Religion & Liberty Article Listing

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...

"Brand Loyalty" in the American Religious Marketplace

Earlier this year, the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life released the first installment of a truly impressive study based upon a massive survey of more than 35,000 Americans. Its portrait of "the American religious landscape" attracted a great deal of media attention, typically focusing on three or four principal themes. If you were to read only the press accounts, here's what you would know:

  • While Americans are still overwhelmingly -- at least nominally -- Christian (78.4 percent of the respondents identified themselves that way), only a bare majority (51.3 percent) call themselves Protestant. Our once dominant majority religion is headed toward being a minority religion -- still the largest single bloc of adherents, to be sure, but home only to a plurality of our country, rather than to a majority.
  • The most rapidly growing precinct in our religious...

Theology at Work: Faithful Living in the Marketplace -- An Interview with David Miller

Your book, God at Work, was published last year. Tell us about the faith-at-work movement, and what are some of the reasons for its rise in society?

David W. Miller
David W. Miller

Broadly speaking, it’s a loosely networked collection of individuals and groups throughout the country who are all seeking to integrate faith and work. Some of the groups are comprised of people from a particular company who come together in the cafeteria or in someone’s conference room and have a half hour of prayer and Bible study. But many of the groups meet outside of work, and attendees come from a variety of companies, instead of just from, let’s say, Citibank or from J.P. Morgan.

These gatherings of people to discuss how to integrate...

Editor's Note

This issue of Religion & Liberty in many ways personifies Christ in culture. The lead interview is an analysis of the faith at work movement from one of its leaders, David W. Miller. Miller reminds us of how the Church has lagged behind in integrating faith with work, and quite often many pastoral and church leaders have failed in articulating a strong theology of work. As you will see, some of these reasons are ideological, while some may simply arise from practical reasons. At the same time, faith at work has a significant grassroots following that has decisively shaped various sectors of the business and corporate arena.

Joseph M. Knippenberg offers a different analysis of the much discussed findings by the Pew Forum on Religion and & Public Life Òon the American religious landscape.Ó Knippenberg's analysis is far less dour than what has been reported in...

Does the Church Serve the State?

Rev. Robert Sirico

The secular world and the Christian world agree that religion and the state should be separate. It’s better this way for all concerned. It keeps the social peace. It prevents entanglements that can corrupt the faith. And these spheres have different jobs to do, and each can uphold its job better when they tend to matters that are their own respective responsibilities.

And yet there are times when mixing does occur, with the predictable result of social division and doctrinal confusion. I’m thinking in particular here of a case in Italy, where the Italian prime minister demanded that the church assist in task of collecting taxes via propaganda from the pulpit.

“A third of...

Juan de Lugo

Juan de Lugo

One of the most eminent moral and dogmatic theologians of his time, Cardinal Juan de Lugo, S.J., was the last representative of the famous group of early-modern Catholic thinkers associated with Spain’s University of Salamanca. Sent by his father to study law at Salamanca, de Lugo entered the Jesuits in 1603 and turned his attention to theology. His theological reputation was such that he was eventually summoned to Rome by the Jesuit General Mutius Vitelleschi in 1621.

Despite his brilliance, de Lugo remained a humble man. He only allowed publication of his writings following a direct order from his...

Work and the Final End of Man

In addition to economic and health reasons, there are also spiritual grounds for doing away with early, full-time retirement. From a Christian point of view, work is not a punishment, but it is a gift of God that allows man to take part in the furthering of the world of creation. In this, Christ gave us the supreme example: He was a diligent worker, publicly known as a carpenter’s son, and good not only in words but also in deeds (cf. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 2:51; Mark 7:37). Everything that Christ did had a redemptive dimension, including his professional work.

Pensions, Population, and Prosperity

Man also has...

Democratic Capitalism and its Discontents

Despite its triumphant defeat over totalitarianism and socialism, democratic capitalism still faces angry and aggressive opposition from inside the West. In his new book, Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents, Brian Anderson carefully examines this opposition and investigates the erosion of liberal democracy by contrasting the thought of classical liberal philosophers, such as Alexis de Tocqueville, with the thought of the heroes of the contemporary academy, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Antonio Negri.

Explaining what he calls the “suicide of culture,” Anderson appeals to Rocco Buttiglione’s view that libertinism is more dangerous to democratic capitalism than Marxism. Anderson explains, “Instead of crushing man’s reason and passions, as did communism, moral libertinism turns man’s passion against the truth.”