On the Links: 4/20/06

A Captive Audience For Salvation, The Christian Science Monitor — America has the highest incarceration level in the world, and its prisons serve too consistently as revolving doors. Are faith-based programs in prisons the answer to these disturbing trends? Though not directly supported by President Bush’s faith-based initiative, CCA’s program poses the same questions about how to encourage positive change in people’s lives without privileging one form of religion with taxpayer dollars. Some also see potential political ramifications

‘Free Speech’ Cries On Campus Ring Hollow, USA Today — What is the role of free speech on college campuses? This article approaches the subject from the perspective of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. The cartoons aside, on many campuses, the right to free speech, however contentious, is under siege. The politically correct “speech codes” — forbidding speech that might offend one’s race, sexual orientation, religion, et al. — have been folded into codes of conduct under the continuing assumption by some students and administrators that there is a constitutional right not to be offended.

Century College’s administration — and indeed, all who wither amid such free speech controversies — should welcome a challenge from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

Exercising, Religiously, The Washington Post — Here’s a twisted motivation for church attendance: Could weekly religious attendance extend your life nearly as much as regular exercise or statins? That’s one way to view some new research by a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center physician, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The study jockeys numbers from life expectancy tables and mortality studies to suggest that weekly worship may add two to three years to life. That compares to three to five years for regular exercise and 2.5 to 3.5 years for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Study author Daniel Hall, who also happens to be an Episcopal priest, goes on to conduct a cost/benefit analysis. According to his estimate of the costs of tithing, gym membership and statins, while exercise is the best buy, religious attendance trumps statins in terms of years gained per dollar spent.

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