July 29, 2010
Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging Invites Applications for Grant Program
Philanthropy News Digest today reported that the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging is inviting applications for its 2010-2011 Academic Research Grant Program. According to the Digest, the program "is intended to further scholarship about new or improved public policies, laws, and/or programs that will enhance the quality of life for the elderly (including those who are poor or otherwise isolated by lack of education, language, culture, disability, or other barriers)."
The Digest continues:
The center expects grantees to meet the objectives of the grant program through individual or collaborative research projects that analyze and recommend changes in one or more important existing public policies, laws, and/or programs relating to the elderly; or anticipate the need for and recommend new public policies, laws, and/or programs for the elderly necessitated by changes in the number and demographics of the country's and the world's elderly populations, by advances in science and technology, by changes in the healthcare system, or by other developments. Each grant recipient is required to publish an article on the subject of their research in a first-rate journal.
[In the past,] scholars in the fields of health, law, medicine, and sociology have been awarded grants. The program is open to all interested and qualified legal, health sciences, social sciences, and gerontology scholars and professionals. Two or more individuals in the same institution or different institutions may submit a collaborative proposal. Grant recipients must be U.S. citizens or legal residents of the U.S. and must be affiliated with a U.S.-based institution or organization.
The grant program annually awards up to four one-year grants of $20,000 each.
Application materials are available at the Borchard Foundation Web site.
July 27, 2010
Tennessee Official: Islam May Be a Cult
In a post on today's The Lede, Robert McKay reports that Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, who hopes to win the Republican nomination for governor in next month's primary, was recently asked by a constituent to explain his position on the “threat that’s invading our country from the Muslims.” According to McKay, the Lieutenant Governor responded, “I’m all about freedom of religion,” then went on to cast doubt on Islam’s credentials as a religion by saying: "You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it."
Mr. Ramsey’s comments about Islam were made on July 14, the same day as a demonstration against the planned construction of an Islamic center outside the town of Murfreesboro. According to a report in the Murfreesboro’s Daily News Journal, about five hundred people gathered to protest the new building, “but the majority of the crowd was already waiting, bearing signs that said, ‘I love my Muslim neighbors’ and ‘Freedom of religion.’ ”
On Monday, Mr. Ramsey responded to a request for comment from Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo by writing in an e-mail message, “My concern is that far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion.”
He added, “It’s time for American Muslims who love this country to publicly renounce violent jihadism and to drum those who seek to do America harm out of their faith community.”
Mr. Ramsey's statements are not isolated. Politicians like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have recently objected to plans for an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, not far from the site of the World Trade Center.
According to a report by Maggie Hyde of the Religion News Service, one Florida church has even announced plans to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, with “International Burn a Quran Day.” Ms. Hyde explained:
The Dove World Outreach Center, a nondenominational church in Gainesville, has marked the date in previous years with protests against Islam. The church holds protests on other issues, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion.
Church Pastor, Terry Jones, who is also the author of a book titled Islam is of the Devil, said protests are key to the mission of his church. “We feel, as Christians, one of our jobs is to warn,” says Pastor Jones. He opines that the goal of these and other protests are to give Muslims an opportunity to convert.
Stories like these are troubling. What have we come to, I wonder? Whatever happened to the notion of America being a melting pot for all peoples? Are these days history?
July 26, 2010
Professor Fish Addresses Christian Legal Society v. Martinez -- Again
In a post on today's Opinionator (the Online Commentary from the New York Times), Professor Stanley Fish returns to a discussion of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. ____ (2010), in which the Supreme Court upheld Hastings Law School's right to withhold official recognition from a Christian group that restricted its membership to co-believers who not only talked the talk but walked the walk as far as Christianity was concerned. Professor Fish addressed the issue in his post last week, arguing that "[u]nder cover of 'neutrality,' Hastings, with the [Supreme Court] majority’s approval, is imposing the goals and ideology of liberal multiculturalism on the very diverse members of the law school’s community."
This week, he states in part:
Lurking in the background of . . . cases [like C.L.S. v. Martinez] is the question of exactly what a religion is. The courts do not confront that question directly — how could they? what would be their expertise? — but when even-handed treatment becomes the rule in aid and burdens on free exercise must be tolerated if imposing them was not the law’s affirmative intention, an answer has implicitly been given: religion is just another discourse, no different than any other. That is to say, religion is not special; it is not special in the negative sense implied by the establishment clause, which by its very existence announces, “watch out, this stuff is trouble”; and it is not special in the positive sense declared by the free exercise clause, which seems to announce, “this is something the state must protect.” The evisceration of the establishment clause gets religion in the door but at the expense of its unique status; the neutering or “neutraling” of the free exercise clause completes the denial to religion of the label “special.”
