The Common Good

Quick Read: Social. Justice. News.

A Faith-Based Aid Revolution in the Muslim World?

Every year, somewhere between US$200 billion and $1 trillion are spent in “mandatory” alms and voluntary charity across the Muslim world, Islamic financial analysts estimate.  At the low end of the estimate, this is 15 times more than global humanitarian aid contributions in 2011. 

With aid from traditional Western donors decreasing in the wake of a global recession, and with about a quarter of the Muslim world living on less than $1.25 a day, this represents a huge pool of potential in the world of aid funding.

http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95564/Analysis-A-faith-based-aid-revolution-in-the-Muslim-world

+Leave a Comment

Who or What is to Blame for the Struggling Economy?

John Hudson of The Atlantic writes:

"Everyone agrees the latest jobs report is a disaster, but economists are split about the underlying cause. Did increased gas prices choke off employment? Did uncertainty in Europe? How about job cuts in the public sector?"

Learn more here

 

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Is Technology Good For Religion?

Writing for The Washington PostLisa Miller says yes:

"Technology can greatly enhance religious practice. Groups that restrict and fear it participate in their own demise....If religious groups don’t embrace and encourage the practice of faith online, the faithful might go shopping instead."

Read more here

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

TV Bad for Kids' Self-Esteem — Except White Boys

 

Watching TV is bad for kids' self-esteem, except if they're white boys. (Seems likely that too much TV is bad for everyone's esteem for their fellow humans, made in the image of God ...)"A new study suggests exposure to today’s electronic media often reduces a child’s self-worth.

Indiana University researchers say this is the case if you are a white girl, a black girl or a black boy.

However, researchers believe the media exposure can help the self-confidence of white boys.

... In the study, the researchers surveyed a group of about 400 black and white preadolescent students in communities in the Midwest over a yearlong period."

Read more here.

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

A Decade After War, Sierra Leone Still Struggling to Find Peace

In the aftermath of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor's conviction for war crimes this week, author Greg Campbell writes for The Atlantic that the children of neighboring Sierra Leone still suffer in abject poverty:

Ten years after the end of Sierra Leone's bloody civil war over control of its diamond fields, children as young as 3 years old continue to toil in its mines, hoping at best to earn a few pennies for food in a country still wracked by extreme poverty.

Read his full piece here

 

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Court of Appeals: Defense of Marriage Act 'Unconstitutional'

As reported by Reuters today:

A federal appeals court on Thursday found a law that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples unconstitutional, in a case with implications for gay marriages across the United States.

Read more about the ruling here

 

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

Evangelicals, Muslims Seek to Shape Common Values in Post-Revolution Egypt

Christianity Today reports:

17 Coptic evangelical leaders met with five Muslim Brotherhood counterparts at the Brotherhood's headquarters on February 28, and crafted a joint statement of common values that both sides agree the new Egyptian constitution and government should uphold. Evangelicals comprise a minority of Egyptian Christians, almost 90 percent of whom are Coptic Orthodox.

Read more about this story here

 

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

Senator Calls Seniors Concerned About Social Security Cuts 'Greedy Geezers'

If there’s a contest for the title “greedy geezer,” a Social Security recipient living on $14K/year probably isn’t in the top ten…

"…former Sen. Alan Simpson recently referred to a group of seniors concerned about cuts to Social Security as “greedy geezers.” While Simpson characterizes retirees who receive an average annual Social Security benefit of $14,000 as “greedy,” a new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that simply raising or eliminating the Social Security payroll tax cap would only affect a tiny percentage of workers – the wealthiest in our nation -- while strengthening Social Security. …"

"[Currently,] a worker who makes twice the Social Security wage cap – $220,200 per year – pays Social Security tax on only half of his or her earnings, and one who makes just over 1.1 million dollars per year pays the tax on only about a tenth."

Read full report HERE.

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Banning Atheists from Public Office

A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:

There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.

And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.

The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.

In Tennessee for example,

"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."

In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:

"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court." 

There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:

People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

Money Unlimited

A good history in The New Yorker of attempts at regulating campaign finance leading to the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court and how Chief Justice Roberts orchestrated the decision:

"The decision followed a lengthy and bitter behind-the-scenes struggle among the Justices that produced both secret unpublished opinions and a rare reargument of a case. The case, too, reflects the aggressive conservative judicial activism of the Roberts Court. It was once liberals who were associated with using the courts to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government, but the current Court has matched contempt for Congress with a disdain for many of the Court’s own precedents."

Last evening, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who led the dissent in the case, commented on it in a speech at the University of Arkansas.  Asking why those with the most money are permitted to dominate the airwaves, he said:

"During the televised debates among the Republican candidates for the presidency, the moderators made an effort to allow each speaker an equal opportunity to express his or her views. Both the candidates and the audience would surely have thought the value of the debate to have suffered if the moderator had allocated the time on the basis of the speakers' wealth, or it they had held an auction allowing the most time to the highest bidder."

Yet thanks to the Court, that is essentially what we have in this election.   

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice