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Acton Notes - October 2008

Chicago Birth of Freedom Premiere Receives Praise

The Birth of Freedom documentary received generous praise at the film premiere in Chicago on September 4. The Birth of Freedom appeals to the evidence of history to show that the roots of political and economic freedom are found in the Judeo-Christian tradition. All surveys from the attendees ranked the film as excellent or good. The premiere was located at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. There were just over 200 attendees present. Acton's director of media Dr. Jay Richards discussed the significance premieres provide for documentaries by noting, "Premieres like these greatly increase the visibility of the film and allow community leaders to see it before it's released."

Following the premiere in Chicago, there was an increase in demand for further pre-release screenings. Dr. Richards noted that he was encouraged that several prominent pastoral and church leaders in the Chicago area attended the premiere.

Rev. Robert Sirico and Dr. Richards served on the panel for the question and answer session that followed the screening. The national director of Americans for Limited Government, Mr. Robert Costello, served as the moderator. The surveys, which provided valuable feedback, overwhelmingly noted the exceptional nature of the production quality of The Birth of Freedom. Several of the comments on surveys also lauded the way the film compared the American and French revolutions, and additionally noted that the topic was worth further study.

If you would like to host a screening please visit www.thebirthoffreedom.com/host-a-screening.The next premiere for The Birth of Freedom is slated for November 5 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the city's fine arts center. You can also visit Acton's PowerBlog for video shorts of the film, which will be released each Monday. The Acton Institute would like to thank all the attendees at our premieres.

Help Continue Acton's Mission

Since 1990, the Acton Institute's thoughtful academic research and publications, made possible by your support, have clarified the foundations of a free and humane society. By leveraging this intellectual capital through the celebrated educational programs and by translating the message through popular media, your support allowed Acton to accomplish much in these last eighteen years. And Acton needs your thoughtful, planned support to ensure that trend continues for the coming decades.

In addition to your current support, there are many creative ways to support the Acton Institute that will secure the future and guarantee the continuation of much needed work. Below are just a few:

  • You can make Acton a beneficiary in your will or living trust.
  • Beneficiary designations on your bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts allow you to designate portions of the account to support our work.
  • Making a gift of stock or other security can save you from paying capital gains tax.

If you have already included Acton in your estate planning or intend to, please contact the Acton Institute, so there is proper acknowledgement and thanks for your generosity. Also, should you have any questions or are interested in further information about the many different ways you can support the Acton Institute, please call Charles Roelofs at 616-454-3080 or e-mail him at croelofs@acton.org.

The Acton Institute also strongly encourages long term financial supporters to seek advice from your attorney or other advisor as laws governing estate planning and wills vary from state to state.

Birth of Freedom Lecture

Dr. Jay Richards discussed the themes of Acton's new documentary The Birth of Freedom for the Acton Lecture Series, which took place on August 14, 2008. Dr. Richards spent much of his lecture discussing the relationship between religion and science. He offered valuable insight into the theological claims of the American Declaration of Independence. "[The American Founders] grounded equality and our fundamental rights in theology. If that seems peculiar, you have to ask yourself where else would you ground the claim of equality?" says Dr. Richards.

He also noted that the two most important theological propositions for the institutions of liberty are the focus on the dignity of the person and that man is made sinful and should never have too much power. "It's those two ideas held in tension that are crucial in building institutions of freedom," said Dr. Richards. If you missed the lecture and would like to listen to it you can visit the website www.acton. org/media/2008-08-14-birth-of-freedom.php

Acton Interns Publish "Don't Ban the Bottle"

Acton summer interns Tom Sundaram and Noah Meek published a commentary in the Holland Sentinel on August 21 titled "Don't Ban the Bottle." The young authors declared:

The logic that dictates bottled water is always a taxable luxury is flawed. As even the tap-over-bottle groups will admit, there are situations where tap water is not available or not trustworthy. Everyone agrees that it is important that drinking water keep to high levels of safety and portability, and bottled water reliably maintains these standards as part of the market process, even when we cannot always trust tap water.

The two interns did a skillful job of summarizing the philosophical and theological arguments of groups like the National Council of Churches and their push for a ban on the selling of water for profit. Another important part of their commentary was highlighting specific legislation and action across the country by local governments to regulate bottled water heavily. "Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco signed an executive order banning the use of city funds for purchasing water bottles. Mayor Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City ordered firefighters to stop bringing bottled refreshments with them in fire trucks," noted Sundaram and Meek.

Sundaram and Meek concluded by noting that "although there may be good intentions behind the push to tax and regulate bottled water, such a ban would certainly do more harm than good."

Tom Sundaram is a student at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, and Noah Meek is a student at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Intern Robert Holmes contributed important research for the commentary.

Acton and You

The Acton Annual Dinner, which takes place on October 30, will be located at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There are still seats available to attend the dinner if you have not yet made reservations. Please visit the Acton website or call the Grand Rapids office for more information.

The keynote speaker this year is Rev. John Nunes. Rev. Nunes is the president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief.

Another momentous event for the dinner will be the presentation of the Faith & Freedom Award, which will be awarded to Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr. Kate O'Beirne, National Review's Washington editor, will accept the award on Buckley's behalf. Buckley, who passed away in February, played an integral role in the rise of conservative thought and human liberty. His faith was the foundation of his beliefs and something he freely discussed and articulated well in the public square.

Other recipients of Acton's Faith & Freedom Award include business pioneer and philanthropist Sir John Marks Templeton, and Charles W. "Chuck" Colson, bestselling author and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries.