Skip to main content
Listen to Acton content on the go by downloading the Radio Free Acton podcast! Listen Now

Sirico Parables book

    “There oughta be a law!” It’s a statement we grew up saying either out of sincere earnestness or frivolous irony. Either way, the expression is loaded with frightening suppositions that humankind somehow can restrain the totality of its nature into an arbitrary mold of what constitutes perfection.

    It seems the impulsive will to impose legal authority over other humans is in our social DNA. Nearly 4,000 years ago, the Babylonian Hammurabi etched 282 cuneiform laws into stone. The Babylonian code was preceded 300 years earlier by the Code of Ur-Nammu in Mesopotamia. Some of these rules are pursuant to what we at the Acton Institute and in our movement at large identify as natural law, whether Hammurabi recognized it or not.

    “...top-down governance is antithetical to freedom, free will and personal responsibility.”

    Centuries of political philosophy and trial and error followed, resulting in the Magna Carta in 1215, the 1689 British Bill of Rights and the U.S. Bill of Rights a century later. Each of these limited the reach of government into the lives of the individuals and groups ruled thereunder.

    In between Hammurabi and the Bill of Rights, centuries of Jewish and Christian teachings instructed the 10 Commandments among other troves of Biblically inspired wisdom related to human behavior and interaction. The accretion of more than four millennium of lawmaking has done little to stem the statist impulse of our political leaders and worshipers of big government.

    Never mind that constitutional efforts to limit government power as well as empirical evidence that top-down governance is antithetical to freedom, free will and personal responsibility. The halls of Washington and corridors of state capitols continuously abound with legislators promulgating cumbersome laws.

    Worse, lawmakers are abetted by social justice warriors who mask their political agendas behind a thin veneer of religious faith. Among their many agendas is government-mandated wealth distribution as a substitute for true Christian philanthropy.

    Attempts to circumscribe all human activity to the whims and desires of government architects are the tools of those for whom personal responsibility exercised through religious faith and/or natural law is anathema.

    There oughta be a law, indeed. In fact, there oughta be a lot less.

    Most Read


    Rev. Robert A. Sirico is president emeritus and the co-founder of the Acton Institute. Hereceived his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990.