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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Initial Reactions to Centesimus Annus

The Wall Street Journal, May 1

Centesimus Annus is a ringing endorsement of the market economy. The endorsement is, however, joined to powerful challenges…

“John Paul affirms a ‘new capitalism.’ But the term he prefers is simply ‘free economy.’ Of course socialism is economically disastrous, but what he calls the ‘evil’ of the system imposed by the communist ‘empire’ is the denial of freedom. Readers will miss the gravamen of this encyclical if they do not recognize that it is, first and most importantly, an argument about human nature. Capitalism is the economic corollary of the Christian understanding of man’s nature and destiny…

“The pope says that we can now see how prescient...

Jean-Baptiste-Henri Dominique Lacordaire

Lacordaire was born on May 12, 1802, near the French town of Dijon. In spite of his parents’ fervent religious devotion, young Lacordaire remained atheistic until a profound religious experience forced him from a career in law into divinity. After completing seminary, he accepted a teaching position and was appalled at his students’ relative disregard for religion. In an effort to revive public affection for the Roman Catholic Church, he argued for its freedom from state assistance and protection in L’Avenir, a newspaper with which he collaborated. He later accepted the pulpit at the famed Cathedral of Notre Dame,...

Eastern Europe at the Crossroads

R&L: The people of Eastern Europe have been profoundly shaped by their religious attitudes. What role do you think religion can and should play in the reconstruction of Eastern Europe?

Friedman: I am not an expert on that subject, and I do not know. I suspect, however, that the reconstruction of Eastern Europe will not owe very much to religion in any organized or systematic sense. The growth and development of Britain and the United States and other advanced countries did not owe anything to organized religion. Unquestionably a society’s growth and health depends on the values of the society. It depends on the strength of the family unit, on the character of the people. Those things are important. Insofar as religion helps to inculcate those values, it undoubtedly has a...

Liberation Cinema: A Review of Romero

(Editor’s note: Romero will be aired as the CBS “Movie of the Week” on April 16. The following review is revised and reprinted with permission from the January 1990 issue of Reason magazine, copyright 1990 by the Reason Foundation, 2716 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 1062, Santa Monica, CA 90405.)

A dear friend of mine recently wrote these speculative words to me: “I’ve often wondered what I would do if I were a theologian in some Latin American country confronting the frequently terrible consequences of the country’s feudalism. I had been taught to call the economy ‘capitalism,’ for which there was no remedy except that touted by the communists. I’d probably try to work out some improbable modus vivendi between my Christianity and Marxism!”

The...

Twilight of the Idols

False gods exert a strong appeal, but they always fail – eventually. The false gods of tribalism, nationalism and race are ancient; we’ve had them with us always, in every part of the globe. The modern mentality has generated its own gods, more deadly than the old. The most potent of these new gods are the idols of political ideology and scientistic utopianism. Minions of these gods attempt to politicize every sector of life. According to their creed, every individual belongs to the State; no one may exercise his private inclinations except when Big Brother looks the other way. The Rule is: “Whatever actions are not commanded are forbidden.” Today is made worse so that tomorrow might be perfect. People endure a dreary present, having been duped by the contrived myth of felicity tomorrow in a classless society.

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Emil Brunner

"This inversion of the structure of the State which, instead of being built up from below, is organized from above, is the one great iniquity of our time, the iniquity which overshadows all others, and generates them of itself. The order of creation is turned upside down; what should be last is first, the expedient, the subsidiary, has become the main thing. The State, which should be only the bark on the life of the community, has become the tree itself."

Neo-orthodox theologian Emil Brunner was ordained in the Swiss Reformed Church and was professor of systematic theology at the University of Zurich, where he taught continuously, except for extensive lecture tours in the...

Will It Liberate?

R&L: What impact has the Revolution of 1989 had on liberation theologians?

Novak: In a debate two months ago, I heard Hugo Assman say that the upheaval in Eastern Europe prompted him to rethink the notion of “basic needs.” He used to say that there were some things that he did not admire in Eastern European socialism, but at least those countries met the basic needs of their people. He wished that all countries in Latin America could do at least as well. But the revolt of Eastern Europe showed him that a strategy of “basic needs” is not enough.

Prisons fulfill the basic needs of prisoners; free peoples want more than that. They want real freedom, not just the satisfaction of animal needs. So, the revolt against socialism in Eastern Europe is...

Faith and the Free Market in the Third World: Death Knell for Socialism and Liberation Theology?

Last November the Orange County (CA) Register and Hillsdale College’s Shavano Institute co-sponsored a conference entitled “Faith and the Free Market”. The following is adapted from Fr. Robert Sirico’s speech by the same name.

That socialism is at a critical juncture is evident by the numerous recent conferences, monographs, books and articles attempting to assess the significance of the unscrambling of the Communist omelet in Eastern Europe and the legitimacy of replacing it with an economic system organized around the principle of the right to ownership of private property.

My thesis is that there is no necessary contradiction between a society that is free and one that is virtuous; more precisely, it is my contention that economic liberty is necessary for a free...