Twenty Things That Caught My Eye: Christians in China and Pakistan & More

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1. The Daily Mail: Two Christian women face the death penalty in Pakistan for removing a sticker carrying a verse from the Koran from a Muslim colleague’s locker they were asked to clean

2. New York Post: China ‘brainwashing’ Christians to renounce faith, report finds

Radio Free Asia relayed stories last week from a man given the pseudonym Li Yuese, who said he was beaten in a windowless room for nearly 10 months. 

Li said he was detained after authorities raided his house church in 2018. “There were no windows, no ventilation and no time allowed outside,” said Li. “I was given just two meals a day, which were brought to the room by a designated person.”

3.  The Economist: China wants to make its Christians more Chinese

Even for many of those who attend official churches, the five-year plan’s emphasis on the need to integrate Christian theology with socialist ideology is grating. It says quotations should be used by preachers to promote “core socialist values”. These principles should feature more prominently in their training. Interpretations of the Bible should become more sinified—meaning, presumably, that they should help to bolster belief in socialism.

4. Mark Regnerus: Arkansas and the Politics of Experimenting on Children

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Just last month, a pair of reports commissioned by the UK’s National Health Service was released, revealing yet again little evidence to suggest that puberty-blocking and gender-affirming hormonal treatments improve the mental health and psychosocial functioning of minors. The “clinical effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness” of such treatments just aren’t there, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) report found.

The evaluation was commissioned in the wake of the scandal at Tavistock—Britain’s only clinic serving transgender youth—which had witnessed not only a 4,400-percent increase in demand for its services, but a growing chorus of whistleblowing clinicians, and complaints about informed consent, quality of care, and subpar research protocols. The NICE assessment offers another refrain in the growing litany of reasons to be far more cautious about treating underage persons in a way that permanently alters bodies as a response to problems of the mind.

. . .

Sometimes, however, even trumpeted conclusions actually turn out to be null. A study appearing in the October 2019 edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry declared that “gender-affirming” surgery was associated with reduced demand for subsequent mental health treatment in a sample of Swedish adults diagnosed with “gender incongruence.” Although that conclusion eventually succumbed to a correction of the authors’ overreaching claims about the efficacy of surgical treatment on subsequent use of mental health services, the original version had already observed no effect of time since initiating hormone treatment on the likelihood of subsequently receiving mental health treatment. After the correction, the authors admitted that surgeries did not yield the anticipated benefit, either.

5. Jillian Kay Melchior: God and the Border Crisis: Churches play a vital role sheltering migrants, who are overwhelming U.S. and Mexican authorities.

6. London police ‘deeply regret’ aftermath of Good Friday liturgy shutdown

7. John Stonestreet: Rescuing the Victims of Trafficking

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9. Daily Mail: Melbourne schools are urged to stop saying ‘mum or dad’ in a push to be more ‘gender inclusive’ 

10. This land is sacred to the Apache, and they are fighting to save it

11. Matthew J. Franck: Don’t Eliminate the Filibuster — Restore and Reform It

Senator Sasse calls for his readers to “embrace debate,” but the effect of the modern filibuster in practice is that it has largely stifled debate. As we have already seen him say, “It takes 60 rather than 51 votes to get anything important done in the 100-person Senate.” The best case for the filibuster was the contribution it made to deliberation. But modern filibustering is not a means of engendering discussion, or even of delaying legislation in order to persuade the majority to rethink its priorities, either by giving up on legislation or modifying it in search of compromise. It is instead solely about obstruction. And the complete lack of cost in effort, publicity, or risk of opprobrium for those engaging in today’s non-deliberative filibuster means that they can do more than frustrate majority rule occasionally or temporarily. They can block majority rule, as and when they please, permanently, on a great many matters, especially the most important ones.

