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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Subsidiarity and Health Care Reform

An employee of a large regional bank is concerned because the bank’s health insurance covers payment for abortions. She has no alternative source of insurance. Millions of others are in the same predicament, since most plans routinely fund the procedure.

Painful choices like the above are evolving out of a government/industry coalition that is rapidly but subtly concentrating power over the nation’s health care system. Notwithstanding the overwhelming political defeat of nationalized health care during the first term of the Clinton administration, policy “experts” are quietly socializing the system. The recent proposals to expand Medicare and child care are the latest examples of this strategy. As a result, each of us is losing control of our medical destiny and being drawn into an ethically...

Cuba is Part of the Pope's Evangelical Mission

Commentators are still trying to understand just what Pope John Paul II was up to in visiting Cuba. Surely, many muse, the most skillful geopolitical strategist to ever preside in the papal suites must have had a secret political agenda. Is he trying to do for Cuba what he did for Poland? Or, as several dispatches have suggested, does he feel an ideological attachment to Fidel Castro’s anticapitalist economics?

Both assessments are wrong, as is clear from the remarkable events that took place in Cuba the week of the papal visit. The point of his visit was illustrated to me by a local underground entrepreneur who is a very poor father of two. He pointed out that the first time he had seen Mr. Castro in a business suit was that week. He interpreted this as a sign of deference and a reminder that...

Antonio Rosmini-Serbati

En 1997 fue el bicentenario del nacimiento del sacerdote teólogo, reformador político, y además filósofo italiano, Antonio Rosmini. Durante una época marcada por un fermento de protesta que estaba socavando el orden establecido, Rosmini dedicó toda su vida a reconciliar la enseñanza de la Iglesia Católica – Romana con el pensamiento filosófico y político moderno. Él trató de armonizar las viejas ideas con las nuevas, mostrando como cada desarrollo efectivo fomenta el propio crecimiento sobre la base de principios inmutables. Sin embargo, su plan audaz lo convirti...

Antonio Rosmini-Serbati

Il 1997 è stato il bicentenario della nascita del prete teologo, riformatore politico, nonché filosofo italiano, Antonio Rosmini. Durante un’epoca segnata da un fermento di protesta che minava l’establishment, Rosmini dedicò la sua intera vita a riconciliare l’insegnamento della Chiesa romano-cattolica con il pensiero filosofico e politico moderno. Egli cercò di armonizzare le vecchie idee con le nuove mostrando come ogni sviluppo effettivo fondi la propria crescita sulla base di principi immutabili. Tuttavia il suo audace progetto lo rese una figura controversa sia all’interno della Chiesa che all’esterno.

Rosmini poneva fermamente alla base della legge e della politica la dignità della persona umana. Secondo il suo pensiero, la libertà e la proprietà privata...

Antonio Rosmini-Serbati

1997 was the bicentennial of the birth of the Italian priest, theologian, political reformer, and philosopher, Antonio Rosmini. During a time marked by ferment against the established order, Rosmini dedicated his life to reconciling Roman Catholic teaching with modern philosophical and political thought. He sought to harmonize old and new ideas by showing how any true development depends on growth from basic, immutable principles. His bold project made him a controversial figure both inside and outside the church.

Rosmini firmly grounded law and politics in the dignity of the human person. According to him, freedom and private property...

American Catholic

The American Roman Catholic is a curious animal, forever trying to modify the docile, traditional, receptive spirit of the Catholic by the independent, innovative, frontier mentality of the American. Results of his endeavor vary from the impressive and influential to the disedifying and disastrous. His task is never-ending simply because it is impossible: “American” cannot modify “Catholic.”

In the aptly named American Catholic, Charles Morris seeks to give the definitive history of this creature. From the start, he acknowledges the inherent tension between a church anchored in dogma and tradition and a culture based on innovation and individualism. The Catholic Church and the United States have had quite a past, and Morris provides a captivating account of their stormy relationship....

The Encyclical Legacy of John Paul II

Remarkable changes have taken place within the Roman Catholic Church under the papacy of John Paul II. As the twentieth century draws to a close, we see in retrospect that this century has witnessed in sheer numbers alone more deaths and wholesale destruction of human life and institutions that any previous. Yet even in the midst of such depressing circumstances, worldwide, Catholics find themselves in a dynamic, effective, and revitalized institution that, according to some, now ranks among the world’s foremost defenders of basic human rights. That our time has witnessed the amazing transformation of the Catholic Church from a staunch defender of the old-world political order to a democratic sympathizer is due in no small measure to the visionary leadership of John Paul II.

Furthermore,...

Christianity, the Foundation and Conservator of Freedom

R&L: You have often described yourself as an arch-liberal. The word liberalism has very different meanings in the United States and Europe. Could you explain the differences of those understandings of this term?

Kuehnelt-Leddihn: The term liberal in its political connotation we owe to Spain, the nation that always valued freedom most highly if not excessively, and therefore also produced a great many anarchists in the last one hundred fifty years. Resisting the Napoleonic invasion, Spain proclaimed in the liberated south, in Cadiz, a liberal constitution whose supporters were called los liberales. (They denounced their opponents as los serviles.) In 1816 Southey used the expression liberal for the first time in England but still in its...

Misesian Economics and the Bible

One of the several magnificent intellectual achievements of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881—1973) was his development of a comprehensive science of human action, called “praxeology.” One of the main conclusions drawn from praxeology is that free markets will result in more prosperity than government-directed economic activity–a position that naturally makes Misesian economics popular with conservatives. At the same time, one aspect of praxeology often poses a gigantic stumbling block to conservatives of deep religious convictions. They have been perplexed and put off by Mises’ insistence that, in praxeology, he had developed a Wertfrei (value-free) science of economics.

Praxeology and the Bible

Man is a moral being, the argument goes. Therefore,...

The New Testament and Public Life

From the historical beginnings of the Christian movement, there has been an understanding that the governing authorities of the world are under the providence of God. According to Saint Paul, government serves a valuable and divinely ordained purpose until the Parousia, when the return of Christ will fully inaugurate the new creation. Government, Paul declares, is “instituted by God” and is “God’s servant for your good.” Its fundamental function is to provide law and order and punish wrongdoers: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Thus Christians are conscience-bound to honor governmental authority and be law-abiding citizens (Rom. 13:1—7). At the same time, it is implied that government is accountable to God and is to serve the common good. Perhaps Paul’s views here in Romans...

Medical Technology, Medical Ethics

The usual line on medical ethics goes something like this. In the old days, ethics and medicine weren’t often in conflict. The physician intervened to save lives when he could, but his main limitation was technological. Nowadays, however, we have the technology to keep life going for an indeterminate period, blurring distinctions between life and death. This reality necessitates that doctors and families make difficult decisions about when to pull the plug. And since finances are always an issue, making those decisions requires us to think not just about life itself but preeminently about the quality of life.

Herein lies the supposed ethical difficulty. Issues of quality of life cannot be decided by the patient; others, especially those who pay the bill (it can be society as a whole), must...

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon was born in 1723 to a Scottish family that strongly believed in the virtues fostered by religion. Witherspoon began attending the University of Edinburgh at age fourteen. After completion of his studies in 1743, Witherspoon was ordained and started his ministry at Beith, Scotland. He went to the New World in 1768, prompted by an offer to head the College of New Jersey (Princeton). As the president of Princeton, Witherspoon’s performance was extraordinary. According to Ralph L. Ketcham, “under his leadership, Princeton was a hotbed of revolutionary patriotism, and produced one president, ten u.s. senators, nine governors, and...

Why America Needs Religion

Recently, University of Chicago professor Derek Neal undertook a study of the education of urban minority students, the same ones who are the much-vaunted “at risk” students regularly paraded out whenever the body politic even contemplates any change in the educational status quo. After exhaustive research and comparison between the public and private (including parochial) education systems, Professor Neal concluded that there “is something different about the curriculum in Catholic schools that gives urban minorities a significant advantage over their public school peers.” What exactly that “something different in the curriculum” is, Professor Neal did not elaborate on.

However, the answer to what that mysterious difference is can be found in the pages of Guenter Lewy’s little volume Why America...

A Splendid Education in Free Market Economics

Faith of Our Fathers
Mary Sennholz, editor
1997, 389 pp. Paper: $19.95

[ purchase this book ]

The Morality of Capitalism
Mark W. Hendrickson, editor...

Religion, Morality, and the Private Property Order

R&L: You have been long involved in the late-twentieth-century revival of the freedom philosophy, especially with your involvement in the Foundation for Economic Education (fee). In addition, you are a Congregationalist minister. Why do you think it is important for ministers to be grounded in sound economic thinking?

Opitz: Ministers today are learned and dedicated men and women. They buy books and subscribe to serious journals, striving to keep abreast of trends that affect religion and the church. They are involved in civic affairs; they are liked and respected, even by those who never go near a church. They are good company and have friends in the other professions, especially businessmen. It therefore would not hurt if they improved their understanding of business...