In the final analysis, Professor Fish presents what he sees as the current dilemma:
Religious organizations face a choice between altering their core beliefs or forfeiting privileges enjoyed by others. The liberal state and its institutions face a choice between being faithful to the democratic principle of open access or closing the liberal door to those who are illiberal.
The dilemma is sharpened and even rendered poignant by the fact that liberalism very much wants to believe that it is being fair to religion, but what it calls fairness amounts to cutting religion down to liberal size. That is what the majority in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez does when it invokes the limited forum doctrine, which, according to a line of cases, should have protected C.L.S.’s expressive rights of association, but does not because expressive association is declared to be trumped by the value of non-discrimination.
Professor Fish's pieces on the case make interesting reading. I highly recommend them.
Kellogg Foundation Awards Unprecedented $42 Million Challenge Grant to Cal Poly Pomona
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation today announced an award of $42 million for an endowment at Cal Poly Pomona to increase access to educational opportunities. The grant represents the largest cash gift in the history of the California State University system.
“In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of our founder,W.K. Kellogg, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is proud that this grant will benefit Cal Poly Pomona in its efforts to extend and bolster educational opportunities for current and aspiring students,” said Sterling K. Speirn, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Mr. Kellogg was a strong believer in higher education, and his vision of ‘investing in people’ has translated into the foundation’s fundamental belief that access to a high-quality education is vital to enhancing the lives of vulnerable youth.”
According to a statement released by the Kellogg Foundation, "This challenge grant, to be given over five years, significantly bolsters the university’s ability to reach out and serve underrepresented communities in Southern California, including first-generation college students and their families, military veterans and emancipated foster youth."
Responding to the announcement, University President Michael Ortiz said: "This will be transformational. With these resources we will be able to change lives and contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the region. The CSUs have long been the gateway to opportunity for generations of Californians, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is helping to ensure that the gateway remains open.”
The gift comes at a challenging time for public universities in California, with state support shrinking and concern over the future of higher education growing. Kellogg believes that with this contribution to the university’s endowment, "the foundation is making an important investment in expanding access to education for all students."
Speirn further stated: "The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's mission is to support children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. As the twelfth most ethnically diverse university in the United States, Cal Poly Pomona's deep commitment to and track record of providing access to quality college education for students of color strongly aligns with the foundation's work to support racial healing and to remove systemic barriers that hold some children back."
July 25, 2010
Save the Children: Majority of States Unprepared to Protect Children During Disasters
According to a new report from Save the Children, almost five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and displaced more than 160,000 children, the vast majority of states are still not fully prepared to protect children in disasters.
The report reveals that fewer than one quarter of all states and the District of Columbia have enacted four basic safeguards to protect children who are in school or child care centers during disasters, such as requiring all licensed child care centers to have a plan to reunite children with their families and requiring schools to have a clear written evacuation plan in place.
The report, the second disaster preparedness report issued through Save the Children's U.S. Programs unit, found that 38 states and the District of Columbia have yet to enact four basic safeguards to protect children who are in school or child care during disasters, including requiring all licensed child care centers to have a plan to reunite children with their families and requiring schools to have a clear written evacuation plan. Twelve states, including Mississippi and Alabama, met all standards; seven states met none.
According to Save the Children, more than 5,000 children were reported missing after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with the last child found six months later; some 50,000 Louisiana and Mississippi children missed the 2005-06 school year while 15,000 failed to attend school during the 2006-07 school year; and more than a third of Louisiana children experienced clinically diagnosed depression, anxiety, or behavior disorders after the storm.
"Five years after Hurricane Katrina, it is unacceptable for dozens of states to ignore these low-cost and common-sense safeguards for kids," said Mark Shriver, Save the Children U.S. Programs senior vice president. "There are sixty-seven million kids in school or child care on any given day, separated from their families and dependent on others for protection. The most vulnerable Americans in the most vulnerable settings are made even more vulnerable because of government inaction."
Truly, this is a sad commentary.