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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Editor’s Note

Sarah Stanley editor of R&L

Questions about what makes a good or a bad leader dominate many conversations as we approach the 2016 presidential election. Real leadership happens all around us, not just in the Oval Office. As we pulled together the various pieces for this Summer 2016 issue of Religion & Liberty, the informal theme of leadership seemed to connect all the content. For the interview, I was able to sit down with the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Cheryl Bachelder, to discuss her unique approach to leading the casual fried chicken corporation. Rev. Robert Sirico also addresses leadership in his column as he asks the question, Where are the leaders? He reflects on the legacies of Reagan, Thatcher and John...

Where are the leaders?

Elections always elicit great emotions, but this year’s is particularly disheartening. Both major-party candidates are prompting buyers’ remorse from their respective political affiliates, and additionally are receiving dismal approval ratings.

Furthermore, Brexit and the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron have sparked a change of leadership in Great Britain. Taking Cameron’s place is Theresa May, the first female prime minister since the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher. It is my wish that Prime Minister May’s tenure is as successful as was Thatcher’s. Only time will tell.

I fear that what we’re witnessing is a steady erosion of leadership in the public sphere. There...

Jeremias Gotthelf [1797 – 1854]

For where belief dwells, the spider may not stir, neither by day nor by night.

Though few Americans today have heard of Jeremias Gotthelf, he belongs among the great European authors of the 19th century and, indeed, the greatest Christian writers of the modern West. Gotthelf, whose real name was Albert Bitzius, was pastor in the tiny Swiss village Lützelflüh, not far from the capital, Bern. He began writing relatively late, publishing his first novel, Reflections on a Peasant’s Life, in 1837. But then his output was prodigious. In less than 20 years he produced eleven more novels and over forty novellas and short stories, while also editing an almanac for several years and, of course, fulfilling his pastoral duties. Sadly, little of his writing is available in English, though there is a recent translation of his best-known work, the novella The Black Spider...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

Mark 1:16–20

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

This dramatic call of some of the most notable disciples shows that the ministry of Christ is chiefly concerned about drawing people unto himself. The incarnate Lord is a central theme of Christianity. The text highlights that following Jesus is an immediate and dramatic life-changing experience. The disciples...

Eric Metaxas’ golden triangle of freedom

Review of If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (Viking 2016) by Eric Metaxas.

Though we have enjoyed the summer heat for many weeks now, we should reflect on the event that kicks this season off. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer in America. School’s out for summer (in most places). The pools are open. The grills are hot. The ballparks are full. Memorial Day is also the beginning of the American liturgical calendar of patriotic feasts and festivals over the summer months, reaching its pinnacle with Independence Day.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868 to honor the fallen Union heroes of the American Civil War. It was a day set aside to decorate their graves and remember the “last full measure of devotion” given by these men. There was, of course, competing memorials in the...

Millennials should read Solzhenitsyn

The appeal of Bernie Sanders’ socialism is a puzzle to many; his appeal rises when economics is understood mechanistically, subject to impersonal forces and nefarious individuals. As a result, an economy can be directed only by the macro decisions of large and powerful entities like governments.

It is easy to appeal to free education, the eradication of poverty, and all the other promises made by those who don’t have any real experience in wealth creation. Most often their supporters don’t either, including millennials. We need to be patient with the ignorance of the young, but we should never acquiesce to it. Economics is not a mechanistic enterprise. Economics is closely tied to human anthropology—the precepts that define what a human is, how one produces artifacts first for survival and then for the building of culture, how one values nature and the...

What’s the state of American money?

Review of The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does (Regnery 2016) by George Gilder.

Citizens of the world’s superpower are worried about the future. Polls of public sentiment indicate that Americans are pessimistic about their opportunities for prosperity, concerned that the next generation will not enjoy an improving quality of life, and more. This anxiety is reflected in the current presidential primary season. Hillary Clinton unimaginatively offers to manage the decline. Donald Trump offers himself unfiltered for public service, yet his strongman act seems better placed in the darker decades of the last century rather than the new challenges presented in the 21st.

By the end of the 20th century, communism proved to be the god that failed, defeated by a resurgent American resolve backed by an extraordinary new...

Servant leadership in a Louisiana kitchen

Popeyes CEO Cheryl BachelderGood leadership involves a lot more than ordering underlings around, and one prominent businesswoman, Cheryl A. Bachelder, has built her career on being a different sort of leader. In early June 2016 Bachelder discussed her views on leadership, business, faith and more with Religion & Liberty’s Sarah Stanley at the Popeyes’ headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bachelder has a long list of accomplishments. She’s currently the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, which she joined in November 2007 after serving as an active member of the company’s board for a year. At Popeyes, she promptly established a “Road Map for Results that focused on four key tenets of growing a restaurant chain: build a...

