

At the same time, Christianity must be ‘liberal’, sticking to the Bible’s teaching, but not seeking to impose this on society in such a way as to restrict freedom of thought and action within the law. Farron isn’t saying, as some evangelicals do, that Christians should just focus on the local church, and be indifferent to the lives and choices of society outside the Christian community and those being evangelised on the fringe. As he said: “God will judge…it is not unloving or judgmental for Christians to point that out”. But he warns against the kind of close association of church and state:

“That in Britain we have a church trapped as part of the furniture of the state is a waste of a church.  A boat in the water is good.  Water in the boat, is bad.  A church in the state is good, the state in the church is bad.  Really bad.  It pollutes the message of that church.  It compromises it.  Weakens its witness.”

This serious criticism of the Church of England’s basic DNA, which Tim Farron did not develop in his argument, puts a finger on a key issue for thinking about the future of Anglicanism in Britain. Bible believing Christians in the C of E have always argued that Establishment ensures a place for influence at the high table, and an open door into communities at the grassroots. But if Farron is right, and the state is no longer Christian-liberal, and instead has become increasingly secular-authoritarian, then the state church no longer influences positively for Christianity. It must conform to secularism in order to stay at the high table – and in doing so must of necessity shed much of its Christian character, and collude in the persecution of orthodox Christianity.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture