Mere Links 09.12.14
Friday, September 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Illusion of Neutrality
Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse

The secular state cannot be neutral in matters of religion.

Churches Offer Sanctuary to Immigrants in Danger of Deportation
Miriam Jordan,

Campaign follows Obama decision to delay action that might have staved off removal.

The Crisis in Iraq? What is the Christian Response?
Various, Aleteia

For months, Christian leaders in the Middle East have been begging the world for help to fight that threat, which for them is all to real. They and other religious minorities have been on the run from the Islamist organization, also known as the Islamic State. Little by little, the world has woken up to the reality too, especially as the group very publicly decapitated two American journalists.

Defend Freedom for Non-Christians, All Benefit From Religious Liberty, Evangelical Experts Say
Jeffrey Scott, Christian Post

Religious freedom helps everyone, no matter what political or religious affiliation, a diverse group of religious freedom experts agreed Wednesday at the 2014 AEI Evangelical Leadership Summit.



Mere Links 09.11.14
Thursday, September 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

An Evangelical Defense of Traditional Marriage
Andrew T. Walker, Time

The church’s theology on marriage, while certainly pivotal to the church, isn’t sectarian. Marriage leads one outside the walls of the church and into the public square because marriage, by design, reveals a purpose about our being made male and female.

Hooking Up, Shacking Up, and Saying “I Do”
Rachel Sheffield, Public Discourse

Despite the lack of cultural support for positive practices that help couples toward healthy marriage relationships, the good news is that individuals have control over their relationship choices.

Christian churches’ sanctuary movement could grow
Astrid Galvan, Associated Press

The Rev. Noel Andersen, a national grassroots coordinator for Church World Service, said cities such as Denver, Portland, New York and Washington D.C., are organizing and preparing for the potential of more migrants taking sanctuary in churches.

Link Between Breast Cancer and Contraceptives Now Too Big to Ignore
Denise Hunnell, Aleteia

An article in the most recent issue of the medical journal Cancer Research details yet another study demonstrating a link between breast cancer in young women and the use of oral contraceptives.



In Memoriam
Thursday, September 11, 2014, 9:52 AM

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  (more…)



Mere Links 09.10.14
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

What Makes Young Evangelicals Less Conservative? Results of New Study May Surprise You
Napp Nazworth, The Christian Post

The more embedded Millennial Evangelicals are in the Evangelical subculture and the less interaction they have with non-Evangelicals, the more likely they are to demonstrate attitudes diverging from their elders.

Amicable divorce ‘is just as damaging for children’
Steve Doughty, Daily Mail

Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

Naked Consent: Why Personal Speech Codes Won’t Curb a Social Problem Like Sexual Assault
Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Speech codes won’t fix what ails a relationship marketplace that aggravates—rather than relieves—the risk of sexual violence. California’s proposed law will simply multiply accusations, legal proceedings, and judicial headaches.

The Catholic casino conundrum
Mathew N. Schmalz, Crux

Gambling is not prohibited for Catholics, but it’s a hard sell under Francis.



Mere Links 09.09.14
Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 10:00 AM

Surrogacy Gives Birth to an Unusual Alliance
Christopher White, Wall Street Journal

Ethical concerns about paying for babies bridge the sacred-secular gap.

Pope’s money man tightens control over the power of the purse
Inés San Martín, Crux

In another milestone along the path to financial reform, Pope Francis’ new “Council for the Economy” met for the third time Thursday, among other things working out details for transfering the Vatican’s power of the purse ever more completely to Australian Cardinal George Pell.

It’s Hard to be Saints in the City
Steven Malanga, City Journal

A new documentary shows how Benedictine monks make men out of Newark’s boys.

When Reagan and Ratzinger Teamed Up on Faith and Hope
Paul Kengor, The Imaginative Conservative

We need hope, even when hope seems so hopeless. To that end, 30 years ago, Cardinal Ratzinger and Ronald Reagan teamed up with some words of wisdom worth remembering right now.