Why is Acton overhauling its website?

Not all construction projects involve bricks and mortar. The Acton Institute has been engaged in a major technical upgrade and redesign of its main site, Acton.org. The drivers for this project begin with our record web traffic of 2 million visitors in 2015. Beyond that, upgrading the web publishing system— the actual tool that allows us to publish articles, videos and event registration—provides the latest data security for users.

What’s more, Acton has seen its mobile traffic outpace even the tremendous growth of worldwide usage. As an international research and educational organization with broad appeal on markets and morality issues, we have a tremendous following in developing nations.

We began this process in mid-2015 with a deep study of how Acton.org users interact with our site, which now numbers more than 4,000 unique pages. A team...

Antonin Scalia [1936 – 2016]

If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.

He was famous for his unyielding opinions, scathing dissents and witticisms, but Justice Antonin Scalia was much more than a brilliant lawyer and steadfast Supreme Court justice. He was a devout Roman Catholic, a family man and a great friend even to his ideological enemies. Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, to Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Scalia and firstgeneration Italian-American Catherine Panaro. He graduated valedictorian three times: from St. Francis Xavier High School, Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.

After he received his law degree, Scalia married Maureen McCarthy and began working at the law offices of Jones, Day, Cockley &...

Getting justice right

The following essay is excerpted from Samuel Gregg’s new book For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (Crossroad, 2016).

No one ideal financial system is immediately derived from either Christian faith or natural reason. That’s not just because of sin and its effects. It’s also a reflection of a truth that has already been stated but that cannot be repeated enough: while Christianity teaches that one can never choose evil, there are often many ways of doing good that, while differing from one another, don’t violate the principles revealed by natural law and divine revelation. There is no uniquely right way to provide, for instance, housing for the homeless. But fraud always constitutes injustice.

Like any sector of the economy, finance is subject to the requirements of justice. And the nature of...

Finance and the common good

A Review of For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (Crossroad, 2016).

The Jesuits control the Federal Reserve. This conspiratorial New York subway graffito is perhaps a small sign that the church’s relationship to financial markets remains misunderstood. Financial judgment and moral judgment are different, but not unrelated, skills. Both must be learned and disciplined. Graham and Dodd managed 770 pages on security analysis, yet Aquinas left an unfinished summa with more than 3000 pages. A financial professional spends years learning markets, analyzing businesses and pricing risk. He learns to separate signals from noise, correlation from coincidence. He takes seriously St. Paul’s counsel to “test everything; hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). In a profession based in computer...

What is our Constitution?

For the seventh Acton Institute Annual Dinner on June 17, 1997, Justice Antonin Scalia gave the evening’s keynote lecture. Despite having spoken these words nearly two decades ago, the message is just as important today as it was that evening. The following essay has been transcribed and excerpted from that speech. The full audio is available online on Acton’s PowerBlog. In honor of the late justice’s significant promotion of freedom and virtue, he is also featured in this issue’s “In the Liberal Tradition.”

I want to talk about the Constitution of the United States, something to which I devote a fair amount of my time these days. There is really nothing like it in the world. It is not a great constitution simply because it...

Is there a cure for America’s discontent? A roundup on populism, trade and the market economy

For this Religion & Liberty interview, we’ve rounded up data about unemployment, the economy, free trade, talking points from the 2016 presidential election and more. We’re interested in getting different viewpoints from Acton writers and lecturers on what the data show.

In a March column titled “The view from the rustbelt,” the Economist writer Lexington began with these lines: “America feels sick at heart this year. Can conventional politics cure that malaise, or will voters turn to those peddling radical remedies, from trade wars to high border walls?” Indeed, after decades of bipartisan agreement on the benefits of free trade and the market economy, that consensus appears to be in tatters. Massive voter turnout in presidential primaries, spurred on by the populist appeal of socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders and anti-...

Editor’s Note

Sarah Stanley editor of R&L

The snow has finally melted in West Michigan, which means it’s time for the year’s second issue of Religion & Liberty. Recent news cycles have been plagued with images of angry Americans, students protesting and populist discontent. The 2016 presidential election has really brought to light that the American people are angry—specifically with American leadership. Here at the Acton Institute, we’re interested in looking more deeply at these issues, particularly if there is a cure for this great discontent. To understand the issues, we’ve rounded up experts on employment, trade, millennials and other issues surrounding the 2016 race to the White House. The roundup...