Religion & Liberty Article Listing

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...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

Romans 8:38-39

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

One of the great truths and victories of Christianity is that it removes for all time the divine-human alienation. In many religions it’s the people who make offerings and sacrifices to the divine. Communities and individuals try to atone for their guilt and unworthiness, and their sacrificial efforts continue to this day. In Christianity it is God who approaches humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Christ is the very embodiment of sacrifice, love, and intercession. Even now he sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us...

Why Did The Acton Institute Produce "The Birth Of Freedom?"

We produced “The Birth of Freedom” to keep alive the knowledge of the role religion has played historically in the “birth,” growth and securing of freedom. While this historic reality would have been at one time a commonly held understanding, today it is not. We want to suggest something else through this film, namely that freedom cannot long prosper outside of morality—that not only did the Judeo-Christian tradition bring liberty to fruition, it must remain vibrant to sustain it.

This understanding of the symbiotic relationship between religion and liberty was a core foundation of the American experiment. But today, secularists are keen to excise religion, religious symbols and all religious influences from the public square. To think liberty can survive such a mutilation is akin to thinking a beautiful flower can come into being and continue to exist without its roots and...

Deeds Not Words: The Good Works Reader

In a time of blockbuster television specials about the discovery of “lost” gospels, Jesus seminars, and a steady stream of theological fads designed to make celebrities out of seminary professors, the thought of compiling a collection of patristic writings on the practice of good works seems slightly out of the mainstream, if not countercultural. But that is exactly what Thomas C. Oden has done with The Good Works Reader, a book that succeeds as an introduction, a guide, and a refresher course in the daunting task of living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the here and now.

Oden, who has led the Protestant “paleo-orthodox” movement toward deeper appreciation of the early church, is the Henry Anton Buttz Professor Emeritus of Theology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and general editor of the multivolume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. The Good...

The Scandal of Evangelical Politics

In The Scandal of Evangelical Politics, Ronald J. Sider attempts to construct a methodology for evangelical Christians to participate faithfully in the political process. His construct is a backlash—to a degree—of the political monopolization of the religious right and its influence in politics. The book is a response to past evangelical involvement, which Sider sees as largely being a failure and highly contradictory. And while his methodology does not necessarily contradict any political goals of Christian conservatives, and is in fact in agreement with many, he wants to encourage greater biblical integrity and sound thinking.

Sider, for example, cites former senator Jesse Helms as an example of someone who brings faith into politics with improper or little theological reflection. Sider praises Helms for standing up for the unborn, then admonishes him by...