The Common Good

Blog Posts By QR Blog Editor

Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 21 weeks ago
The Atlantic reports:Ever since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, evangelicals have been a powerful political force. Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority organization were credited in part with Reagan's election, having registered millions of evangelicals to vote. Their influence would only grow over the next 25 years: Evangelicals were instrumental in Reagan's reelection, the Republican Revolution of 1994, and both of George W. Bush's victories. But on November 6, 2012, their reign came to an end."I think this [election] was an evangelical disaster," Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told NPR. He's right, but it wasn't for lack of trying.The late Falwell's Liberty University gave former governor Mitt Romney its keynote spot at its 2012 commencement and backed off previous language calling Mormonism a "cult." Billy Graham uncharacteristically threw his support behind the Republican candidate, and his evangelistic association bought full-page newspaper ads all but endorsing Romney. Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition spent tens of millions in battleground states to get out the religious vote.Read more here. 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 21 weeks ago
CNN reports:Emboldened by the re-election of President Barack Obama, a cadre of liberal Catholic activists and groups is waging a campaign alleging that America's Catholic bishops are out of touch with Catholic laypeople.The Catholic bishops, who are in Baltimore this week for a quarterly meeting, spoke out against the Obama administration during the election cycle over what they said were White House violations of religious freedom.Some bishops also spoke out against legalized gay marriage and abortion rights, positions embraced by many Republicans.A Sunday opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter by Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown University, hammered the bishops for their public proclamations during the campaign, saying the church leaders' “political strategy … is not working.”Read more here:
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
The Los Angeles Times reports:As the head of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly might be considered one of the nation's leading culture warriors — a title that certainly applied to his predecessor, James Dobson, who founded the organization and built it into a powerhouse of the conservative evangelical movement.And, to be sure, Daly threw the considerable resources of his organization — which fiercely opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — behind the campaign to defeat President Obama, paying for millions of mailers that listed the presidential candidates' positions on issues that were important to “values voters.”In the aftermath of the election, however, Daly is willing to say things that few conservative evangelical leaders are likely to say. He believes, for instance, that the Christian right lost the fight against same-sex marriage in four states in part because it is on the losing side of a cultural paradigm. He says the evangelical community should have been considering immigration reform years ago, “but we were led more by political-think than church-think.”Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
Christian Post reports:When the new members of Congress are sworn in on Jan. 3, the institution that once mirrored the nation's Protestant Christian dominance will look slightly more like the religiously diverse nation it represents. The new Senate will seat a Buddhist member for the first time and the House of Representatives will have its first Hindu member.Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who currently serves in the House of Representatives, won her Senate race last week and will be sworn in as the Senate's first Buddhist. Hirono's House seat will be filled by Tulsi Gabbard, who will become the first Hindu in Congress. Hirono will also be the first Asian-American female and the first person born in Japan to be elected to the U.S. Senate.Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
Eric Sapp writes for The Huffington Post:In recent years, there has been a trend in politics away from any mention of the poor. Republicans never really paid them any mind, but Democrats have been convinced they should not make any mention of the poor, and instead, focus exclusively on the middle class. The decision to stop talking about the poor was, for Democrats, based on polling data. Pollsters have tested traditional progressive language about the "poor, vulnerable, and needy" and seen that voters don't have a very high opinion of those groups. Furthermore, polling shows that most voters want to self-identify as "middle class."Because of all of this, many Democrats have reached the conclusion that mentioning the poor or openly championing policies that explicitly benefit them is a political loser. This conclusion has very dangerous policy and strategic implications (especially with the looming sequestration debate) and will ultimately box Democratic leaders into a corner where they have no choice but to sacrifice programs that struggling American families depend on the most. Thankfully, in this case, we don't have to choose between doing what is right and what works politically.Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
