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Sirico Parables book

    When Kris Mauren and I conceived of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty nearly 30 years ago, we did so with the understanding that free markets and religious faith weren’t at odds. We argued that the two concepts were as compatible as personal liberties and human dignity. We weren’t the first to reach this conclusion—philosophers and economists had broached the subject as early as the 17th century.

    Over the subsequent centuries, however, an invisible barrier was erected between religious faith and economic reality—unless somehow that religious stripe reflected progressive redistributionist ideologies. From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the culture embraced this concept of robber barons and corporate criminality as the norm of a commercial society. Karl Marx dismissed religion completely as “the opiate of the masses.” Others, such as adherents of South America’s liberation theology movement, attempted to bend the legitimacy of Christ’s message to the logic of class warfare.

    Armed with little more than a small library of books authored by the stalwarts of Austrian economics and their counterparts from the Chicago School of Economics, Kris and I dreamed big. The two of us would establish a repository of knowledge that would, in William F. Buckley’s infamous words, stand athwart history, yelling “Stop!” In other words, we wanted to stop the rapidly growing government. We wanted people to recognize their individual dignity. We wanted people to recognize that economic freedom benefits men and woman on every rung of society’s ladder.

    For too long, we have heard that the economy is a zero-sum game and that the wealthy succeed only at the expense of the poorest and, increasingly, the natural environment. If only the world’s Ebenezer Scrooges were forced by government fiat to fork over more of their money to Leviathan’s social programs, the left argue, then all comrades would share in increased health and prosperity.

    Acton continues to prove none of the above could ever be true, which is what we initially set out to do. That Acton has grown in recognition and influence over the past 27 years—once again named one of the Top Think Tanks in the United States by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program—is but icing on the cake. We still have important work to do.

    Rev. Robert Sirico, President

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