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Tax exemption and religious nonprofits


Visitors to this site have not doubt seen suggestions that churches should lose their tax exempt status, especially when church leaders make political prouncements. Well, it looks like one state may try it: Kansas wants sales tax from religious nonprofits.

Anyone who has looked at a state budget recently though sees this as an economic move and not particularly ideological. Kansas is looking at nearly a $500 million budget shortfall next fiscal year, and the bill in question also removes the sales tax exemption for residential utilities, lottery tickets, some recreational fees, public libraries and several other categories.

Proponents of the bill say it will net an additional $169 million a year.

Watch your waste


The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 27 percent of all food (by weight) produced for people in the United States is either thrown away or used for a lower-value purpose, such as feeding animals.

According to a recent study, the average American household wastes 14 percent of its food purchases. But it's not just the food that is being wasted -- all of the water and energy that went into producing, packaging and transporting the discarded food also goes to waste.

Most of this food waste ends up in landfills, where it releases methane pollution as it decomposes, further contributing to global warming.


Purchase only the amount of food that you are able to consume before it expires.
Compost your food waste. Get tips from Natural Resource Defense Council's OnEarth magazine.

Moral Idiocy in Denver


It is a first principle of Catholic moral theology that the sins of the fathers are not visited upon their sons. Perhaps, it was with an eye to gender specificity that the Archdiocese of Denver decided to boot a pre-schooler – yes, a pre-schooler – out of one of their schools because the child’s parents are lesbians. It is only the sins of the mothers that are visited upon children.

In explaining its decision, the Archdiocese of Denver posted a note on their website that states, in part: “Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment. To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home.”

Dear Mother Millea, We are so excited by your visit


Several NCR staff members have received the following "letter to Mother Millea" in e-mails. The people sending them have urged us to put this online. What they apparently did not know is that this "letter" started with us online!

It first appeared as a comment on the story Apostolic Visitator details on-site visit guidelines (Look for it about half way down the second page of comments.)

But as a service to readers, we reprint it here:

When international cooperation works


This weekend witnessed a beautiful example of what can happen when international cooperation works well. Millions of people benefit.

I heard it on a BBC broadcast:

A campaign has been launched to eradicate polio in west and central Africa, targeting 85 million children.

Some 400,000 health workers and volunteers will go from door-to-door in 19 countries, giving oral polio vaccine to children under the age of five.

This particular report did not mention how Catholic groups, dioceses and parishes were involved, but you can just about bet they were. Anyone know about Catholic participation in these program?

Mar. 8, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, Priest, Poet


"Good people have told me that my writing is crude and brutal. I would remind you that it is not, and it could not be as crude as war, or as brutal as a battle. The brutality of war is literally unutterable. There are no words foul and filthy enough to describe it. Yet I would remind you that this indescribably filthy thing is the commonest thing in history, and that if we believe in a God of love at all, then we must believe in the face of war and all it means."

-Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, quoted in Celebrating the Saints: Devotional Readings for Saints' Days, by Robert Atwell and Christopher L. Webber, Morehouse, 2001

Morning Briefing


Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen


I write barely in advance of the witching hour when the Academy of Motion Pictures, a name more revered than the National Academy of Science, hands out its immortal trophies.

The ritual polishes off a drum roll that has lasted for weeks. If you haven't been asked whether you prefer "The Hurt Locker" to "Avatar" for best picture, you should feel socially insecure.

In case it's not crystal clear, I'm not a fan. The reason I mention it is because the Oscar season runs in rough symmetry with Lent and Easter. At the risk of concocting some direct contrasts rather than reporting on them, I'd suggest the following.

The Oscars epitomize the triumph of glamor and hubris served up by products made by their own hands in fierce competition with one another and ultimately aimed at profit.

All of which contrasts obscenely with the themes of the Christian season when such counter cultural rubrics as repentence, humility and, ultimately, self-sacrifice move through worship and practice.


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In This Issue

January 29-February 11, 2016


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