12. David Hoppe: The Filibuster Made the Civil Rights Act Possible

Writing in the Atlantic 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Michael O’Donnell observed: “In the years since, the act has been a remarkable success. Its acceptance in the south was surprisingly quick and widespread. In a stroke, the act demolished the rickety but persistent foundation for segregation and Jim Crow.”

Perhaps that had something to do with the way the act passed—not by a simple majority forcing its will on the minority but by allowing the two sides to argue their case at length, by allowing the legislative process of debate and amendment to proceed unhindered, by gathering the votes needed to show the country that it must change the law, by carrying the country along through the months of discussion and compromise, by fulfilling the highest expectations of the Founders, Mansfield, Dirksen and other senators built support for a law the country needed. In the words of Victor Hugo, quoted by Dirksen during the close of debate in 1964, “Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come.”

13. Howard Husock: Government Against Bourgeois Values

Encouraging drug use is only the latest in a string of anti-bourgeois virtue signals from government. In addition to state lotteries, with their manipulative get-rich-quick advertising, we also have state-sanctioned sports betting, which, like marijuana sales, provide revenue for state government. Indeed, in announcing support for permitting sports gambling in New York, Governor Cuomo made clear that the state would sanction whichever “gaming” enterprise pledged to provide the largest share of its revenue to Albany.

. . .

The list of public policies undermining bourgeois virtues goes on—and arguably includes stimulus checks (a.k.a. “stimmies”), based on the belief that income matters above all in ensuring comfort and joy. As McCloskey writes in The Bourgeois Virtues, “Whatever happiness of identity a painter earns may be measured by the income he gives up. But that does not make the happiness the same thing as income. The happiness is comparable to the happiness of identity a skillful truck driver earns or a skillful tennis player, whether poorly or well paid.” Any work, in other words, can offer the fulfillment either of a job well done or of something leading to a job one would prefer. A check in the mail can pay for groceries, but it cannot substitute for such fulfillment.

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15. Tweet by Jonathan Haidt: 

16. Ed West: Philip, Prince of Nowhere

Outrageous to some but endearing to others, [Philip] was the sort of man you’d want to go for a pint with, perhaps the ultimate compliment that an Englishman can pay to another Englishman.

. . .

. . . Philip was an outsider in a way that even Meghan Markle wasn’t; at his wedding in 1947, his three surviving sisters and two brothers-in-law were not permitted to attend because they were literally Britain’s enemies, having fought for the Germans. A third brother-in-law had even been in the SS, working directly for Himmler, but had been killed in the conflict.

That he was able to transform himself into the quintessential “Greatest Living Englishman” is testimony not just to his personal determination but also to the powerful cultural pull of Britishness. 

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18. New York Times: A Clash of Wills Keeps a Leonardo Masterpiece Hidden

The Louvre was so eager to include the “Salvator Mundi” in its anniversary exhibition that the curators planned to use an image of the painting for the front of its catalog, officials said.

But the Saudis’ insistence that the “Salvator Mundi” also be twinned with the “Mona Lisa” was asking too much, the French officials said.

Extraordinary security measures surrounding the “Mona Lisa” make the painting exceptionally difficult to move from its place on a special partition in the center of the Salle des États, a vast upstairs gallery. Placing a painting next to it would be impossible, the French officials argued.

19. To foster inclusiveness, Nigerian nuns mainstream pupils with disabilities

Part of the challenges children with special needs encounter stems from lack of awareness of learning disabilities coupled with teachers and parents who expect quick and miraculous solutions.

In a bid to address the challenge, a school of inclusive education run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul ensures that children with disabilities enjoy full access to education with no exclusion on grounds of disability, language, gender, ethnicity or any other barrier.

Sisters Scholastica Achinkumbur and Victoria George currently teach at the center and specialize in special education. Twenty teachers and nine auxiliary staff deliver inclusive education to more than 100 students.

20. Daily Mail: Adorable moment girl with Down syndrome, 2, kisses and cradles a doll that looks like her after being given the toy as a birthday present

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