Religion & Liberty Article Listing

On Catholic Communitarianism

These twelve essays that compriseCatholicism and Liberalism were originally read for study sessions at Georgetown University in 1989 and 1990 under the auspices of the Woodstock Theological Center and Georgetown’s Department of Government. The distinguished collaborators in this project convened to explore ways to improve relations between the historically antipathetical forces of liberalism and Catholicism. At the threshold of the 1990s both traditions looked vital and promising.

Emboldened by the West’s triumph over the Soviet Empire, Francis Fukuyama celebrated “Western liberal democracy as the final form of government.” Catholicism’s heightened prestige rested on its central role in the defeat of communism. Its quarter-century of Ostpolitik culminated in Mikhail...

Michigan Welfare Reform has Long Since Begun

R&L: Many conservative leaders, including yourself, have referred to the “paradigm shift” that is occurring in the nation’s approach to welfare. What does that term mean to you?

Engler: “Paradigm shift” is a much better word than “reform” to describe the dramatic changes we see taking place in this nation’s thinking about welfare. No one defends the current welfare state anymore, which discourages mothers from marrying, encourages fathers to abandon their children, and puts no value on work and thrift.

The current broken system is the legacy of the so-called Great Society, which was in many ways a great mistake. After three decades’ experience with this social disaster, people are coming to realize that we cannot just...

Morality as Cooperation

Living a “moral” life is often contrasted with living a “prosperous” life. Major philosophers, ancient and modern, have tended to praise the virtuous life of personal sacrifice for the public good, while discounting the moral worth of the individual’s pursuit of individual happiness. When an individual’s pursuit of his own interests generates socially desirable outcomes it is understood as a mere accident, and when attempts by political leaders to achieve a defined social virtue result in degradation (economic and moral) of the people, it is explained as an accident of history or the corruption of an ideal by unscrupulous individuals.

If in the aftermath of a natural disaster that knocks out electricity, the local hardware dealer increases the price of battery-run electric generators,...

Single Mothers Deserve Better

In a peculiar ideological twist, some opponents of abortion are opposing cuts in aid to single mothers. Many prolifers including National Right to Life, fear that such reductions in benefits will lead to an increase in abortions. Even Henry Hyde has joined Patricia Shroeder in being skeptical of welfare reform.

If this argument persuades, it could weaken ties between the Republican party and the anti-abortion movement.

But is their concern legitimate? Should we continue to subsidize single motherhood for fear that poor mothers might otherwise terminate their pregnancies? The answer is no on both counts.

State subsidies to single mothers encourage promiscuity. The point of removing the subsidies is to restore the natural penalties of risking...

Free Market Environmentalism

In the decade or so preceding her death this past spring, the noted scientist and occasional politician, Dr. Dixy Lee Ray, earned a reputation as the nation's most insightful critic of modern environmentalism. In a letter written three years before her death, she summed up what she had learned, observing that environmentalism, “as we have come to know it in the waning years of the twentieth century,” is “anti-development, anti-progress, anti-technology, anti-business, anti-established institutions, and, above all, anti-capitalism.”

Many in the environmental movement would agree. A published report in the newsletter of the Earth First! environmentalist group, for example, says “industrialism [is] the main force behind the environmental crises.” One noted environmentalist, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, says...


The authors of Eco-Sanity have addressed a formidable challenge in bringing empirical analysis to the religious subject of environmentalism. By looking at a wide array of issues, they give readers a solid sense of the diversity of environmental problems as well as the recurrent similarities. They have done a commendable job, and I admire their efforts.

However, I encourage the authors and sympathetic readers to defer optimism about the impact of this book's important perspective. We should carefully separate our hopes from our expectations when dealing with the prospect of environmental reforms. Even solid analysis, compelling recommendations, and substantively important payoffs do not guarantee useful reforms.

Existing laws, regulations, and perspectives are seldom accidents...

Environmental Overkill

If one believes what passes for science these days, the world is about to end. The globe is warming, ozone is disappearing, smog is expanding, forests are shrinking, species are dying, and carcinogens are spreading. What were once thought to be good--population growth and technological advance--are actually bad. Without radical change, it is said, the environment and mankind are doomed.

Sadly, this is what Vice President Gore, Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner, a host of congressmen and senators, and much of the media establishment believe. As a result, federal policy is becoming increasingly costly and draconian making Americans both poorer and less free. This course might arguably be worth it if the result would be to save us from otherwise certain destruction.


Earth in the Balance

There has been much talk in the last couple of months about the Religious Right's growing involvement and influence within the Republican Party. Amid all the concern about the threat to our civil liberties represented by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, the media has greatly neglected the emergence of a more serious menace: Capture of the Democratic Party by the Ecological Religious Left.