The Guardian reports:For Americans concerned about the environment, disaster was avoided on Tuesday. President Obama – with his somewhat lackluster record, if decidedly more exalted rhetoric, on global warming – defeated the Republican challenger who had vowed to gut federal emissions standards, and kill loan programs and tax breaks for green energy companies.But activists say that it would be wrong to read the election as a stamp of approval for four more years of business as usual. They argue that voters have sent a clear signal that they want more aggressive action on the environment during the president's second term.Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
Stephen Prothero writes for the CNN Belief Blog:It’s demography, stupid!” is the new mantra for analyzing the 2012 election, in which African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos cast their votes in overwhelming numbers for President Obama.But religious diversity was another key theme. How so? Let me count the ways.1. The first Hindu in the HouseThanks to Hawaii’s 2d congressional district, a Hindu has been elected for the first time to the House of Representatives. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who was born in American Samoa, served in the Hawaii National Guard and was deployed to Baghdad and Kuwait, crushed Republican Kawaki Crowley with over three-quarters of the votes. Gabbard is a Vaishnava Hindu, which means she worships Vishnu. The key scripture in her Hindu tradition is the Bhagavad Gita, a meditation on duty in the face of war....Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put out numbers this week about religious voters in the 2012 elections. Here's a snippit: "In his re-election victory, Democrat Barack Obama narrowly defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the national popular vote (50% to 48%)1. Obama’s margin of victory was much smaller than in 2008 when he defeated John McCain by a 53% to 46% margin, and he lost ground among white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics. But the basic religious contours of the 2012 electorate resemble recent elections – traditionally Republican groups such as white evangelicals and weekly churchgoers strongly backed Romney, while traditionally Democratic groups such as black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated backed Obama by large margins."Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 22 weeks ago
Christian Post has a great round up of election coverage from a Christian perspective. Conservative Christians are not hiding their disappointment in the outcome of the 2012 election. Not only did the candidates that they supported not win but they also saw losses in the marriage and pro-life battles."'On every level – presidential, congressional, social – it was a bruising day for our movement that no amount of spin can improve," wrote Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, in an email to supporters. "Americans had a choice, and they made it. Is the outcome what we want? Obviously not.' GOP candidate Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to President Barack Obama after losing most key battleground states, including Ohio. Obama surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term and also won the popular vote."Read more here.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 26 weeks ago
It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. One of the surest ways to reduce poverty is to provide an education for girls. Yet, as AFP reports, a new study shows there is still a long way to go.“Millions of girls worldwide are condemned to lives of hardship because they don't go to school, an education gap that entrenches broader extreme poverty, a new report said. The report, "Because I am a Girl: The State of the World's Girls 2012," was released in New York by Plan International on the first International Day of the Girl organized by the United Nations."The estimated 75 million girls missing from classrooms across the world is a major violation of rights and a huge waste of young potential," the child poverty alleviation group said in launching the report.”The full 200-page study is HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 27 weeks ago
Former Penn State Football Coach Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to no fewer than 30 years in prison, and up to 60 years. Given Sandusky's age, 68, the ruling is basically a life sentence. From NBC News: "Sandusky, who was defensive coordinator and for many years the presumed heir-apparent to legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, could have faced as long as 400 years for his convictions on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, but at age 68, he is unlikely ever to leave prison, assuming he loses any appeals."Yesterday, Sandusky released an audio statement maintaining his innocence and lashing out at his offenders. 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 32 weeks ago
According to Reuters (via Chicago Tribune):An earthquake of 7.9 magnitude struck off the Philippines on Friday and a tsunami warning has been issued for the region, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The quake was centered off the east coast, 91 miles off the town of Guiuan in Samar province at a depth of about 20 miles, USGS said. The tsunami warning was issued for the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and other islands in the Pacific including the U.S. state of Hawaii.CNN.com adds:"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.The quake struck just before 8:50 p.m. local time, the agency said.There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 34 weeks ago
