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  • Commentary posted May 1, 2012 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Seeking the Welfare of the City

    Conservatives are often portrayed as selfish scrooges who only care about their own bottom lines. But when it comes to truly meeting people’s needs, they’re the leaders of the pack. Star Parker knew poverty personally. As a young drug addict in southern California, she lacked money, employment and hope. At one point, she was arrested for helping to rob…

  • Issue Brief posted April 18, 2012 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Obamacare, Religious Liberty, and Civil Society: What the Debate Is Really About

    The recent Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate under Obamacare, requiring nearly all insurance plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization, has sparked heated debate across the country. Although proponents of Obamacare have attempted to frame the debate differently, one question remains fundamentally at issue: Can the federal government…

  • Commentary posted January 25, 2012 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Justice, Inequality, and the Poor

    After a financial crisis, a deep recession, and a stalled recovery, it should be no surprise that poverty in America is on the rise. This fall, the Census Bureau reported that a record 46 million Americans — 15% of the population — were living below the poverty line. This is a troubling figure, and it should certainly move us to act to help the poor as we strive to grow…

  • WebMemo posted January 10, 2012 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Questions About Religion on the Campaign Trail

    As Americans exercise their right to vote in presidential primaries, caucuses, and conventions, candidates face questions from voters on a wide range of issues, including religious faith. When it comes to this issue, what should they be looking for? Which questions about religion are most helpful in selecting a President? Faith and the Formulation of…

  • Commentary posted December 22, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. 2011 Was the Year of Simplistic Sentiments

    When it came to poverty and the federal budget, 2011 was the Year of Simplistic Sentiments. Many religious leaders sought to influence the national discussion about budget cuts and how they would affect poor Americans. Some made a helpful contribution, but the overall debate left much to be desired. Instead of discerning dialogue, we often got moralistic maxims…

  • Commentary posted December 22, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Beyond Simplistic Sentiments on Poverty and the Budget

    When it came to poverty and the federal budget, 2011 was the Year of Simplistic Sentiments. Many religious leaders sought to influence the national discussion about budget cuts and how they would affect poor Americans. Some made a helpful contribution, but the overall debate left much to be desired. Instead of discerning dialogue, we often got moralistic maxims…

  • Commentary posted December 21, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. The Bigger Gift in Giving

    Christmastime is a season of gratitude. Whether it’s because we reflect upon the birth of the Christ child or the blessings of the past year, the holiday often prompts a sense of appreciation and thankfulness as well as the tradition of gift-giving. And this year, the season of giving and receiving gifts comes in sharp contrast to a succession of months pervaded with…

  • Commentary posted December 19, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Justice, Inequality, and the Poor

    After a financial crisis, a deep recession, and a stalled recovery, it should be no surprise that poverty in America is on the rise. This fall, the Census Bureau reported that a record 46 million Americans — 15% of the population — were living below the poverty line. This is a troubling figure, and it should certainly move us to act to help the poor as we strive to grow…

  • WebMemo posted October 4, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Religious Freedom Is Not Just for Churches

    On October 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a very important case concerning religious freedom. Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC has to do with which employees of a church-run school count as ministers and, thus, whose employment status lies within the sphere of that church’s autonomy. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court…

  • Ryan Messmore on Religion and Politics: Heritage in Focus Podcast Audio Recorded on August 31, 2011 Ryan Messmore on Religion and Politics: Heritage in Focus Podcast

    In this week's Heritage in Focus podcast, Ryan Messmore discusses the role of religion in politics, policy and discourse. David Weinberger hosts. To get regular updates on Heritage in Focus podcasts, visit our RSS feed or subscribe on iTunes. To listen to more Heritage in Focus podcasts, return to the Podcast page.…

  • Commentary posted July 22, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. America’s Marriage Debate Depends on Civil Society

    As recent events in New York show, the marriage debate in America takes place amid serious political and legal fault lines. But efforts to defend and strengthen this bedrock institution ultimately depend on how marriage is understood, articulated, and practiced in civil society.As an undergraduate at Duke University, I spent the better part of senior year preparing for…

  • PODCAST: Ryan Messmore on Father's Day Audio Recorded on June 17, 2011 PODCAST: Ryan Messmore on Father's Day

    Ryan Messmore discusses the importance of fathers in the home and in American society. Hannah Sternberg hosts. To get regular updates on Heritage in Focus podcasts, visit our RSS feed or subscribe on iTunes. To listen to more Heritage in Focus podcasts, return to the Podcast page.…

  • Commentary posted June 16, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Thinking Locally

    Is strengthening marriage a church or state affair? Both church and nation-state. How should Christians do better? Christians should do a better job preparing the emerging generation for courtship, marriage, and sex. We should be able to talk about these things ­candidly in the body of Christ. Sadly, in many churches today the larger culture exercises more…

  • Commentary posted June 10, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Moral Principles for a Healthy American Economy

    A healthy economy enables citizens to fulfill their basic obligations—moral as well as financial.  These obligations include providing for themselves and their families and fulfilling responsibilities to the poor and to future generations.  The federal tax system plays an important role in shaping the American economy.  Many of the moral principles necessary for a…

  • Commentary posted May 15, 2011 by Ryan Messmore, D.Phil. Civil Society: Key to Fighting Poverty, Expanding Opportunity

    Many conservatives fault government welfare programs for being too expensive or for running afoul of the proper constitutional boundaries. But there’s another point to consider: Civil society offers better hope and opportunity for escaping poverty than any government program can. Advocating limited government goes hand in hand with trusting in the capacity of institutions…