Vice President Al Gore has emerged as the spokesman of eco-paganism, a pantheistic prophet of global environmental catastrophe. As made clear in his book, Earth in the Balance, Gore envisions himself as the leader of an international movement to make “the rescue of the environment ... the central organizing principle for civilization.”

Gore's treatise on environmentalism became a...

Population Growth Benefits the Environment

R&L: You have written extensively on the subject of population growth. Could you explain the thesis of your argument that population growth and density are beneficial for countries in the long run.

Simon: Population growth does not have a statistically negative effect upon economic growth. We know that from 30 years of careful quantitative scientific studies-just the opposite of what the public believes. Because human knowledge allows us to produce more finished products out of fewer raw materials, natural resources are becoming more available. The air and water in rich countries are becoming cleaner. Most importantly, human beings are living much longer than ever before.

R&L: Yet we hear the fear that if there are too many...

The Ecological Gospel

David Brower is, by wide agreement, the most influential environmentalist of the past 50 years. In the 1950s and 1960s he pioneered many of the tactics later used by environmentalists to stop the construction of dams, roads, shopping centers, and all manner of projects all over the United States. He was the executive director of the Sierra Club for seventeen years, and later founded another environmental organization, Friends of the Earth.

Brower was also a leading figure in a book by one of the most observant chroniclers of our time, John McPhee. In Encounters with the Archdruid, McPhee wrote in 1971 that “Brower, who talks to groups all over the country about conservation, refers to what he says as The Sermon.” McPhee found that, “to put it mildly, there is something evangelical about Brower. His approach...

On Coercive Environmental Education

In The Religion of Environmentalism, John K. Williams wrote “Extreme environmentalism ... is a decidedly dangerous religion. Its vision of the world and of humanity's place in it reeks of superstition. The pattern of behavior it prescribes is morally grotesque....”

Williams' sentiments are hardly unique. A growing number of people are disturbed by the methods and strategies used by the environmental special interest movement, particularly in the realm of environmental education. In a previous special edition of Religion & Liberty (Fall 1992), I wrote of how environmentalism is being taken to extremes--extremes in which man is viewed as intrinsically evil or incapable, having failed miserably at caring for the earth. As a result, nature worship and the elevation of “nature” above man are...

John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman, probablemente el hombre de iglesia de más relieve en la Inglaterra del siglo XIX, nacido en la ciudad de Londres proveniente de una madre hugonote y un padre de orientación religiosa bastante tolerante. Siendo miembro de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, sus ideas sobre la religión comenzaron a desviarse paulatinamente de aquellas de la Iglesia Evangélica de Inglaterra para convertirse en aquellas del ala más conservadora de la Iglesia Católica hasta que se convirtió definitivamente al Catolicismo Romano en 1845; poco después, fue ordenado sacerdote, y más tarde, fue elegido cardenal...

John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman, probabilmente l’uomo di chiesa di spicco dell’Inghilterra del XIX sec., nacque a Londra da una madre ugonotta e da un padre di orientamento religioso molto tollerante.

Ancora membro della Chiesa d’Inghilterra, le sue idee in fatto di religione cominciarono a deviare gradualmente da quelle della Chiesa Evangelica d’Inghilterra per abbracciare quelle dell’ala più conservatrice della Chiesa Cattolica finché non si convertì definitivamente al Cattolicesimo Romano nel 1845; subito dopo, venne ordinato prete, ed in seguito eletto cardinale da Papa Leone XIII nel 1879.

Quando era ancora un prete...

John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman, perhaps the most prominent churchman of nineteenth-century England, was born in the City of London to a Huguenot mother and a father of religiously broadminded sentiments. While a member of the Church of England, his views began to move gradually from low-church evangelical to high-church catholic until his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845; soon after, he was ordained a Catholic priest, and was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.

While an Anglican priest, he spent much of his time, both on and off the Oxford University campus, fighting a form of liberalism he called the “anti-dogmatic principle”:...

Candles behind the Wall

Since the collapse of the Soviet empire, legion has been the number of studies and theories seeking to explain how and why its end came about as it did. However, few are as convincing as that put forth by Barbara von der Heydt in her new book, Candles behind the Wall: Heroes of the Peaceful Revolution That Shattered Communism. Von der Heydt’s thesis can be summed up in a phrase: communism failed because it was unable to make people forget about God.

To explain why the Iron Curtain came crashing down, most commentators have sought to focus their gaze through the conventional lens of economics and politics. In doing so, however, they have overlooked the fact that the political and economic crises paralyzing Eastern European communism by the late 1980s were the direct consequence of a prior...