Slate's Brian Palmer put up a piece about four letter words--your potty mouth, people. Does God care about certain words? Does he care about some and not others?  Here's a bit from it:  "The Old Testament and other religious texts prohibit taking the Lord’s name in vain, but do the gods have a problem with words like s--- and f---? Some gods do. The Quran doesn’t directly address vulgar language, but the Prophet Mohammed made his opposition to it clear in theHadith—statements attributed to the prophet with varying degrees of reliability. According to one of Mohammed’s contemporaries, he once said that “Allah does not like obscene words or deeds,” while another acquaintance reportedly observed that “the prophet was not one who would abuse (others) or say obscene words.” These anti-obscenity provisions appear regularly in the Hadith, making Islam the sole Abrahamic religion with a clear prohibition in its sacred texts on obscene language."  Read the whole post: HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 34 weeks ago
Both President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been somewhat hesistant to discuss their faith in detail during the campaign season. In a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, fewer than 50 percent of Americans identified Obama as a Christian. About 60 percent knew Romney is Mormon. The two discussed their faith in eight questions presented by Washington National Cathedral's magazine Cathedral Age. From the release: "'First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control,' said President Obama. “Faith can express itself in people in many ways, and I think it is important that we not make faith alone a barometer of a person’s worth, value, or character.'Governor Romney said, 'I am often asked about my faith and my beliefs about Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.'"For the full story, go HERE. 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Nick Kristof asks how the United States should be tackling the conflict in Syria:President Obama’s finest moments in foreign policy, like the Osama bin Laden raid or the Libya intervention, resulted from close engagement and calculated risks.His lapses come when he’s passive or AWOL — as in Syria. I’m generally a fan of Obama’s foreign policy, but on Syria there’s a growing puzzlement around the world that he seems stuck behind the curve.The United States shouldn’t invade Syria. But we should work with allies to supply weapons, training and intelligence to rebels who pass our vetting.Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
According to ThinkProgress:The group behind the Nuns On A Bus tour that highlighted the ill-effects of the House Republican budget in congressional districts across the country is now setting its sights on the party’s presidential candidate, inviting Mitt Romney to spend a day with the nuns to learn about the plight of America’s poorest citizens.NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, is inviting Romney to “spend a day with Catholic Sisters who work every day to meet the needs of struggling families in their communities,” according to a release. The group is specifically targeting Romney a day after his campaign released a misleading ad about welfare reform that Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK’s executive director, said “demonize[s] families in poverty” and shows Romney’s “ignorance about the challenges” the poor face in America.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
According to a piece in USA Today, the congregants of one Mexican church don't think so:A crusading Roman Catholic priest who has defied drug cartels and corrupt police to protect Central American migrants said Wednesday that church authorities are trying to smother his activist work with migrants by assigning him to parish duties.The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde has become well known in Mexico after enduring death threats for publicly denouncing drug gangs and police who rob and kidnap Central American migrants crossing Mexico to reach the United States.But Solalinde's diocese said he is simply being asked to start operating within the normal parish structure, and run his migrant shelter more like a church ministry and less like a lone activist's non-governmental organization.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
New results from the National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration show that July 2012 was the hottest summer on record for the United States, since accurate record keeping began in 1895. With an average temperature of 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, last month's heat wave surpassed July 1936 (which recorded an average of 77.4) to become the steamiest summer around.In a report on NBC, NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch explains:"These events are kind of what we'd expect with climate change, we'd expect expanding drought, we'd expect warm, record breaking temperatures… But it's kind of hard to pinpoint this month or past several months as a telltale sign that climate change is happening. The drought is more of a local factor and isn't necessarily driven by large scale climate change, but is impacting local temperatures. But we've also seen an increase in U.S. temperatures overall."
