James R. Rogers is department head and associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He leads the “New Man” prison ministry at the Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

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The Conservative Principle in Obama’s Refusal to Act

From First Thoughts

Conservatives have been critiquing President Obama’s proposed executive amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. But the principle underlying the proposal is one that conservatives might want to accept rather than criticize. He is refusing, under certain conditions, to take action authorized by law. That is, he is choosing to allow certain categories of private action to stand by refusing to apply authorized responses. Continue Reading »

Why Textualism is Winning

From First Thoughts

Harvard’s Cass Sunstein rearticulated criticisms of “originalism”—the theory that judges should construe legal texts using the original public meaning of its words—in a Bloomberg op-ed piece last week. While critical of conservative originalism, Sunstein does not reject the entire approach outright. Sunstein, like Jack M. Balkin in his 2011 book, Living Originalism, seeks to wrest the idea originalism from the proprietary hands of conservative legal authorities like U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Continue Reading »

Lutheran Evangelicals

From Web Exclusives

Why is Calvinism so influential among American Evangelicals while Lutheranism is not? We might describe the statistically modal convert to Calvinism—that is, the most frequently observed kind of convert—as a person like this: A young adult, usually male. Raised in a broad though indistinct Evangelical (and sometimes nominally Catholic) home. Bright. A reader. Searching for better intellectual answers to questions about God, Jesus and the Bible. Is open to becoming a pastor. Why does this young man so much more often become a Calvinist instead a Lutheran? Continue Reading »

Conservatism, Evangelii Gaudium, and the Social Market

From Web Exclusives

Liberal commentators, both religious and secular, have cheered what they take as the recent comeuppance Catholic and other religious conservatives received in the sections of Evangelii Gaudium, the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation, that touch on market economics. While the cackling is partly unjustified, it is also partly justified. . . . Continue Reading »

What’s Behind the Stunning Decrease in Global Poverty?

From Web Exclusives

Economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research released a working paper in 2009 on global poverty concluding that the world had seen a significant decrease in extreme poverty—defined at the time as living on $1 or less per day—between 1970 and 2006. While even a significant decrease in extreme poverty still leaves much room for additional gains, the decrease in rates of extreme poverty during this period of time is stunning. . . . Continue Reading »

Ecclesiastical Exceptionalism

From Web Exclusives

Americans are disengaging from communities, at least if the evidence proffered by scholars like Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone is to be believed. This may have a class dimension as well. Charles Murray and First Things’ own editor, R.R. Reno, suggest that community is disintegrating more rapidly, and with harsher consequences, among folks in the lower socioeconomic strata in the U.S… . Continue Reading »

It’s Not Theology, It’s Ideology

From First Thoughts

Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, posted this YouTube video criticizing the shutdown of non-essential parts of the U.S. national government as “unbiblical.” Wallis’s argument is three-fold. First, he posits the factual claim that the government of the United States . . . . Continue Reading »

Credit the Calvinists

From Web Exclusives

I picked up John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion some years back. Dipping into it, I anticipated a dry, grim, and doctrinaire treatise. Perhaps because I came to it with such low expectations, the books surprised me. I found the Institutes surprisingly accessible, written by a lively, engaged mind… . Continue Reading »

The Politics of Subgame Perfection

From Web Exclusives

There has been a spate of editorials and columns”even a book”criticizing Republicans in Congress for being “radical,” “crazy,” “extremist,” and focused on the GOP “brand” rather than on “problem solving.” Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein’s 2012 book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, exemplified and encouraged much of this criticism. Mann and Ornstein”both stolid fixtures of the Washington policy establishment”make the argument that the Republican Party bears unique responsibility for what ails Washington and the nation… . Continue Reading »