Religion & Liberty Article Listing

The Envy Trap

It is one of the great puzzles, true throughout all human history, that during an economic downturn, people turn on the rich. They call for them to be taxed, harassed, beaten, and jailed. Because they have money when others are losing money, envy is unleashed and encouraged by the political establishment. It amounts to a kind of lashing out at the most conspicuous target, even though doing so won’t actually accomplish anything.

On the face of it, this should be obvious. In hard economic times, the goal should not be to harm the rich but create conditions that enable more people to become rich. Punishing those who have created and accumulated wealth doesn’t do this. In fact, it does the opposite. It sends the signal that the creation and accumulation of wealth will not be tolerated—and this is exactly the opposite signal that an economy in recession needs.


Taking a Stand: An Interview with Governor Mark Sanford

You’ve taken a very principled approach in working for smaller government, lower taxes, individual liberty, and, for fostering a culture of personal responsibility. Those principles are taking a battering in Washington today. Can anything turn the tide?

Gov. Sanford
Gov. Sanford: money doesn’t come out of the sky.

George Washington and his fairly battered band of patriots were facing far greater odds. The situation looked much more bleak. And yet they were resolved to creating the perfect union that they believed in. And they ultimately prevailed against incredibly long odds. So I think the answer rests in that silent and sleeping majority—really making their voice heard. Not just for an election or election cycle...

Editor's Note

Currently there are serious concerns about economic prosperity in a nation that has for so long benefited from tre mendous economic growth and stability. Likewise, some are deeply troubled about government proposed solutions and cures for our economic ailments. South Carolina's governor Mark Sanford brings substantial thought and credibility to free-market ideas while articulating the danger of greater centralized power.

Those paying attention to current events will be well aware that Governor San ford has risen to be perhaps the chief voice in opposing bailout and stimulus legislation out of Washington, no matter which political party is pushing more spending. We also add another important dynamic in our interview that you prob ably won't see in other interviews with the governor, and that focuses on his views of faith in the public square and what that...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

Acts 3:1-8

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

The book of...

The Mistaken Faiths of Our Age

In the midst of financial crisis, Pope Benedict made a statement that immediately hit the headlines. He said "with the collapse of big banks we see that money disappears, is nothing and all these things that appear real are in fact of secondary importance." He further warned against attempting to build one's life "only on things that are visible, such as success, career, money... The only solid reality is the word of God."

His comments were extension of the Gospel message applied in perilous times. In times of plenty, there is a grave temptation to see in material goods the salvation of our lives. We cling to them, and we discover our disordered attachments in economic bad times. We can go further to observe that this is not only a problem in wealthy societies. Greed and godless materialism are also features of poor societies as well, though they are expressed in a different...

Wilhelm Roepke

"We need a combination of supreme moral sensitivity and economic knowledge. Economically ignorant moralism is as objectionable as morally callous economism. Ethics and economics are two equally difficult subjects, and while the former needs discerning and expert reason, the latter cannot do without humane values."

A decorated soldier in the Kaiser's army, Wilhelm Roepke returned home from the trenches of World War I in 1918, determined to work to ensure that Western civilization never again experienced a crisis of the type that led to the horrors of mass warfare. His life was henceforth to be spent fighting against all forms of collectivism--be it of the National Socialist, Communist, or welfarist variety--and...

Metropolitan Kirill on Economic Globalization and the Social Consensus

Metropolitan Kirill

Excerpt from the prologue to The Ethics of the Common Good in Catholic Social Doctrine (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2008) by His Holiness Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. His Eminence Reverend Kirill is metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and president of the Department of Foreign Religious Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate. Translated from Italian by Paola Fantini, an intern in the Rome office of the Acton Institute.

Metropolitan Kirill:

The official documents of the Russian Orthodox Church, together with many other works of Christian scholars, bear the idea that the harmonious development of society can be possible only on the basis of essential values...

Why does Acton advertise in newspapers and magazines?

For the last three years, Acton has been reaching out to readers of religious and secular publications with engaging, issue-driven advertising. These professionally produced advertisements have touched on a wide variety of timely topics including poverty, malaria, trade, environmental stewardship, and the rise of the Religious Left. The ads use arresting images and thoughtprovoking headlines and copy to pose important questions in fresh ways. This approach is very effective for reaching well-intentioned people of faith concerned about important issues, but who may not have yet formed clear social or economic positions.

One memorable issue ad carried a large image of a mosquito over the headline: Let Us Spray. The ad attacked the erroneous notion, advanced for decades by environmentalists, that the pesticide DDT was an unmitigated evil. This thinking has kept DDT out of the...

The Theology of John Wesley


Kenneth J. Collins offers an insightful study that blends the historical and contemporary in The Theology of John Wesley: Holy Love and the Shape of Grace, published in 2007 by Abingdon Press. The book is Contemporary in that Collins makes a strong case for the relevancy of Wesley's theology and legacy for today. The author is quick to point out that John Wesley was not a systematic theologian, thus some theologians and scholars find him easy to dismiss, while others view him through their preferred theological traditions.

Collins argues that Wesley crafted a theology that was extremely practical and organized around the Ordo Salutis. The order of salvation is a theological term outlining God working in the process of salvation that liberates man from sin. It makes...

Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives find Common Ground?

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

As the standard bearer for American conservatism for two decades, Ronald Reagan effortlessly embodied fusionism by uniting Mont Pelerin style libertarians, populist Christians, Burkean conservatives, and national security voters into a devastatingly successful electoral bloc. Today, it is nearly impossible to imagine a candidate winning both New York and Texas, but Reagan and that group of fellow travelers did.

In the meantime, the coalition has begun to show strain as the forces pushing outward exceed those holding it together. The Soviet Union, once so great a threat that Whittaker Chambers felt certain he was switching to the losing side when he began to inform on fellow Communist agents working within the...

Turkey: Islam's Bridge to Religious and Economic Liberty?

You say there's a growing sector in Turkish society that is engaged with the market economy and that's a healthy trend. Do you see that trend continuing in Turkey?

Mustafa Akyol

There is in this economy a capitalist development, and this is important. In the past, generally speaking, the religious people were more of the peasant class and they were mostly in agriculture--not in modern industrial production. Generally speaking, the bourgeois, the people who were the capitalists, who were owners of production companies or industries, they tended to belong to the more westernized part of Turkish society. And there was a dichotomy of the rich seculars and the poor religious people. But now that is changing. You now have a religiously devout...

Cardinal Bertone's "The Ethics of the Common Good in the Social Doctrine of the Church"

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's Secretary of State and effectively the second most important official in the Catholic Church, takes a close look at economic globalization and the social nature of markets in a book published in September, in Italian and Russian, by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Bertone’s book, “The Ethics of the Common Good in the Social Doctrine of the Church” (L'etica del Bene Comune nella Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa) is also notable for its ecumenical character; it has a preface from Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kalingrad.

It's not often that the Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches have...

Editor's Note

This issue of Religion...

Ethics and the Job Market

The job market has come under pressure of late as the economic shake-up continues. We are reminded that the world of the past, in which workers held one job their entire lives and slowly ascended the corporate ladder until retiring with complete security, no longer exists. This is probably a good thing to the extent that it represents a new economic vibrancy. In the world of economics, another name for complete security is economic stagnation.

Still, changing jobs can introduce great challenges in a person's life. Internal family pressures increase, and there are many opportunities for despair and recrimination. This is where economics and ethics meet. So let's examine the nature of the wage contract to see what it is that people owe each other.

For an employee to force an employer to continue in a contract is not morally different from an employer who forces an...

William F. Buckley

“The best defense against surpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”

William F. Buckley, Jr., grew up in an era that was embracing the ascendancy of government expansion under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Buckley’s heroic battle against modern liberalism was so pronounced and effective because of the seriousness of his ideas and the intellectual weight they carried. His 1951 book God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom, which highlighted the efforts of professors to indoctrinate students in liberal ideology and to cultivate a contempt for religious faith, served to establish Buckley as the founding father of the modern American conservative...