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Skewed

How an Influential Campus Rape Study Skewed the Debate by Robby Soave.

Widely cited study relies on surveys that don’t actually have anything to do with on-campus sexual assaults.

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Dying

Dying for Christianity: Millions at Risk amid Rise in Persecution Across the Globe by Harriet Sherwood.

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

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Adam

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Adam and Eve by Karl Giberson.

Where did this creation story originate? Who takes it seriously? And more.

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Keys

4 Keys to Happiness by Suzanne Degges-White.

Happiness is a state of being, not a stack of stuff.

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Hate

Why Does The Republican Party Exist? by Ben Domenech.

Why does the Republican Party exist? What is its purpose as a political entity – to what end do its members work to elect their fellow Republicans? What are its priorities? Whose interests does it serve? Why is this political party still around so long after its primary motivations for creation – the defense of the Union and the end of slavery – were achieved? The Democratic Party exists to serve its clients – but the Republican Party’s justification is more ethereal. Is it just an arbitrary entity seeking a universal negative, designed to push back against Democratic policies and demand they be more something (efficient) or less something else (expensive)? Or does it have actual principles and priorities it seeks to make a reality?

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Related: Here’s Why Republicans Hate The Republican Party by David Harsanyi.

If the GOP is incapable of making a compelling case against Planned Parenthood, Iran, or Ex-Im then, really, what exactly can it do?

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Immortality

What Dante, Tolkien, and Harry Potter Fan Fiction Can Teach Us about the Contemporary Quest for Immortality by Joseph Simmons.

From Dante to Tolkien to Harry Potter fan fiction, mankind has been tempted by the desire to transcend human limitations. This impulse is dangerous, but its dangers are not inexplicable.

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Bullies

Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice by Aristotelis Orginos.

Social justice, as a concept, has existed for millennia—at least as long as society has had inequity and inequality and there were individuals enlightened enough to question this. When we study history, we see, as the American Transcendentalist Theodore Parker famously wrote, “the arc [of the moral universe]…bends towards justice.” And this seems relatively evident when one looks at history as a single plot line. Things improve. And, if history is read as a book, the supporters of social justice are typically deemed the heroes, the opponents of it the villains.

And perhaps it’s my liberal heart speaking, the fact that I grew up in a liberal town, learned US history from a capital-S Socialist, and/or went to one of the most liberal universities in the country, but I view this is a good thing. The idea that societal ills should be remedied such that one group is not given an unfair advantage over another is not, to me, a radical idea.

But millennials are grown up now—and they’re angry. As children, they were told that they could be anything, do anything, and that they were special. As adults, they have formed a unique brand of Identity Politics wherein the groups with which one identifies is paramount. With such a strong narrative that focuses on which group one belongs to, there has been an increasing balkanization of identities. In an attempt to be open-minded toward other groups and to address social justice issues through a lens of intersectionality, clear and distinct lines have been drawn between people. One’s words and actions are inextricable from one’s identities. For example: this is not an article, but an article written by a straight, white, middle-class (etc.) male (and for this reason will be discounted by many on account of how my privilege blinds me—more on this later).

And while that’s well and good (that is—pride in oneself and in one’s identity), the resulting sociopolitical culture among millennials and their slightly older political forerunners is corrosive and destructive to progress in social justice. And herein lies the problem—in attempting to solve pressing and important social issues, millennial social justice advocates are violently sabotaging genuine opportunities for progress by infecting a liberal political narrative with, ironically, hate.

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Compassion

In Marriage, It’s Compassion or Resentment by Steven Stosny.

The only middle ground is numbness.

More at PT.

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Time

Is There Such Thing as the Beginning and End of Time? by Tosin Thompson.

In homage to the 60th anniversary of the world’s first atomic clock, it’s time to ask what time actually is and whether it even exists.

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Persuasion

CT interviews Os Guinness, author of the new book, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.

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Capital

Tennessee Is the Capital of American Jihad by James Kitfield.

Tennessee seems an unlikely birthplace for American jihad. Yet long before the five U.S. service members were murdered this past week in Chattanooga, before the Boston Marathon bombers, the Fort Hood shooting or the rise of the Islamic State, it was another troubled teenager from the same state who embarked on a journey of jihad and ended in the first deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil after 9/11.

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Bromide

The Empty Bromide of Religious Neutrality by Marc DeGirolami.

The history of American public education may be told as a history of gradual secularization driven not by religious neutrality but religious enthusiasm.

In the American colonies and well into the nineteenth century, the churches took primary charge of education. Even where public schools were established, their curriculum was distinctively Christian. Early nineteenth century Massachusetts schools were at first colored by a kind of pietistic Calvinism, after which there was an effort to diminish their distinctive Congregationalism. Horace Mann, that emblem of the early development of the government school, himself supported “religious instruction in our schools to the extremest verge to which it can be carried without invading those rights of conscience which are established by the laws of God and guaranteed by the Constitution of the State [of Massachusetts].”[1]

Church education was thus fitfully replaced by varieties of government sponsored and administered Christian education. As time passed, the quality of the religious instruction became progressively diluted—less religiously specific, certainly, but not less specifically religious. Justice Frankfurter once praised the public school as “a symbol of our secular unity,”[2] but he might have more precisely described it as a symbol of our religious division. The increasing secularity of public education grew not so much from the struggle between rival advocates of secular and religious education as from disagreement about the properly religious character of the government school—about the sort of religion needed to sustain the republic.

In the contemporary period, as the liberal Protestantism of the public school has been drained of any vestigial Protestantism, there remains only the liberalism as the embodiment of the nation’s civic ideals. Like all government organs, public schools are now bound by the Supreme Court’s constitutional injunction not to “endorse” religion in ways that make non-adherents feel like political outsiders (at least, so the political insiders have it). The secular projects and aspirations of the liberal state sustain the American polity.