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
From The Los Angeles Times:Escalating violence in Syria has shut down pharmaceutical plants, piling another worry onto the woes facing the Syrian people: Severe shortages of medicine.The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that growing clashes between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and opposition fighters around the cities of Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo have damaged and closed many of the local plants that make the vast majority of medicines. The country produces most of its own pharmaceuticals.Drugs to treat tuberculosis, hepatitis, diabetes and other maladies are urgently needed, along with chemical reagents to screen blood before it can be used for infusions for trauma and surgery patients, according to reports received by the United Nations agency.Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
Writing for Salon, Adam Lee argues:Despite their shared belief in God, the religious left actually has less in common with the religious right than it does with progressive, nonreligious Americans. But by choosing to play up the importance of religion and religious language, the liberal churches undermined their natural allies outside the pews, while strengthening those who insisted most loudly and most vehemently that society should be run according to the dictates of the Bible. This strategic blunder has guaranteed the relative isolation and diminished influence of the Christian left in the face of a rising tide of religious conservatism.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
Conor Friedersdorf writes for The Atlantic:Since 9/11, many Americans have conflated terrorism with Muslims; and having done so, they've tolerated or supported counterterrorism policies safe in the presumption that people unlike them would bear their brunt. (If Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD sent officers beyond the boundaries of New York City to secretly spy on evangelical Christian students or Israeli students or students who own handguns the national backlash would be swift, brutal, and decisive. The revelation of secret spying on Muslim American students was mostly defended or ignored.)     In the name of counterterrorism, many Americans have given their assent to indefinite detention, the criminalization of gifts to certain charities, the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens, and a sprawling, opaque homeland security bureaucracy; many have also advocated policies like torture or racial profiling that are not presently part of official anti-terror policy.What if white Americans were as likely as Muslims to be victimized by those policies? What if the sprawling national security bureaucracy we've created starts directing attention not just to Muslims and their schools and charities, but to right-wing militias and left-wing environmental groups (or folks falsely accused of being in those groups because they seem like the sort who would be)?Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 35 weeks ago
Over the weekend, Salon published an excerpt from Mike Lofgren's new book, The Party Is Over:Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.Religious cranks ceased to be a minor public nuisance in this country beginning in the 1970s and grew into a major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa presidential caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. Unfortunately, at the time I mostly underestimated the implications of what I was seeing. It did strike me as oddly humorous that a fundamentalist staff member in my congressional office was going to take time off to convert the heathen in Greece, a country that had been overwhelmingly Christian for almost two thousand years. I recall another point, in the early 1990s, when a different fundamentalist GOP staffer said that dinosaur fossils were a hoax. As a mere legislative mechanic toiling away in what I held to be a civil rather than ecclesiastical calling, I did not yet see that ideological impulses far different from mine were poised to capture the party of Lincoln.Read more of the excerpt here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
Author and academic Jeffrey Sachs argues in a Huffington Post piece:Investors are awaiting the miraculous delivery from crisis by the ECB and the Fed, but they are waiting in vain. The economic problems in the U.S. and Eurozone are mostly structural, not monetary. Unfortunately ideologues and politicians on both sides of the spectrum are interested in quick fixes rather than the real groundwork of economic progress.Consider the new U.S. unemployment announcement. If you are a college graduate, there is no employment crisis. 72.7 percent of the college-educated population age-25 and over is working. The unemployment rate is 4.1 percent. Incomes are good.If you have less than a high-school diploma, however, you are barely scrapping by. Only 40.4 percent of those without a high-school diploma have a job. Their unemployment rate is 12.7 percent. Incomes are too low to make ends meet.There are two Americas: the college-educated crowd that may have taken a hit in their retirement accounts, but who are generally doing well. Then there are the rest, around 60 percent of the population, who are increasingly dropping out of the middle class. Nearly one-half of American households are now classified as low-income, within twice the poverty line.Read more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
For The Washington Post, former presidential speechwriter, Mike Gerson, writes: In Tampa this month, Republicans will cheer themselves hoarse for a Mormon nominee. And a nation that carefully marks and celebrates every ethnic and religious first won’t take much notice. The Mormon church — for which visibility has often brought persecution — is unlikely to crow about the achievement. And Mitt Romney is probably getting advice to downplay his religion. That was the case in 2007, when Romney explained that he liked the idea of giving a speech on his faith, but “the political advisers tell me, ‘No, no, no, it’s not a good idea. It draws too much attention to that issue alone.’ ”This cautiousness is understandable. In the typology of sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, Mormons remain a rejected “out-group,” unlike accepted “in-groups” such as Catholics and Jews. Large majorities of Americans perceive Mormonism as “very different” from their own religious beliefs.But in this case, the counsel of religious reticence is wrong. Romney should not be afraid to highlight his faith.Read more of his column here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
