As we have blogged, the housing allowance tax exemption for ministers of religion has been ruled unconstitutional in a Wisconsin lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Last week, an appeal of that decision was filed with Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The exemption allows ministers of religion–which includes called teachers on the roster of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod–to deduct from their income taxes what they spend on housing, which congregations structure as a “housing allowance” in lieu… Read more

Professor John McAdams was a tenured political science professor at Marquette University, a Jesuit institution in Milwaukee.  He is also a conservative with an outspoken blog entitled the Marquette Warrior (after the university’s former team name that was changed to Golden Eagles out of sensitivity to Native American warriors).  Marquette fired Prof. McAdams.  He has sued the university in a case that was just argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Here is what happened:  A teaching assistant told a student that… Read more

The California State Assembly has passed a bill that would outlaw “the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that “includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” Assembly Bill 2943 now needs the approval of the Senate and the signature of Governor Jerry Brown to become law. So what kind of “goods” are capable of changing behaviors”?  Wouldn’t that have… Read more

A high-level meeting of big donors, Democratic party officials, and politicians came up with three major policy initiatives  for the party to pursue:   free universal healthcare, free college tuition, and reparations to atone for slavery.  Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation to remove marijuana from the list of restricted drugs under federal law, a major step towards legalizing marijuana nationwide. These policy goals are not official planks in the Democratic platform, at least not yet, but they show the direction… Read more

An article at Aleteia entitled This is How Christians Lived in the 2nd Century by Philip Kosloski put me on to a remarkable document that attempts to explain Christians to citizens of the Roman empire–those strange people who don’t expose their infants but let all of their babies live; who reject sex outside of marriage; who endure cruel persecution cheerfully; who do good even to those who hate them. The text is a part of the Epistle to Diognetus  written,… Read more

In 1961, the Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was put on trial for his role in orchestrating the mass extermination of Europe’s Jews.  Television, such as it was then, covered the trial closely, and accompanied it with some moving documentaries on what happened in concentration camps such as Auschwitz.  My parents let me watch them.  I was ten years old. Watching the grainy footage on our black-and-white TV of bodies heaped up in mountainous piles, flies buzzing on the emaciated corpses of… Read more

A Mennonite pastor has just been released after spending two years in prison–the full term of his sentence–for what the prosecutor scornfully called “acting on his religion.” What was his heinous crime?  He helped one of his parishioners, a convert to Christianity who left her lesbian lifestyle, flee the country after a court threatened to give custody of her daughter to her former partner. From Heather Clark, Mennonite Minister Imprisoned for Two Years for Helping Mother Avoid Placing Daughter With Lesbian… Read more

You no doubt heard about the nation-wide school walkouts on March 14 and April 20 to protest gun violence and to demand gun control.  Those got lots of press and had the co-operation of school faculties and administrators, who let out classes and encouraged students to support the cause.  There was another school walkout on April 11 , which also protested violence against children on an even larger scale, but the major media ignored that one and the schools did not make… Read more

Thirty-seven years ago, I stumbled upon an article by Peter Berger, “The Class Struggle in American Religion,” that gave me a new paradigm for understanding my times and that equipped me to resist some of the pressures I was feeling as a newly-minted English professor.  In researching yesterday’s post, Status and Belief, on the “New Class,” I found Berger’s article on-line, so I wanted to draw your attention to it. At the time, I recognized the author’s name because of… Read more

John Daniel Davidson makes a useful distinction between “being moral” and “moralizing.” From his article in The Federalist,  Blame the Left for the Rise of Moralizing in America: Dean Acheson, who orchestrated the Marshall Plan and helped create the North Atlantic Treaty Organizaation, had no use for moralizing in foreign policy. He once said that listening to pious Canadians discuss foreign affairs was like listening to the “stern daughter of the voice of God.” His point was that there’s a big… Read more

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