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Dysfunctional

The Dysfunctional Federal Workforce by Chloe Booth & Kevin R. Kosar.

The Survey on the Future of Government Service, released last week by Vanderbilt University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, reveals significant problems with the federal workforce. According to the data, collected from 3,551 federal executives, the civil service is struggling to recruit and retain America’s best and brightest — and agencies are plagued by underperforming employees who are difficult to fire.

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Community

How The ‘Nones’ Can Find A Sense Of Community Outside Of Religion by Antonia Blumberg.

The “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated, are a rapidly growing “faith” group in the United States. They make up roughly 23 percent of the U.S. adult population and 35 percent of millennials and can be seen cropping up across demographic categories.

As the global population continues growing exponentially, the percentage of “nones” is expected to decline, though their actual numbers will increase. This won’t be the case in Europe and North America, however, where the percentage of “nones” will likely continue to rise.

The “nones” now constitute the second largest faith-related demographic in the U.S. and are bound to have a powerful impact on American culture and politics as the years go on, as religion scholar Diane Winston wrote recently in Vice. Religious leaders, writers and scholars are tasked with understanding this rising trend, as “nones” seek out new forms of community.

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End?

Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East? by Eliza Griswold.

ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight.

More at the NYT.

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War

The Politicians’ War on Uber by John Stossel.

When politicians threaten to destroy innovative companies, they’re threatening us all.

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Videos

What Should Be Made of the Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos? by Laurie Zoloth.

It is indeed terrible to watch: A doctor arrives for lunch, breezily chats about L.A. traffic, casually gives out medical advice (drink water if you have a headache and are having alcohol), and then sits down for a lunch chat: salad, red wine, and abortion.

The video, distributed in two versions—an edited tape of about 9 minutes, and three-hour tape of the entire conversation—is then posted on the Internet, and becomes the focal point for an intense debate about abortion. The debate spills over, in conservative circles, to death threats, Nazi parallels, and now a congressional investigation of the event. Planned Parenthood—the employer and the largest provider of clinical abortions in the county—issues a statement calling the practices described legal. Then, after more criticism, including the outrage of bioethicists, two days later the organization agrees that the doctor’s tone is not reflective of compassion.

But after the first video is released, a second video is released a week later, and it is even more explicitly disturbing: another doctor, another meal, and more talk about money, secretly filmed (one wonders how many Planned Parenthood executives were swept up in this scheme). In this video, a woman identified as Dr. Mary Gatter, a medical director for Planned Parenthood, starts by giving a price of $75, then $50, to cover the costs of preparing fetal tissue. She jokes that she “wants a Lamborghini” in a particularly cringe-worthy moment. Perhaps the very worst ethical problem is when she discusses changing the abortion procedure—despite noting there are consent forms to make no such change—to retain a more intact specimen. “We’re not in it for the money,” she says, adding, “We don’t want to be in the position of being accused of selling tissue.”

What can be made of this entire story, of the videos, with their grisly description of how tiny liver, heart, and muscle tissue are taken from aborted fetuses and shipped to tissue companies?

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Bombshell

Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning by Eric Holthaus.

In what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels.

The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, brings new importance to a feedback loop in the ocean near Antarctica that results in cooler freshwater from melting glaciers forcing warmer, saltier water underneath the ice sheets, speeding up the melting rate. Hansen, who is known for being alarmist and also right, acknowledges that his study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates. In a conference call with reporters, he said he hoped the new findings would be “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.” I certainly find them to be.

More at Slate.

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Problem

Mormonism and the Problem of Jon Krakauer by Max Perry Mueller.

Jon Krakauer got lucky. When Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith first went on sale in the summer of 2003, Krakauer hoped that the many sins of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) he set out to expose would not go unpunished forever. And he certainly believed that his own book—framed as muckraking of faith gone bad—would help bring this day of reckoning forward. Yet Krakauer couldn’t have imagined the FLDS Church would soon become headline news for much of the next decade. In 2004, child sexual molestation charges against the FLDS Church’s reclusive prophet Warren Jeffs made him one of the most notorious men in America. Krakauer also could not have foreseen that Jeffs’ subsequent trials and police raids of FLDS communities in Utah and Texas would overlap with Mitt Romney’s two presidential campaigns, not to mention with the hit Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. The fact that the “Mormon fundamentalist moment” of the aughts intersected with the latest “Mormon moment” in American history helped make Under the Banner of Heaven the bestselling book on Mormon history in recent memory.

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Poverty

Sorry, Paul Krugman: The Minimum Wage Won’t Miraculously Cure Poverty by Diana Furchtgott-Roth.

Paul Krugman stated in The New York Times today that “there’s just no evidence that raising the minimum wage costs jobs, at least when the starting point is as low as it is in modern America.” To support his position, he cites studies by University of California professor David Card and Princeton University professor Alan Krueger.

Some commentators want a $12 minimum wage, as proposed by President Obama, a 66 percent increase. Others, such as the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and New York Communities for Change, want a $15 minimum wage, a more than 100 percent increase.

If raising the minimum wage were cost-free, why stop at $10 or $15 an hour? Why not go straight to $25 an hour, the average hourly wage? That might be considered fair, because no one would have to earn less than today’s average.

The answer, of course, is because some people are displaced at any minimum wage. It is obvious to the general public that increasing the minimum wage to $25 an hour would displace workers. It is less obvious when amounts are smaller. But when the minimum wage is raised, employers hire higher-skilled people, or switch to different forms of technology such as placing orders through touch screens.

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