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Does the Acton Institute advocate specific political positions or candidates?

Because the Acton Institute deals with issues often at the heart of political debates, some people assume that Acton is a political organization and somehow aligned with a particular agenda or political party. This is simply not the case. Acton is not and does not desire to be affiliated with any political party or candidate or any partisan movement.

There are two reasons why the Acton Institute does not lobby for or against specific candidates or legislation. The first is that we simply are not allowed by law to do so. Because of our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, we are legally obligated to refrain from engaging in specific partisan activity.

But even if we could do so, we wouldn't. There is another more basic reason why the Acton Institute refrains from endorsing specific political candidates or legislation: the Acton Institute is primarily an educational institution that seeks to provide the moral and intellectual instruction necessary for free persons to take well-informed, just, charitable, and effective actions. Because of its strong emphasis on the dignity of the human person—a foundation for all we do here—Acton respects and endorses the freedom and initiative of the individual. To advocate specific political candidates or legislation would undercut our message of responsibility. It is much better to lay out prudent principles and to let persons act in freedom and with a well-informed conscience.

This does not mean, however, that Acton refrains from delving into public policy issues. While we do not advocate for or against specific legislation, we do think it important to explain how the basic ideas of freedom and responsibility play themselves out in areas such as educational choice, environmental stewardship, effective compassion, and technology regulation. In each of these areas, policies can be introduced that deny the inherent dignity of the human person; therefore, Acton considers it an essential part of its mission to remind policy makers of their responsibility to safeguard this dignity. We do so by providing sound economic and moral education to the policymakers' boss: you.

Kris Mauren
Executive Director