Fred Krupp writes in The Wall Street Journal:One scorching summer doesn't confirm that climate change is real any more than a white Christmas proves it's a hoax. What matters is the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather. But with more than 26,000 heat records broken in the last 12 months and pervasive drought turning nearly half of all U.S. counties into federal disaster areas, many data-driven climate skeptics are reassessing the issue.Respected Republican leaders like Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey have spoken out about the reality of climate change. Rupert Murdoch's recent tweet—"Climate change very slow but real. So far all cures worse than disease."—may reflect an emerging conservative view. Even Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, during public comments in June, conceded the reality of climate change while offering assurances that "there will be an engineering solution" and "we'll adapt."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
Souad Mekhennet writes for The New York Times on the growing hostility toward religious minorities as election season approaches in the United States: Muslims in Western countries say they have gotten used to the fact that as elections get closer, politicians pump up the volume of accusations against them, whether they are Sunni, Shiite or of another sect. In some European nations, it was the debate over women wearing the veil that set off the attacks. Now in the United States, where pivotal elections are looming, accusations against Muslims have reached a new level. It seems to some that the days of McCarthyism are back.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
 In an op-ed for Politico, two Representatives highlight the recent cuts to food assistance programs, and the damaging effects they will have on the state of the nation: The House gutted $16.5 billion from food stamps — our nation’s most important anti-hunger program, which gives low-income families modest aid during tough times. These cuts mean up to three million low-income Americans – largely families with children – can’t buy food.These cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also eliminate free school meals for 280,000 children. School breakfast or lunch is too often the only complete meal a child can eat all day. We expect our students to compete in a global economy. We expect them to come to school ready to learn — but we conveniently ignore the facts.Poor nutrition negatively affects students’ academic achievement. Children who are hungry often miss more days at school and, when they do attend, they may have more trouble concentrating. They often have lower test scores.Right now, 46 million Americans live in poverty, and more than 32 million adults and 16 million children live in food-insecure households. These families struggle every day to make ends meet — particularly as food prices continue to rise. As more and more families are getting by on less and less, food stamps help make groceries more affordable, so parents have more money to pay the rent, gas up their car and meet their children’s other basic needs. Food stamps kept 4 million Americans over the poverty line in 2010, including 2 million children, and lifted another 1.3 million kids above 50 percent of the poverty line. More than any other benefit program.Read the full article here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
From The Washington Post:If this small nation, with a per capita income of less than $3 a day and a life expectancy of 53, offers a hopeful model for fighting the scourge of AIDS in Africa, then large and relatively prosperous Uganda shows how quickly progress can run off track.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton saw Malawi’s more promising example Sunday as part of an eight-nation African visit. Last week in Uganda, she highlighted an alarming rise in infection rates there after years when the country was a leader in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. About 23 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are believed infected, and the United Nations has estimated that the region had 1.2 million AIDS-related deaths in 2010.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
Duke professor Dan Ariely writes for The Atlantic: The inequality of wealth and income in the U.S. has become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years. One reason for this is that the visibility of this inequality has been increasing gradually for a long time--as society has become less segregated, people can now see more clearly how much other people make and consume. Owing to urban life and the media, our proximity to one another has decreased, making the disparity all too obvious. In addition to this general trend, the financial crisis, with all of its fall out, shined a spotlight on the salaries of bankers and financial workers relative to that of most Americans. And on top of these, and most recently, the upcoming presidential election has raised questions of social justice and income disparities, bringing the issues into focus even more.Check out the piece for more insight 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
As reported by The Associated Press last week:Locking up illegal immigrants has grown profoundly lucrative for the private prisons industry, a reliable pot of revenue that helped keep some of the biggest companies in business.And while nearly half of the 400,000 immigrants held annually are housed in private facilities, the federal government — which spends $2 billion a year on keeping those people in custody — says it isn't necessarily cheaper to outsource the work, a central argument used for privatization in the first place.The Associated Press, seeking to tally the scope of the private facilities, add up their cost and the amounts the companies spend on lobbying and campaign donations, reviewed more than 10 years' worth of federal and state records. It found a complex, mutually beneficial and evidently legal relationship between those who make corrections and immigration policy and a few prison companies. Some of those companies were struggling to survive before toughened immigrant detention laws took effect.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 36 weeks ago
