Mere Links 09.18.14
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Might of Moral Obligation

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The invisible and extremely mysterious activity of the hidden God in the Book of Esther is profitably contrasted to His clear, open, and miraculous intrusions into history in the Book of Daniel.

Finding Hope: Protecting Religious Freedom In Prison
Elise Hilton, Acton Institute

“Prison is a hopeless place.” That’s how one former inmate describes it. What can give hope? The freedom to practice one’s faith, even behind bars and barbed wire.

San Francisco Moves to Enshrine Right to Sex-Selective Abortions
Rachel Lu, Aleteia

The city takes a stand against bans on sex-selective abortions—even though the practice is still legal in California and 41 other states.

Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis
Albert Mohler

Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

Mere Links 09.17.14
Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

The New Progressive Argument: For Kids, Marriage Per Se Doesn’t Matter
W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Can the salutary effects of an intact, married family for kids be achieved without the marriage? Not likely.

The Heart of the Gendercide Problem
Elizabeth Gerhardt, Christianity Today

What the church can do to address the issues underlying global violence against women.

A Tale of Two Churches
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.,

Once upon a time there was a church founded on God’s entering into human history in order to give humanity a path to eternal life and happiness with him. The Savior that God sent, his only-begotten Son, did not write a book but founded a community, a church, upon the witness and ministry of twelve apostles.

Incest and Pornography: More Similar Than We Think
Christopher O. Tollefsen , Public Discourse

Although we uphold the cultural taboo on incest, we accept something with precisely the same negative effect on integrity, marriage, and family: pornography.

Mere Links 09.16.14
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Church’s Unique Gift
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Christ’s greatest gift to the Church is the gift of the Holy Spirit; this gift is, moreover, original, unique, and exclusive.

Update on the Ministers’ Housing Allowance
Thom S. Rainer

Will the housing allowance for ministers still be available in the near future? Though we can never predict a court ruling with certainty, there are indicators that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will dismiss the case that is attempting to eliminate housing allowances completely. Simply stated, there seems to be a good probability that ministers will be able to continue to take the benefits of the housing allowance.

The Coming Reformation of Black Churches
Thabiti Anyabwile, The Front Porch

I think we’re beginning to ride a spiritual wave that will wash over African-American communities and churches. There’s a reformation (or, if you prefer, a revival) on the way. I think it’ll crash against the banks of Black life with the tidal force of a tsunami.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Prompts A Deeper Look at Stem Cell Research
Gene Tarne, Aleteia

You’d be amazed at the progress to date in treating patients using adult stem cells vs. nada from embryonic.

Mere Links 09.15.14
Monday, September 15, 2014, 10:00 AM

World May Be in Beginnings of World War III, Pope Suggests

Praying for war dead at Italian WWI Memorial, Francis condemns apathy toward ongoing conflict.

Surprise! One of the Church’s family issues is polygamy
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

Discussion of polygamy is likely to surface at the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family in the Vatican, and could be a factor in the politics of an expected debate over whether the church’s ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion ought to be revised.

The elderly, infertility: Any similarity to same-sex couples?
Russell D. Moore & Andrew Walker, Baptist Press

The argument goes something like this: If marriage is predicated on the possibility of children springing forth from sexual unions, those who cannot procreate — such as the elderly or infertile couples, not just same-sex couples — should not be allowed to marry. Such an argument, however, sidesteps the underlying principles of marriage’s intrinsic purposes.

She Announced Her Pregnancy Way Before 12 Weeks. Why More Women Should Consider Doing the Same.
Ericka Andersen, The Daily Signal

Fans of the hit TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” were excited to watch daughter Jill Duggar get married in June–but they weren’t expecting to hear she was pregnant just two months later.

Atheist Airman Denied Re-Enlistment For Refusing to Say “So Help Me God”
Monday, September 15, 2014, 9:57 AM

In October 2013, the United States Air Force adopted policy AFI 36-2606 (available here) that required enlistees and re-enlistees to conclude their enlistment oath with “so help me God.”  Prior to that time, an airman could opt for an alternative phrase and omit the “so help me God” language.  The “so help me God” language has long been included in the enlistment oath by a 1962 federal statute, 10 USC Section 502.

In recent days, an atheist airman was told by the Air Force that either he will have to take the oath concluding with “so help me God,” or he will be denied his request to re-enlist.  As one can expect, the unnamed airman from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada is now poised to take the military to court over this requirement.  He is represented by Monica Miller, an attorney with the American Humanist Association, an organization about which I have written on these pages over the years.  Ms. Miller has stated, “The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being.”  Then, in his usual bombastic rhetorical style, Mikey Weinstein, Esq., founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, wrote the following in a letter to Secretary of Defense Hagel regarding this matter:

In a time of increasingly polarized fundamentalist theocratic hostility, what good will be accomplished by deliberately leaning the singular most lethal organization ever to exist on this planet towards a reflection of ISIS? . . . . Any efforts to do so are a disingenuous and disgraceful interpretation of the law, serving and pandering to what is nothing more than a pathetically partisan, conservative theocratic agenda. . . . With a single command directive, Mr. Secretary, you can immediately remediate this bigoted issue and prevent any valuable airmen from being wrongfully discharged from the military for failing a BLATANTLY unlawful religious test.

Emphasis in the original.  Other branches of the United States military do not require the reference to God in the oaths, and make the phrase optional.  Of course, if I had some healthy cynicism, I could think that the Obama Pentagon mandated the “so help me God” requirement in late 2013 to get it challenged in federal court where a friendly judge would find the requirement unconstitutional, thereby creating a precedent for other courts to follow.  An argument could be made that the Article 6, Section 3, of the Constitution bars religious tests to hold office.  Specifically, that provision provides:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Emphasis added.  So could this provision apply to the military?  And should it apply?  After all, the military is subject to its own Code of Military Justice, and has special courts to hear military cases.  While this provision would apply to the Secretary of Defense as a federal executive officer, nothing is stated here regarding its application to members of our nation’s military.  Our understanding of the meaning of this provision is quite different from the view of our nation’s Founders.  Most Americans do not know that many of the original 13 states had “state” churches.  The South was traditionally Anglican, but had a growing Methodist and Baptist population.  New England was traditionally Congregationalist.  Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams, a Baptist, as a refuge from the Massachusetts Congregationalists.  The middle colonies mixed Catholics in Maryland, Presbyterians and Quakers.  Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and South Carolina paid churches out of the public treasury well into the 19th century.  The First Amendment so-called “Establishment Clause,” which has now mutated into meanings unimaginable to our Founders, simply precluded Congress from establishing the Church of the United States as England had done with the Church of England.  Further, the purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the power of the federal government to advance, for example, Roman Catholic or Anglican doctrines over Baptist ones.  Fundamentally, the religious oath provision prohibited a person elected to Congress or to a state legislature from being denied his seat merely for his religious views.

We will see whether Secretary Hagel will issue his directive.  But with Mr. Obama’s recent declaration to use American airpower against the Sunni terrorists in the Islamic State to bail out Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist groups, our airmen will truly need to ask “so help me God” in their daily responsibilities.  Please continue to pray for our soldiers and airmen, particularly for those who serve in harm’s way.

Feast : Exaltation of the Cross
Sunday, September 14, 2014, 7:00 AM

… it behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by whom we are saved, and delivered. — (Ps. 66. 2).

When I Survey Thy Wondrous Cross

– Isaac Watts, 1707.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride. (more…)

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.

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