Mikey Weinstein Does Well At His “Foundation”
Monday, September 8, 2014, 3:22 PM

On these pages, I have written a number of blogs regarding the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”) over the past several years.  The MRFF’s stated objective is to ensure “that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom to which they . . . are entitled.”  In actual fact, the MRFF’s goals have been precisely the opposite, and it seeks to take away the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of religion for Christian believers in our nation’s military.  The MRFF has reportedly been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize numerous times, but has not won yet.  The MRFF founder, president, and sole employee is Michael L. (Mikey) Weinstein, Esq.  A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Mr. Weinstein served as one of the White House West Wing attorneys for President Reagan, and later served as the general counsel for H. Ross Perot and his company.  He is the author of several books which describe his fight against “coercive” Christian practices in the military.  In 2012, Defense News named Mr. Weinstein as one of the most influential members of today’s military-industrial complex (ahead of former CIA Director, General David Petraeus), and Mr. Weinstein has important contacts at the highest levels in the Obama Administration.  As one example of his immense power and influence, Mikey Weinstein will testify on September 19, 2014, before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, regarding the current state of religious freedom in the military.  Mr. Weinstein also recently spoke at the Military College of Georgia, and at Duke University Medical School’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.  He is scheduled to address the students and faculty at the evangelical Patrick Henry College in late September.  (I hope that the College is not paying much in a speaker’s fee.)  My most recent blog regarding MRFF, Mikey Weinstein Strikes Again, available here. is prominently featured on the front page of the MRFF website.  (Thanks, Mikey!  But I am not so sure that you are going to link to this one.)

The past few years have been tough on the MRFF, but they have been very good for Mikey.  MRFF revenues decreased from $698,698 in 2011 to $584,347 in 2012.  Importantly, as MRFF’s annual revenues are well below $1 million, most charity-rating agencies, such as Charity Navigator, do not evaluate the efficacy of expenditures for smaller non-profit entities.  However, the MRFF is quite a sinecure for its sole employee.  Mikey Weinstein’s salary from the MRFF in 2011 and 2012, as reported in its Form 990 tax filings, were $263,098 and $284,009, respectively.  (Did you get a $21,000 raise in 2012?)  Although his salary might seem high to a few of my readers, Mikey affirmed in his tax filings under penalties of perjury that he worked an average work week of 80 hours at the MRFF.  Given that the MRFF asserts that more than 38,000 active duty, veteran, and civilian personnel of our nation’s armed forces have sought out MRFF assistance, with “hundreds more contacting MRFF each day,” it is little wonder that Mikey has had to work so hard.  So in light of his important and powerful influence, and all of his hard work and dedication to his cause, one should not be surprised that he earned in salary almost one-half of MRFF’s total revenues for 2012.  It will be interesting to see how well he continues to do for 2013 when those numbers are published in the coming weeks.  I am certain that his donors see his valuable contributions to the MRFF, but to put things into some perspective, in its 2013 CEO Compensation Report, Charity Navigator determined that the typical CEO at a non-profit entity receiving between $1 million to $3.5 million in annual revenues earned $95,661 in 2011.  The median CEO salary for a larger non-profit entity receiving up to $100 million in annual revenues was $285,753, an amount similar to Mikey’s salary.  Of course, the other CEOs are not among the most influential members of the defense establishment, and few will claim, under penalties of perjury, to work an average of 80 hours each week.  Some jokesters have quipped that the MRFF actually stands for “Mikey’s Religious Fund Foundation.”  It seems to me that our Internal Revenue Service might wish to investigate the MRFF’s 501(c)(3) status.  After all, should donors to the MRFF be entitled to a tax deduction when the primary “charitable” purpose is to pay Mikey’s high salary?  So for having earned over $547,000 over two years, it is too bad that Lois Lerner, Esq., is no longer in the saddle at the tax-exempt division at the IRS.  She would certainly know what to do to investigate the MRFF fully.  Christians do not and should never fear religious freedom, for where there is freedom, God’s Holy Word and his Son, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, will be known, for He only is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  But those opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ have throughout history sought to silence the voices of His children.



Mere Links 09.09.14
Monday, September 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

Rape and Rotherham
Ross Douthat, New York Times

So instead of looking for ideological vindication in these stories, it’s better to draw a general lesson. Show me what a culture values, prizes, puts on a pedestal, and I’ll tell you who is likely to get away with rape.

Prince Charles Offers Prayerful and Financial Support to Iraqi Christians
Greg Daly, Aleteia

Ecumenical leaders gather at Lambeth Palace to voice concern for the persecuted.

How to Avoid Death Panels
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

So, why is it controversial to pay doctors for these conversations? Blame a toxic soup of money combined with advocacy in bioethics, among assisted-suicide proponents, and in a media in favor of a “quality of life” ethic.

Protestant Prelates Oppose Force Against ISIS
Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism

Why do oldline Protestant spokespersons and officials continue to ignore historic Christian teachings about Just War and pretend that our fallen world is other than what it is?



Feast: The Nativity of the Theotokos
Sunday, September 7, 2014, 7:00 AM

September 8 – The Nativity of the Theotokos (EO)/The Nativity of Mary (RC)

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

(From the CD “Panagia, Orthodox Hymns to the Mother of God” by Archangel Voices.)



Mere Links 09.05.14
Friday, September 5, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why so many Christians won’t back down on gay marriage
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

A traditional view of marriage is about much more than today’s politics. It’s deeply woven into the 2,000-year-old ethic at the heart of our faith.

Why Do Many Pro-Life Catholics Vote Democrat?
Napp Nazworth, Christian Post

Forty-three percent of [pro-welfare/pro-life] Catholics believed a pro-choice Democratic candidate was pro-life, which was much higher than the rate of misperception among other Catholics. Hussey described the misperception as a psychological coping strategy to deal with the cognitive dissonance that results from being PW/PL. “Pro-life, pro-welfare Catholics generally seem to deal with this dissonance by projecting their church’s [views on abortion], which also happens to be their own view … onto their candidate of choice,” Hussey said during her panel presentation.

U.S. evangelicals headed for showdown over gender roles
Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post

In recent decades, parts of American religion have been transformed by feminism, from women serving as rabbis to Catholic girls becoming altar servers. Now the heart of U.S. evangelicalism may be heading for a gender showdown.

Pope Francis ranked among Washington’s political elite
Michael O’Loughlin, Crux

While he prefers to associate with the poor and marginalized, Pope Francis has shown up on a list of the powerful and elite. Politico Magazine ranked the Argentine-born Catholic leader No. 6 on its “The Politico 50” list, dubbing him “Washington’s Favorite Populist.”



Feminist Professor Convicted of Grand Theft, Vandalism, and Battery
Thursday, September 4, 2014, 10:49 AM

photo 150x150 Feminist Professor Convicted of Grand Theft, Vandalism, and BatteryThe University of California at Santa Barbara (“UCSB”) is one of the elite public universities in the United States.  It is often described as one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, recognizing its important contributions to research and academic excellence.  Among its many degree programs, it offers various degrees in feminist studies. One of the UCSB star faculty in feminist studies, Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor, teaches courses involving black cultural studies, pornography, and sex work.

Last March, two teen-age sisters and pro-life activists, Thrin and Joan Short, were in the “free speech zone” at UCSB (I suppose that in California, First Amendment free speech rights are limited in public forums. Who knew?)  The Short sisters were exercising their freedom of speech and displayed photographs of the aftermath of abortion on posters to engage students in discussion about abortion and the alternatives to abortion.

Professor Miller-Young was walking past the young women, and became deeply incensed at the pro-life literature and photos. She forcibly took their posters, and later assaulted the sisters. You can watch a video of the incident here.  Afterwards, police were called, and Professor Miller-Young told police that she found the prof-life literature and graphic photos “disturbing” because she teaches reproduction rights. (One could think that she would welcome, as an esteemed and learned professor, an opportunity to challenge the thinking of two teen girls. But I digress.)  Following the police investigation, Professor Miller-Young was charged with multiple offenses. After trial in July, she was convicted of grand theft, vandalism, and battery, which are non-trivial offenses. In August, as Professor Miller-Young sat in the front row dabbing her eyes, Judge Brian Hill handed down his lenient sentence: 108 hours of community service to be performed in conflict-resolution workshops (no, I am not making this up), ten hours of anger management classes, restitution of $493 to the Short sisters, and three years of probation. No response was received for requests for comments by Mere Comments to UCSB Chancellor Henry Tang and Professor Miller-Young.

In our society, one can disagree vehemently with pro-life activists, but even at UCSB, disagreeing doesn’t give anyone, particularly one in a power position as a university professor, the right to steal the young women’s property, and then to attack them when they tried to get it back. Of course, one can expect that Professor Miller-Young will soon receive a promotion to full professor, and an invitation to the Obama White House for being another “victim” in the evil, pro-life war on women reproductive health rights by people of faith. Why are pro-death advocates afraid of two teen girls and depictions of the aftermath of abortion? Kudos to the Short sisters for reminding us about the horrific effects of abortion in a society where the institutions of influence hate any notion of protecting the unborn.

 


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