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Raw Majority Power: Why Checks and Balances Matter

Raw Majority Power: Why Checks and Balances Matter

An epic battle played out on two levels at the California Supreme Court on March 5. On a surface level, attorneys fought over a technical issue of whether the Proposition 8 prohibition on gay marriage represented a revision or an amendment. On the deeper level, the question asked was whether there are any limits on the majority to impact the rights of the minority.

 
 

VIDEO: California Supreme Court Oral Arguments on Prop 8

Watch the March 5, 2009 proceedings and read the briefs on both sides of this contentious issue.

 
 

Religious Persecution on the Horn of Africa (American Spectator)

Somalia continues to implode, as Islamists gain increasing control over what remains of the impoverished, conflict-ridden nation. But it is not the only human tragedy in the region. Eritrea, which won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of war, has earned a reputation as one of the world's youngest tyrannies. It also is one of the world's worst religious persecutors.

 
 

In wake of Supreme Court decision, 'clear defense needed of church-state wall' (Des Moines Register)

Considering the U.S. Supreme Court's contentious struggles over free speech and religion, it was a surprise to say the least to see Wednesday's ruling unanimously endorsing a government installation of the Ten Commandments in a city park.

While this ruling will likely have limited impact, it raises troubling questions about how dedicated this court – particularly the younger justices, who will be shaping it for decades to come – will be to maintaining the proverbial wall separating church and state.

 
 

Reflection: The Trouble with the Future

In the context of the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, one journalist took the time to look back and see what the pundits said would happen next. No one, but no one, got it right. No one foresaw the rapid collapse of European communism and the demise of the Soviet Union. By 1991 The U.S.S.R. was no more, and no one saw this future with any degree of precision. Instead they got it wrong. The end of communism will be a long time coming. Wrong. If the Warsaw pact goes, so does NATO. Wrong. Germany will not be allowed to re-unite. Wrong. A united Germany will become a nuclear power before the end of the millennium. Wrong. Gorbachev will long continue. Wrong.

 
 

The Link Between Religious Freedom and Economic Freedom

Religious liberty and economic freedom draw on and encourage similar traits. New data on economic liberty and religious freedom suggest that religiously free societies encourage entrepreneurs whose new enterprises benefit themselves, their companies, employees, shareholders, consumers, stakeholders and the entire community. In other words, religiously free societies usually display the highest concentration of companies that generate prosperity and broad development. Closed religious systems foul economic development and stunt growth. Closed economic systems are unkind or worse to religious sentiments and practice. Open systems in both areas are necessary to sustain human flourishing. Hence, if we desire more economic freedom and prosperity, then we should have a strategy of promoting religious liberty. If we want economic growth and development, we need to tolerate and permit religious groups and persons to follow their beliefs. Competition for religious activity creates healthy conditions for economic competition and activity.

 
 

BREAKING NEWS: President Obama Creates New Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

By Derek H. Davis, J.D., Ph.D. Excerpt: "President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Thursday, February 5, to create the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office replaces the controversial Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives that George W. Bush created to provide government grants to churches and other faith-based organizations to administer welfare programs. "The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another–or even religious groups over secular groups," Obama stated when announcing the new office at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. The purpose, he said, “will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state."

 
 

BREAKING NEWS: President Obama Creates New Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

By Derek H. Davis, J.D., Ph.D. Excerpt: "President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Thursday, February 5, to create the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office replaces the controversial Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives that George W. Bush created to provide government grants to churches and other faith-based organizations to administer welfare programs. "The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another–or even religious groups over secular groups," Obama stated when announcing the new office at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. The purpose, he said, “will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state."

 
 

Embracing Exclusivity: How civic religion at inauguration abridges religious freedom

By Michael Newdow – EXCERPT: "Two months ago, when the American people chose Barack Obama to serve in the highest office in the land, it seemed that Homer Plessy's dream had finally been realized. America, we thought then, truly stands for the justice and equality guaranteed in its Constitution. Yet, in a few days, as our new president steps up to the inaugural podium, the reality will be that government-sanctioned favoritism – now for religion, instead of race – will continue."

 
 

ANALYSIS: The Apocalyptic struggle between Jefferson's Wall and the Church

By Bill Cork – EXCERPT: "Let's be careful that we speak not only of religious liberty, but that we uphold the American tradition of separation of church and state as well. It has served us well. It allows individuals to be guided by their own religious teachings and morals, but it does not give a privileged place to any church. It affirms the freedom of individuals to believe, and to act in accordance with those beliefs, without fear. If that freedom is threatened–and I agree with Stafford that it is–then the solution is not to tear down the wall, but to build it even higher."