Religion & Liberty Article Listing


Looming large among the vices constituting the Seven Deadly Sins is invidia, that is, envy. It belongs there. A human being infected by the virus of envy becomes a mean-spirited individual, incapable of heeding St. Paul’s admonition to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” The triumphs and good fortune of others elicit not pleasure but bitterness, a bitterness warping and twisting the soul.

Nearly five decades ago, Joseph Alois Schumpeter, an Austrian-born economist who became a permanent professor of Economics at Harvard University, penned a volume touching upon the evil that is envy. Entitled Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, the work analyzes the workings of a market economy with rare subtlety and sensitivity. The unprecedented success of such an economy in improving the material...

Hugo de San Víctor

"The pursuit of commerce reconciles nations, calms wars, strengthens peace, and commutes the private good of individuals into the common benefit of all."

Así escribió Hugo de San Víctor. Hugo (1096-1141) fue un canónico de la Abadía de San Víctor de París. Su elección vocacional es significativa en cuanto que los canónicos regulares formaban parte de un movimiento que buscaba recuperar el ascetismo de la Iglesia de los primeros tiempos y combinarlo con el servicio al prójimo en sus vecindarios. Su pequeña dimensión y las reglas flexibles les permitió realizar pequeñas donaciones para ser usadas en la administraci...

Ugo di San Vittore

Così scrisse Ugo di San Vittore. Ugo (1096-1141) fu un canonico dell’Abbazia di San Vittore a Parigi. La sua scelta vocazionale è significativa, in quanto i canonici facevano parte di un movimento che intendeva recuperare l’ascetismo della Chiesa dei primi tempi, combinandolo con il servizio al prossimo. La piccola dimensione e la regola flessibile consentirono loro di realizzare piccole opere poste al servizio della Chiesa: ospedali e scuole che normalmente venivano utilizzati da altri monasteri. Questa era la missione alla quale si dedicò Ugo.

Ugo arrivò a San...

Hugh of St. Victor

"The pursuit of commerce reconciles nations, calms wars, strengthens peace, and commutes the private good of individuals into the common benefit of all."

So wrote Hugh of Saint Victor. Hugh (1096-1141) was a canon regular at the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris. His choice of vocation is significant in that the canons regular were part of a movement that sought to recapture the asceticism of the early church and to combine that with service in their neighborhoods. Their small scale and flexible rule allowed them to put smaller benefactions to use in the administration of churches, hospitals, and schools than normally would have been utilized by larger and older monasteries. It was to that...

The Economic Problem in Biblical and Patristic Thought

“Due to the automation” of E.J. Brill’s “systems” (forsooth!) this remarkable book has been kept waiting nearly two years for a notice. I hope that it will now receive at long last the attention–and the sales–it deserves.

For more than twenty years, Christian economists (and non-economists), usually of an ‘evangelical’ persuasion, have been busy constructing ‘Christian’ or ‘biblical’ economics. The Bible is taken to be, or to contain, a set of instructions for ordering twentieth-century economic relations. With the aid of a little elementary textbook analysis we are informed that this or that economic policy–full employment, low interest rates, minimum wages, farm subsidies, and so forth–are or are not ‘Christian.’ Moreover...

Corporate Philanthropy

R&L: Capital Research Center recently published a study of patterns of corporate philanthropy in the United States. Could you give us a brief summary of that study?

Johnson: Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy is an annual study of corporate public affairs giving. Using the Forbes 250 listing of America’s largest corporations, it examines contributions to public policy groups–not traditional service charities, the arts, hospitals, etc.–because these groups increasingly determine the political, economic, and moral climate in which businesses and society must operate. In other words, these contributions are highly leveraged.

The study proves that America’s largest corporations continue to fail the tests both of...

Did It Liberate? Liberation Theology: Post Mortem

Editors note: In the inaugural issue of this journal there appeared an article entitled “Death Knell for Socialism and Liberation Theology” [January/February 1991]. Subsequent to the appearance of the papal encyclical Centesimus Annus, Acton President Father Robert Sirico predicted in an article in National Review : “… this encyclical constitutes the epitaph for liberation and collectivist movements.… The ‘Christian-Marxist dialogue’ is dead.”

These obituaries were, of course, not well received in quarters sympathetic to a socialist-Christian synthesis. It is, therefore, satisfying to see these assertions confirmed from the mouths of the very people who for too many years have been advancing ideas deleterious to the very liberation and self-determination they seek.



At a reunion of Johnson administration officials in Austin, Texas, a quarter century after the War on Poverty fired its cannonades, the mood of reminiscence was akin to Wordsworth’s memory of enthusiasm following the French Revolution: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.” Sargent Shriver exulted that the Reagan years had not really damaged Great Society programs, most of which were “still in existence, all helping millions of Americans today.” New York Times columnist Tom Wicker described the sumptuous affair and proposed that it was time to stop moaning, and, instead drink a toast to “vision and aspiration, confidence and compassion.”

Vision, aspiration, and confidence were all present, but was there compassion? It depends on what we mean by the word. When Speaker of the House, Tip O...


With the commencement of our second year of publishing Religion & Liberty, we are adding a regular feature by the Reverend Dr. John K. Williams. Dr. Williams is a graduate of Melbourne and Oxford Universities. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, he taught philosophy at Melbourne for three years before studying for the ministry. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church, and served as chaplain and senior teacher at St. Leonard’s College, East Brighton, Australia, for eleven years. Dr. Williams currently works as a lecturer and writer, and spent several weeks at the Acton Institute as mentor for our “Toward a Free and Virtuous Society” conference, and adjunct scholar. This column will offer our readers an opportunity to evaluate current wisdoms in the light of a traditional philosophical approach.


Alexis de Tocqueville

Estas son palabras de Alexis de Tocqueville en su clásica obra Democracia en América.

Nacido en París en 1805, Tocqueville era miembro de la pequeña nobleza. Fue enviado por su familia a los Estados Unidos, junto a su amigo Gustave de Beaumont, para evitar el alboroto resultante de la revolución de 1830. Si bien el declarado propósito de su visita era estudiar el sistema penal americano, Tocqueville hizo mucho más que eso durante su viaje de nueve meses (11 de Mayo de 1831- 20 de Febrero de 1832) que le llevaron desde Boston en el este, hasta Green...

Alexis de Tocqueville

Queste sono parole tratte dal classico di Alexis de Tocqueville La democrazia in America.

Nato a Parigi nel 1805, Tocqueville apparteneva alla piccola nobiltà. Fu mandato in America dalla sua famiglia insieme all’amico Gustave de Beaumont per sfuggire ai tumulti dei moti rivoluzionari del 1830. Mentre il suo esplicito proposito era quello di studiare il sistema penale americano, Tocqueville fece molto di più durante i nove mesi di viaggio (11 maggio 1831 – 20 febbraio 1832), che lo portarono da Boston (nell’Est) a Green Bay (nell’Ovest). Da Marie nel Nord a New Orleans nel Sud. Il resoconto del suo viaggio è diventato un classico del pensiero sociale e della filosofia politica. Nel criticare l’America del XIX secolo, Tocqueville ne ha evidenziato la forza e...

Alexis de Tocqueville

"I am inclined to believe that if faith be wanting in (a man) he must be subject; and if he believe, he must be free."

These are the words of Alexis de Tocqueville in his classic Democracy in America.

Born in Paris in 1805, Tocqueville was a member of the petite noblesse. He was sent to the United States by his family to avoid the turmoil resulting from the Revolution of 1830, with his friend Gustave de Beaumont. While the stated purpose of his visit was to study the American penal system, Tocqueville did much more during his nine-month journey (May 11,1831­ February 20, 1832) that took him from Boston in the east to Green Bay in the west, Sault Ste. Marie...

The Content of Our Character

Shelby Steele’s book, The Content of Our Character, is the best statement of its kind dealing with the issues surrounding racial antagonism often felt between black and white Americans. Written by a black professor of English who recently described himself to Time magazine as a “classical liberal,” this book is a striking analysis of the psychological factors involved in issues about race in the United States. Steele challenges many of the suppositions fashionable among the civil rights community on the basis of his own and others’ experiences in this charged area.

One of the many issues Steele raises, rarely brought up in discussions of race relations, is the prevalent feeling of black inferiority among blacks themselves. “You cannot be raised in a culture that was for centuries...

The Transfer Society

R&L: You’ve written extensively on the development of the American economic system and in particular the growth of what you call the “transfer society.” Would you briefly define what a “transfer society” is?

Hill: The idea of the transfer society is a society where property rights are up for grabs. Very few defined rules exist, or the rules are always subject to re-definition, particularly by constitutional interpretation. The book that I wrote with Terry Anderson, The Birth of a Transfer Society, is an analysis of these changes in the U. S. Constitution.

We’ve become a society in which the rules are in flux, thereby prodding people to spend a large amount of their time and resources trying to change the rules to their benefit. Our...

Preferential Option: A New Strategy for Latin America's Poor

The stench as you stand on the edge of the city dump in Guatemala City is overpowering. Even more overwhelming is the realization that crashes into your heart and mind: 3,000 families actually live here. Children and parents fight the vultures and pigs and search through the garbage for small “treasures”–bits of nylon, scraps of plastic and discarded jewelry–to resell to open air marketeers. I’ll never erase the gut-wrenching picture from my mind.

But other images are also deeply etched, like the sensory overload of the hustle and bustle of Sexto Avenida in zone one, the city’s principal commercial center. Or the look of the customs officer who coolly asked what my friends and I could give him in order to receive permission to bring into the country our 26 boxes of school...