Eboo Patel on Millennials and the 2012 Presidential Election
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Writing for Q Ideas, John Morehead examines the 'credibility gap' that evangelcials are facing today:Evangelicals are having a serious credibility problem in regard to religious pluralism in the public square. This problem is amplified when it comes to Islam in a post-9/11 environment.Stephen Prothero, in his book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – and Doesn’t, documents that most Americans, including Christians, lack the most basic understanding of various religions. This was confirmed in the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey in 2010 where atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons, outperformed “Protestant Evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.”Yet this uninformed stance toward other religions has not stopped Christians from forming judgments and taking action on religious issues. After Mitt Romney announced his candidacy for president, many Christians said they would not vote for a Mormon “cult” member. When a Lutheran minister participated in an interfaith memorial service in Yankee Stadium just days after the 9/11 he received emails and letters from those in his denomination accusing him of heresy and terrorism against Christianity. As a result of his work with the Muslim community Rick Warren has been labeled a heretic and promoter of “Chrislam.” And in response to a Hindu offering the opening prayer for Congress, Christians shouted down the religious leader.If Christians are to overcome this credibility problem, they will have to address the reality of life and faith in the midst of religious diversity. Skye Jethani, Senior Editor of Leadership Journal, has said that if the culture is religiously diverse around us, but the church is not talking about what it means to be a Christian in this environment, then the church will continue to suffer as a result.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
From The Guardian:The Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues to plague BP more than two years after the disaster as the company has revealed another $847m (£538m) hit to cover rising legal costs.The additional charge for the second quarter brings the total bill for the fatal Deepwater Horizon incident to $38bn, BP said.BP is struggling to shake off the reputational blow of the April 2010 Macondo blow-out after recently coming under further fire in a report from a US government safety panel.Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
An interesting article from Glenn Greenwald examines how previously radical legislation has become accepted as normal in the U.S.:Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Writing in response to Peter Edelman's article on ending poverty in America, Tim Worstall counters:The reason we can’t end poverty in America is not because the country isn’t rich enough to do that: it is rather because of the ignorance of those who would end poverty in America. Peter Edelman has an Op/Ed in the New York Times which shows this to horrific effect. And what’s really worrying is that Edelman is supposedly one of the experts on how we ought to reduce poverty.One point that has to be made about poverty right at the start: to all intents and purposes America, like all other industrialised nations, has abolished poverty. What we have traditionally called poverty that is. Proper destitution, people dying of starvation in the streets from the lack of the wherewithal to purchase food. Absent drug or mental problems this simply does not happen any more. The reason being that we’ve all had those industrial revolutions and the societies are rich enough that we make sure such doesn’t happen. Sure, different places have different ways of doing it, some more governmental and tax based than others, but that basic job of feeding the starving, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless does get done.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Peter Edelman writes for The New York Times:We have the ingredients. For one thing, the demographics of the electorate are changing. The consequences of that are hardly automatic, but they create an opportunity. The new generation of young people — unusually distrustful of encrusted power in all institutions and, as a consequence, tending toward libertarianism — is ripe for a new politics of honesty. Lower-income people will participate if there are candidates who speak to their situations. The change has to come from the bottom up and from synergistic leadership that draws it out. When people decide they have had enough and there are candidates who stand for what they want, they will vote accordingly. I have seen days of promise and days of darkness, and I’ve seen them more than once. All history is like that. The people have the power if they will use it, but they have to see that it is in their interest to do so. Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
The Associated Press reports on new analysis on global poverty:Poverty across the planet will be virtually eliminated by 2030, with a rising middle class of some two billion people pushing for more rights and demanding more resources, the chief of the top U.S. intelligence analysis shop said Saturday.If current trends continue, the 1 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day now will drop to half that number in roughly two decades, Christoper Kojm said."We see the rise of the global middle class going from one to two billion," Kojm said, in a preview of the National Intelligence Council's global forecast offered at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado."Even if some of the most dire predictions of economic upheaval" in the coming years prove accurate, the intelligence council still sees "several hundred million people...entering the middle class," Kojm said.Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Writing for The Huffington Post, Eric Sapp takes a closer look at a recent Pew Forum poll:Here's a key point in the poll that didn't get much attention: 82 percent of those who know Obama is Christian say they are comfortable with his religion. So voters are basically twice as comfortable with Obama's faith when they know what it is. This is why faith outreach is so important (but more on that later).Why does the fact that most voters are not comfortable with Obama's religion matter? More than two-thirds of voters (and seven-in-10 women voters) say they want a president with strong religious beliefs. As one might imagine, these numbers are even higher with religious populations. Eight-in-10 Protestants and three-in-four Catholic voters want a president with strong religious beliefs. And let's be honest, they aren't talking about wanting Obama to have strong Muslim beliefs (so the fact that 17 percent of voters think he's Muslim doesn't add to the plus column)!Read more of Eric's analysis here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
While the country continues to be outraged over the shootings in Aurora, Colo., lobbyists on both sides of the gun debate, talking heads, and politicians are using it as an opportunity to push their agendas. Perhaps one of the most controversial is the erection of a billboard picturing shooter James Holmes beside President Barack Obama, paralleling the shooting to the war in Afghanistan. To read more from The Atlantic Wire and view the billboard, click HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes for The Huffington Post:The devastating impact of poverty on American economic life is well known. It wastes the talents, energy, and productive potential of many in the work force. In some communities, it increases crime which overburdens the police, the courts, and prisons, and makes doing business in these areas more costly. It strains the health care, and the welfare system. This results in a bigger tax drain on the middle-class. It sharply reduces the ability of thousands of consumers to purchase goods and services. This further crimps business growth and reduces government tax revenues. Yet, there is not a faint mention of the word poverty on the presidential campaign trail. There's a reason, in fact several reasons, for this. One is trying to define who is poor. Apart from the visibly homeless, and those rummaging around on skid row, and in some of the poorest and most recognizable urban inner city communities, one can easily be considered working, or even middle class, one day and the loss of a job, and tangible income, can quickly dump that person into the poverty ranks. This makes the poor even more diffuse, and hard to typecast. They cut across all ethnic, gender, and religious and even political party affiliation lines. There are low income persons in the South, Middle America, and the rural areas, that are conservative, and vote GOP. The other reason is that the poor do not have an advocacy group to go to bat for them with lawmakers such as labor, civil rights, education, environmental, or abortion rights supporters have. This further increases their political invisibility. The only time the poor had loud champions was a brief moment during the 1960s when a small band of anti-poverty groups and organizers got the attention of the Johnson Administration. They shouted, cajoled, and actively lobbied LBJ for a major expansion of anti-poverty programs, funding, and initiatives to reduce poverty in the nation. But the anti-poverty crusade quickly fell victim to Johnson's Vietnam War build up, and the increased shrill attacks from conservatives that the war on poverty was a scam to reward deadbeats and loafers, and sharp budget cutbacks. Read the full piece here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
USA Today reports on a new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, called Kids Count:The well-being of American children looks to be a mixed bag, with gains in academic achievement and health offset by growing economic distress, a new study finds.The percentage of children living in poverty in the U.S. is on the rise, according to the new Kids Count report, which also finds more children living in single-parent homes and with parents struggling to afford housing. The data, which track change in 16 indicators of well-being from 2005 to 2010, also show more children had parents lacking steady employment. The decline in children's economic situations is ominous because living in extended periods of deep poverty threatens children's development, says Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which released the Kids Count report. Read more about the study here    
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Employee rights activists Mary Kay Henry and Christine L. Owens write for CNN:Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage. For the last three years, while the prices of gas and milk have risen steadily and the richest 1% have enjoyed huge tax breaks, the federal minimum wage has remained frozen at $7.25 an hour, which amounts to just $15,080 a year -- as long as you get paid for any time you take off. That's more than $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. As a result, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has slowly eroded -- in just three years, its real value has sunk to $6.77 per hour, a nearly 50-cent drop. The Bush tax cuts, which are simply the perquisite of the moment for the 1%, allow for the richest to prosper at the expense of middle-class and low-income workers. While CEOs make millions and their corporations make billions as part of a so-called economic recovery, the majority of Americans are struggling to make ends meet. This struggle is exacerbated by the low federal minimum wage. As middle-class jobs are increasingly replaced by low-wage work, however, this is the economic reality for a growing number of Americans. Read more of their op-ed here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 37 weeks ago
