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Editor's Note

When it comes to our first freedom, perhaps nobody is more engaged in the public square right now than Russell Moore. He is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, a theologian, and a dynamic preacher. I knew of Moore long before he was a public figure. We had both worked for the same U.S. Congressman, but at different times. I heard the Congressman and other staffers praise Moore's work, integrity, and his commitment to his faith on many occasions. I was glad to finally connect with him for the purpose of this interview in this issue.

Moore discusses the state of religious liberty today and delves into why Baptists offer a unique insight on this issue because of their own persecution in American history. He also touches on the importance of ecumenical cooperation for religious liberty, an area where he has emerged as a leader.

Pope Francis has rightfully taken some criticism on his economic views but in "Shades of Solzhenitsyn," Kevin Duffy offers some high praise for the pontiff in regards to his teachings on the human person and materialism. The author's main point is that both Solzhenitsyn and Francis offer a deep understanding of the problems that plague Western society and are committed to deeper truths. We live in a world that is starved and isolated from morality and I think readers will find that this piece is a valuable contribution and the comparison of these two great figures has merit.

Acton's Dylan Pahman reviews Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks by well-known Old Testament scholar Walter Bruggemann. I offer a review of Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets by Peter Schweizer. The book is a follow-up to Schweizer's Throw Them All Out, which garnered a lot of attention, much to the disdain of our entrenched political class in Washington D.C. Schweizer was interviewed in the Winter 2013 issue of Religion & Liberty.

"Christian Environmentalism and Temptation of Faux Asceticism" is an essay adapted from the new Acton monograph Creation and the Heart of Man: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Environmentalism by Fr. Michael Butler and Andrew Morriss.

The "In the Liberal Tradition" figure is Richard Baxter, an English Puritan leader. Max Weber declared that Baxter was the embodiment of the Protestant work ethic. Baxter was one of the most prolific theological writers of the 17th Century.

Acton's executive director Kris Mauren discusses an important subject about government valuing the role of charities and non-profits. Acton is defending its application for a Grand Rapids property tax exemption and Mauren offers important insight on pressure from local governments.