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Acton Notes - March 2007

Acton Wins Atlas Freedom Award

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation announced that Acton has won first place in the 2007 Templeton Freedom Prize for Excellence in Promoting Liberty in the category of Free Market Solutions to Poverty. This recognition comes with a $10,000 cash prize, which will be used to further Acton Media initiatives. The award marks the fourth year of the Templeton Freedom Awards, and it attracted a total of 200 applications from 53 countries, which were examined by independent judges.

Atlas staff and judges were impressed with Acton’s “Don’t Just Care. Think.”, a project produced as a response to the One Campaign, which tends to advocate a large government role in solving extreme poverty and AIDS. The project sets forth this question: If government spends billions on problems that only get worse, cannot know the individuals it tries to help, cannot love them, who can? The solution is you. Only with your involvement in private, local solutions can we ever hope to encounter human suffering and affect a real solution. You can view the Solutions project at www.acton.org/solutions.

On April 24, Acton and other winners will receive an award certificate at the Templeton Freedom Awards (April 24-26, 2007) at the Atlas Liberty Forum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The reception is organized especially for the winners and Atlas donors.

In addition, Acton will be featured among other winners in a booklet that includes basic information about the organizations and a synopsis of the winning programs.

Acton thanks Atlas for this great honor, as well as Acton Media staff, and all others for making this possible. Acton is especially grateful for the faith and friendship of our donors for giving us this opportunity to serve.

From Our Conference Participants

I had never before been in company so rich in scholarship and diverse in Christian tradition. It was really very nourishing and enriching. That conference has launched me into a deepening of learning about how economics and the moral law interact.

—Michael Sullivan
Ave Maria School of Law
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The lessons and friendships that I received at the conference will assist me in my further study and future career as an academic. Thank you for your very kind assistance and for having made my attendance at this thoroughly rewarding conference possible.

—Rachael Patterson
Columbia University
New York, New York

Novak Award Recipient

Andrea Schneider, recently appointed as an advisor to the office of Germany’s federal chancellor, Angela Merkel, is the winner of the 2007 Novak Award and its associated $10,000 prize.

Dr. Schneider studied economics at the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, where she taught and worked for the chair for economic policy in Nuremberg, Germany. Her dissertation received both the Hermann Gutmann Foundation Award and the Wolfgang Ritter Award. She went on to work as director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s economic policy group. At the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, she advised on topics like the labor market, health care, welfare reform, and the significance of human dignity in politics. She is currently an advisor on economic and political reform.

Named after distinguished American theologian and social philosopher Michael Novak, the Novak Award rewards new outstanding research by scholars early in their academic careers who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit in advancing the understanding of theology’s connection to human dignity, the importance of limited government, religious liberty, and economic freedom. Details may be found at www.acton.org/programs/students.

Open Mind. Insert Idea.

Another release of new idea advertisements are being published in magazines such as Legatus, Roll Call, Christianity Today, Crisis, World, and Michigan Catholic. As part of an effort to communicate the Acton message to broad audiences, Acton teamed up with advertising consultant Grey Matter Group.

The partnership resulted in an award-winning line of print advertisements that synthesize free-market economic truths with care for the oppressed and marginalized. New ads include “Holy Pie,” “Bridging the Gap,” “Will a ‘Living Wage’ Kill Juanita’s Job?” and “To Whom Would You Rather Lend?”

Dowload the ads now and enjoy a few lessons in economic compassion, share them with someone you know who may be “confused” about these issues, or just help spread the word! Visit www.acton.org/impact today.

Fellowships Open

Many cultures are exhibiting growing distrust and suspicion of economics, profit, limited government, rule of law, and free markets. Given this, there is a significant need to redeem these concepts by examining them in relation to theology, human dignity, and the principles of a free and virtuous society. To encourage such developments, the Acton Institute’s scholarship programs support future religious and intellectual leaders who show potential in advancing understanding of this relationship. The Acton Institute offers two programs to do this:

Calihan Fellowships: Scholarships and travel grants open to seminarians and graduate students studying theology, philosophy, economics, or related fields.

Centesimus Annus Scholarships: Scholarships and Travel grants for seminarians and graduate students studying theology, philosophy, economics, or related fields. Eligible applicants must be pursuing degrees in Rome or at pontifical universities throughout the world.

Deadlines: Academic deadlines are July 3 (fall term) and October 31 (spring term). There are no travel grant deadlines; the application period is ongoing.

From Skepticism, or Faith, to Freedom?

The Heartland Institute recently published a transcript of the well received October 5, 2006, debate between University of Chicago Law School professor Richard Epstein and Acton president Fr. Robert Sirico. The evening marked Heartland’s twenty-second anniversary benefit dinner in Chicago, where the organization is based. Dr. Epstein spoke from his framework as a skeptic defending the free market, and Fr. Sirico defended the same, but from the point of view of a religious believer.

Dr. Epstein, standing behind a podium that read “Skepticism” and Fr. Sirico, standing behind a podium reading “Faith,” had a remarkable exchange abounding with fascinating content.

Fr. Sirico: Let me answer at the outset the thoughts that I detect bubbling in some minds here tonight. Here I stand before you, a priest of the Roman Church. An incantation would suffice to dismiss my right to be on this platform: Galileo, Inquisition, Crusade. I do not deny these sad moments in my tradition’s past. Rather, I repent of them, as John Paul the Great repented of these and other sins at the outset of the liturgical season of Lent.

But I also take into consideration that the very matter by which we may judge the errors of the actions of Christians in the past forms the core of Christian moral understanding. That is, the morality with which we denounce coercive activity that would bend, or attempt to bend, the conscience of man at the behest of some ruler, autocrat, or theocrat, is at the heart of the Judeo-Christian religion. Christian morality forms the base of that which gives us the capacity to denounce the errors of Christianity itself.

Dr. Epstein: So if you look at what’s happening here, what do the property laws do? They allow religious groups to exclude. What do contract laws do? They allow them to create much denser networks of arrangements in which admission no longer depends simply on being a citizen, simply having a birth right—now it depends on there being a genuine agreement with respect to belief, so that all of you wish to come together with respect to the common religion, in which you have a part.

For your copy of Skepticism, Faith, and Freedom, visit www.acton.org/bookshoppe, or order with the form on the last inside page of this Acton Notes.

Acton and You

On January 25, Steve and Suzanne Cooper, with the support of Terry and Elzbieta Stapleton, hosted an Acton event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Tampa, Florida. Due to mechanical trouble on the plane, Fr. Sirico was unable to attend, but Acton staff and benefactors prepared a brief presentation in his absence. Our thanks go to those who helped make that possible, and to all the guests for their kindness and understanding.

On January 26, Fr. Sirico appeared as a guest speaker in Fort Myers, Florida, at the African Caribbean American Center of the Diocese of Venice (AFCAAM) appreciation luncheon. He emphasized how respect for human dignity changes lives, not government intervention, as exemplified by the work of AFCAAM in the Fort Myers black community. Fr. Sirico followed a brilliant talk by AFCAAM executive director Mr. Ismael Hernandez, an African Caribbean Christian who has dedicated himself to this cause.

Hernandez’s father was a socialist activist in Puerto Rico, but Hernandez came to recognize the destructiveness of the economic system, how it undermines local control, family, and faith, as well as institutions such as property, rule of law, and freedom.

On January 29, Mr. Jack and Mrs. Rhodora Donahue hosted a dinner at the Port Royal Club. Guests enjoyed the trailer of “Call of the Entrepreneur” and a keynote address by Fr. Sirico.