Writing for The Huffington Post, Joanna Zelman reports on a new NASA study:Unprecedented melting of Greenland's ice sheet this month has stunned NASA scientists and has highlighted broader concerns that the region is losing a remarkable amount of ice overall. According to a NASA press release, about half of Greenland's surface ice sheet naturally melts during an average summer. But the data from three independent satellites this July, analyzed by NASA and university scientists, showed that in less than a week, the amount of thawed ice sheet surface skyrocketed from 40 percent to 97 percent. In over 30 years of observations, satellites have never measured this amount of melting, which reaches nearly all of Greenland's surface ice cover. Learn more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
E-mails from former Sen. Russell Pearce purportedly reveal the motivations behind SB 1070, claims the ACLU:"The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has released thousands of e-mails that it says proves Arizona's controversial immigration law was racially motivated.The e-mails, acquired through a public records request to the state Legislature, are to and from former senator Russell Pearce, who authored Senate Bill 1070."Read the full story HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
Reuters reports:"Senators are planning to introduce a bipartisan bill on Monday to give the country's securities regulator the authority to seek tougher fines for alleged Wall Street criminals.The bill, sponsored by Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, would boost the penalties that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission can seek from firms and individuals accused of wrongdoing and triple the cap on funds the agency can seek from repeat offenders. 'If a fine is just decimal dust for a Wall Street firm, that's not a deterrent,' Grassley said in a statement. 'A penalty should mean something.'" The bill comes only months after SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro asked Congress to boost the agency's firepower, after a federal judge in New York tossed out two SEC settlements over paltry penalties. Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
ThinkProgress reports on Mayor Bloomberg's comments on the subject of gun control:"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doubled down on his call for stronger gun regulation in the aftermath of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, telling MSNBC Monday morning that both presidential candidates must explain how they will address gun violence.“How anybody can run for the highest office in the country where 48,000 people are going to get killed in the next four years and not have a plan. Maybe they do, maybe they have a secret plan to end the war,” Bloomberg said and called for strengthening existing laws and closing loopholes."Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
Mother Jones examine the growing phenomenon of urban farms, and the effects that they are having on their communities:"There's been a growing body of research that suggests that urban farming and greening not only strengthen community bonds but also reduce violence. In 2000, Philadelphia had 54,000 vacant lots, and so the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society reclaimed 4,400 of them, mowing lands, providing upkeep, planting trees and gardens, and erecting three-foot-high fences that served no purpose other than as a kind of statement that this land now belonged to someone.The greening of these parcels (just 8 percent of the vacant land in the city) had an unexpected effect: Over the course of 10 years, it reduced shootings in the areas surrounding these renewed lots. Part of it was practical: The vacant lots had previously been hiding places for guns. But as Charles Branas, an epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania who released a study on the project late last year, says, 'People just became more in touch with their neighbors. People felt more connected to each other.'"Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
Scott Keys reports for ThinkProgress: "One of the most conservative congressmen in the country stepped up to defend Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and the rights of all Muslim-Americans yesterday against Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) spurious accusations that she is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, calling them 'the wrong thing to do.'”During a town hall held by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on Sunday, a constituent lauded Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witchhunt about a supposed Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government and called on her congressman to support her efforts. Sensenbrenner instead used the opportunity not only to defend Abedin, but to advocate for the larger notion of religious pluralism in America and a separation between church and state."Read more about Rep. Sensenbrenner's response here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
On Friday, The New York Times reported:"Moshe Silman, the desperately indebted Haifa man who set himself aflame last weekend as part of a social justice protest in Tel Aviv, died Friday from the second- and third-degree burns over 94 percent of his body.In the year since 400,000 people filled Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard last summer, setting off a national protest movement, Mr. Silman, 57, had become a fixture of demonstrations in Haifa. His self-immolation stunned but also galvanized the protest movement, which had been struggling to find its footing."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 1 year 38 weeks ago
According to Cathy Lynn Grossman in USAToday:  Five chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team, already in Colorado and New Mexico ministering to victims of the ravaging wildfires, redeployed to Aurora by 8 a.m. mountain time,Dealing with mass trauma isn't something taught in seminary, says Jack Munday, director of the team.The BGEA is now headed by Graham's son, Franklin, who also leads Samaritan's Purse, which rushes in aid in natual disasters.Munday says the chaplains went directly to Gateway High School in Aurora where the survivors and victims friends and family are gathered. They're also on call with local authories to go to other locations such as area hospitals.Munday described how the team -- sent to mass shootings, natural disasters and other major tragic events -- approaches people who may be angry, grieving, in shock or simply in need of help reaching their own family or clergy.Read the entire report HERE.