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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

On Liberty's Moral Superiority

R&L: Do you think the clergy’s view of the state as a means of solving the real problems minorities face has changed over the years?

Williams: The civil rights struggle in our country has been won. At one time black Americans lacked the constitutional guarantees others possessed. Now they have them. Major problems still remain in large segments of the black community, but they are not civil rights problems. The 66 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks nationally, the high crime rate, and fraudulent education are devastating problems; but they are not civil rights problems. So if you use a civil rights strategy, the solution will always be elusive.

The clergy have not learned this yet. Combating illegitimacy requires moral teaching. We...

On A New Women's Movement: Going Beyond 'Having It All'

…The starting point for most discussions of women’s issues is the observation that women earn less money than men, with income equality as the implicit touchstone for the desirability of policies, personal or public. But defining one’s well-being in terms of one’s income is not self-evidently correct. In fact, it is extremely problematic to argue that one’s income is an accurate measure of one’s wealth, even on strictly economic grounds.

The overall claim is even more problematic if we include, as we ought, the question What is the good life, the life well-lived? This is the philosophical question that has engaged the attention and efforts of the deepest and most thoughtful of us, since time immemorial. Indeed, it is only in the late twentieth century, when people have become so...

Isaac Thomas Hecker

Friend and colleague of Lord Acton and Cardinal John Henry Newman, and founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul (Paulist Fathers), Isaac Hecker is chiefly known for his efforts to reconcile Roman Catholicism with American liberal democracy. His political views were radically Jacksonian in his youth, and his millennialist belief that God created America as a beacon of light to the world remained with him throughout his life.

He believed that government should protect the equal rights of all citizens, including property rights as guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. He opposed the granting...

Beyond the New Right

Starting roughly from the mess we all admit we are in, John Gray, fellow in politics at Jesus College, Oxford University, subtly, valiantly, and sometimes brilliantly addresses all of the major problems facing liberal democratic society in this collection of four essays written during the past decade. Avowedly conservative in a lineage that links him with Michael Oakeshott (the greatest conservative theorist of our time, he thinks), F.A. Hayek, eventually with Edmund Burke, and, more tenuously, with Thomas Hobbes, Gray comes off somewhat Malthusian and more Tory than Whig.

But he seems unhappy about this and, in truth, any classification is misleading. Rather, Gray comes off sui generis as he distances himself from all known contemporary conservative positions–decrying the Thatcher and Reagan...

Capitalism with Compassion

R&L: Do you see a potential contradiction between being a successful entrepreneur and a Christian believer?

DeVos: Being a capitalist is actually fulfilling the will of God in my life. Prayerfully, I trust that this is my calling. So I don’t see any contradiction. The alternative view is that, as a believer, I should be poor, a business failure. I do not accept that. God has given us talents. Either we use them in business or we all should become priests and ministers, or devote ourselves to social work. That is not a framework to provide meaningful employment or opportunities for everyone.

But certainly there are greedy and improper capitalists, just as in every other profession. That is because we are all sinners. So I don’t think...

Nurture and Natural Law

When I was six or seven, growing up in Somerville, Massachusetts, my father took me into Boston to walk the Freedom Trail. As we progressed along the Trail, smelling the dust and exhaust fumes of old Boston, my father led me back into the eighteenth century. We strolled over the Common, and looked into Old South Church (the Tea Party started here, he pointed out), down to the Old State House (the Massacre happened in front of it), Fanueil Hall (stopping for lunch at nearby Durgin Park), and up to North Church (the lanterns signalling Paul Revere looked out to the Back Bay, which was water then, he explained). At each stop, he would have me picture the people, the conflicts, the emotions that accompanied the Revolution. It was a time of wonder for me. The names of Otis, Hancock, Revere, the Adams cousins, and even Crispus Attucks were...

Justice, Mercy, and Economics

Justice and mercy. What are they? At one time or another, everyone has experienced feelings of anger and indignation when they were violated by others. Everyone has an inherent sense of what is just, and that sense is heightened when one is the victim of injustice. Likewise, it is perhaps safe to say that everyone has either been the recipient of someone else’s benevolence, personally extended benevolence to someone else, or has seen benevolence bestowed upon someone else. Yet, in spite of much personal experience, there is a great deal of conflict among people over the true meaning of justice and the true meaning of mercy.

No area is more embroiled in the controversy over the true meaning of these terms than economics. The ongoing debate over national economic policy attests to this state of...

J. Gresham Machen

One of the most articulate defenders of orthodox Christian theology against the liberalizing and rationalizing trends of the early twentieth century was J. Gresham Machen. Influenced by his Reformed Protestant background, Machen was trained as a pastor at Princeton Seminary (once the center of conservative Calvinism), and authored numerous religious texts. Distressed by the forces of theological liberalism, Machen left his teaching post at Princeton to found the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination.

Yet the radical ideas Machen resisted were not exclusively...

Public Education: An Autopsy

Market based schooling sounds like a contradiction in terms to public school teachers' unions; it sounds like a non sequitur to hard-pressed denominational schools; it's Greek to the average taxpayer; but it's the next step to education critic Myron Lieberman. Eight years ago, Lieberman published Beyond Public Education, in which he prophesied the emergence of a market-based, non-establishment challenge to the clichés about educational reforms which flooded the nation in the years following publication of A Nation At Risk (the Reagan Administration's “call to arms” in the education wars). Lieberman discounted the reform rhetoric rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The fundamental disorders of public education were intrinsic to the medium-that is, education as an organized state monopoly was doomed to...

Religion, Man, and the State

R&L: Dozens of denominations and groups claim to be evangelical. Can you give us a definition of what the word means?

Henry: Catholicism and Protestantism have in modern times both had vocal orthodox and liberal elements. Orthodox Protestants were called Fundamentalists because they insisted on the great biblical basics or fundamentals. Modernist control of evangelically-founded schools and institutions and its abandonment of miraculous supernaturalism left to Fundamentalists the demanding fulfillment of world evangelism and missions. As modernist ecumenical bureaucracies aggressively expounded a “social gospel” (essentially a socialist ideology), Fundamentalism withdrew from the larger cultural arena in order to concentrate on soul-winning.

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Economics in the Catholic World

Up to recent times, the Catholic nations and regions were considered the poorest part of Christendom, “underdeveloped” not only financially but also materially. Lately, this has changed considerably, and today France and even Italy are economically stronger than predominantly Protestant countries such as Great Britain whose GNP they have overshadowed. In Europe, generally, industry is shifting its weight from the North to the South and East.

Furthermore, the Institute for Sociology at the University of Chicago has made the sensational discovery that in the United States, the socio-religious group with the highest earnings happens to be the Catholic Irish, followed by Catholic Germans. Third are Hebrews and only fourth WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). Italians are not far behind.

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A Moral Solution to Moral Problems

During Mass one Sunday after the reading of the Gospel, I settled into the pew for the homily. I expected the usual treatment of the day’s readings and a passing reference to how we can apply the words of Scripture to our everyday lives. However, on this day, the homily would have a relevant meaning for individuals and churches throughout America.

In his homily, the priest told of his first assignment after being ordained. He was to serve an inner-city church with mostly poor members. This was not exactly what the priest desired from his new vocation. In fact, he admitted he was a bit disgruntled. After all his years of education at the university and seminary, he found himself cleaning tables after providing free meals for the surrounding neighborhood. After one particular hard day, he stormed into...

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk, padre del movimiento conservador estadounidense, murió el 29 de abril a la edad de 75 años en su casa de Mecosta, Michigan. Mejor conocido por su libroThe Conservative Mind, publicado en 1953; los escritos del Dr. Kirk han influenciado dos generaciones de conservadores tanto en los Estados Unidos como en el extranjero.

Fue un prolífico escritor y columnista, publicando más de 30 libros de ficción y no ficción, así como cientos de ensayos y reseñas. Durante 30 años editó la revista trimestral sobre libros titulada The University Bookman, y...

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk, noto per il suo libro The Conservative Mind, pubblicato nel 1953 è stato il padre del movimento conservativo americano, morì il 29 Aprile all’età di 75 anni nella sua casa nel Mecosta, in Michigan. Gli scritti del dott. Kirk hanno influenzato due generazioni di conservatori sia negli Stati Uniti che all’estero.

Fu uno scrittore e un cronista molto prolifico, pubblicando più di 30 libri di narrativa e non, così come centinaia di saggi e recensioni. Per 30 anni diresse la rivista trimestrale sui libri dal titolo The University Bookman, e fu anche il fondatore di una rivista critica sulla politica e la cultura...

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk, father of the American conservative movement, died April 29th at the age of 75 in his home in Mecosta, Michigan. Best known for his book The Conservative Mind, published in 1953, Dr. Kirk's writings have influenced two generations of conservatives in the United States and abroad.

He was a prolific writer and columnist, publishing over 30 books of fiction and non-fiction, as well as hundreds of essays and reviews. For 30 years, he edited The University Bookman, a quarterly review of books, and was the founder of Modern Age, a critical review of politics and...