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Acton Notes - June 2008

Rev. Sirico Delivers Krieble Lecture

President Rev. Robert A. Sirico delivered the Krieble Lecture at the Annual Heritage Foundation Resource Bank Meeting on April 24 in Atlanta. His talk ranged widely over “the simple idea of human liberty” and what is required to preserve it. The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. “The state limited as it must be, exists for man, and not man for the state,” said Rev. Sirico. He noted that this idea has a long philosophical heritage and pedigree, and that it must be defended by every generation.

The Heritage Foundation’s Annual Resource Bank Meeting gathers more than 500 think - tank executives, public interest lawyers, policy experts, and elected officials from around the world to discuss issues, strategies, and methods for advancing free-market, limited government public policies. The Resource Bank is conducted in partnership with groups such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, State Policy Network, and World Taxpayers Associations.

Rev. Sirico’s moving address on human liberty appealed to the value of moral and religious influence. “It was Christendom, despite all of its fallible human leaders, where freedom was fully born.” Man is “vivified by the breath of life. He is the bearer of eternal because he has an immortal destiny beyond this world.” Rev. Sirico also talked about the universal dignity and image of the person. “All reality is one reality, all truth is one truth. Our universe is created by one source that created us ex nihilo. The link between a good society and a free one is easy to establish, and even a good one is not easy to maintain,” he said. You can listen to Rev. Sirico’s address at Acton’s Powerblog Web site.

What Should Christians Think About Global Warming?

Dr. Jay Richards lectured on “What Should Christians Think About Global Warming?” The lecture occurred on April 17 at the Wealthy Street Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “This is God’s world and we as stewards are held responsible for how we treat the environment,” Dr. Richards said. “The controversy surrounding this issue is whether global warming is caused by humans. Are we causing it? If there is no cause by humans then there is no policy solution. But if we are, then there is the presence of a moral issue and perhaps then there is a need for political and policy solutions,” he added.

During the lecture he emphasized that we are in a slight warming period. This trend started in the middle of the nineteenth century. Dr. Richards believes a slight rise in temperatures by a few degrees might be better for humans on earth, and the planet as well. He also expressed skepticism in the United Nations Kyoto Protocol Treaty, which would cost the worldwide economy between 10-50 trillion dollars by 2050. The figures come from the Copenhagen consensus, which focuses on the international community’s effort to solve the world’s biggest challenges and on how to do this in the most cost-efficient manner. If the United States signed on to the treaty, the nation would be pledging to reduce our CO2 emissions by 5 percent of our 1990 output. Dr. Richards says the problem with the plan is that even if all the nations signed on to the treaty it would do virtually nothing to slow down a temperature increase. The difference would be a 0.07 Celsius temperature gap by 2050. “Most of us in the United States are unaware of all the environmental progress we have made in the last hundred years,” Dr. Richards added. He referenced the reduction of deaths because of malaria and poisoned water. He also noted that human life expectancy is continually rising, and we have to keep perspective to focus on things we can actually influence for the better good of all society.

Rev. Sirico Discusses Pope Benedict’s Visit to United States

Acton’s president, Rev. Robert Sirico, discussed the significance of Pope Benedict’s trip to the United States with several media outlets, including Fox News. Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States in mid-April for six days. The pope met with President Bush and presided over mass in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Rev. Sirico talked about Benedict’s ability to strengthen the Catholic Church in the United States. “The images that are being projected across the country now and in the next few days will have a very positive impact,” he added. He emphasized that Catholics run large private charities, taking that burden off the government, as well as the largest private education system in the country.

Rev. Sirico also discussed the visit on the Ray Appleton Show. Rev. Sirico praised Benedict for addressing Catholic sexual abuse issues. “I really appreciate the way he dealt with this issue. He did not do it sensationally, but met with victims privately,” Rev. Sirico said. He noted that victims spoke passionately about Pope Benedict’s meeting with them. “I think his meeting with them will have a monumental impact,” he added. “Benedict comes on the stage today when the problem is Islamo-fascism and secularism, and he is the right man for the job,” said Rev. Sirico.

Repairing Health Care: Grace-Marie Turner

Grace-Marie Turner addressed the topic of repairing health care on April 10 for the Acton Lecture Series. Turner is the president of the Galen Institute, a non profit health and tax policy research center. Turner is widely published and has testified on many occasions for the U.S. Congress on health care issues. She believes conservatives and Christians should not be afraid to take greater ownership of this issue. She spoke passionately about helpful solutions for the uninsured at the lecture.

One of the most significant points she made was the need for making health care portable, which would keep people from losing their coverage when they change jobs. Tying health care to an employer is problematic. No other major country ties insurance to their employer. “Three in ten workers change jobs every year,” she noted. That variable in itself is the main reason that the number of uninsured is so high. The policy of this country has created much of the crisis we are currently facing.

Turner declared that universal government mandated programs would definitely cause government bureaucracies to be the ones making decisions about your health care needs. Unfortunately, individuals and families would lose a lot of freedom related to their care.

Providing tax breaks to individuals, just like businesses receive, would reduce the number of uninsured. In an article this year in USA Today, Grace-Marine Turner noted, “Allowing greater competition in the health insurance industry would lead to more affordable premiums. Giving consumers a greater incentive to shop for value would put power in the hands of doctors and patients, not government. Market-oriented reforms, coupled with assistance for those at the lower end of the economic scale, would be a far better solution.”

Acton and You

The July Acton Lecture Series will feature Acton’s director of programs, Michael Miller. His July 24 address is titled, “The Victory of Socialism?” Miller states, “Socialism did not die with the collapse of the Soviet Union,” and examines the advance of socialism in cultural institutions, academia, media, government, and religion. Miller looks at current advances in socialism abroad, and asks, “While we celebrated the triumph of freedom has socialism won over the culture?”

For the August Acton Lecture series, Dr. Jay Richards will follow up on the highly successful premiere of The Birth of Freedom. Dr. Richards will talk and lead discussion about some of the themes from Acton’s new documentary, The Birth of Freedom. The film examines the contributions of the Judeo-Christian tradition to the rise of political and economic freedom in the West. At the May 8 premiere in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dr. Richards, Dr. Samuel Gregg, and Dr. William Allen all served on a highly informative panel that discussed the significance of the documentary and its intent. Dr. Richards is the executive producer for The Birth of Freedom.