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    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Oct. 2, 2007) -- The Acton Institute will honor former Estonian prime minister, Dr. Mart Laar, with the Faith & Freedom Award at the institute's annual dinner in Grand Rapids on Oct. 24.

    At age 32, Dr. Laar became prime minister of Estonia in 1992, a country economically and politically devastated by Communism. A two-term prime minister, Dr. Laarís leadership, integrity, and ingenuity radically transformed Estonia, helping the country become one of the worldís most dynamic economies. With his free-market reforms, Estonia and its people flourished, experiencing a 7 percent annual rate of growth and 90 percent of all enterprises being returned to private hands. Estonia is now ranked 12th out of 165 countries in the Economic Freedom of the World index.

    Dr. Laar is also a distinguished historian, and the author of War in the Woods, in which he documents Estonian resistance to Soviet occupation after World War II. Dr. Laar has received numerous awards in recognition of his accomplishments, most recently, the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Dr. Laar has written for the Wall Street Journal and has been featured in articles from The Economist, The Washington Times, and Business Week.

    At the dinner, Dr. Laar will discuss the transition of Estonia from the status of an impoverished former republic of the Soviet Union to a nation now ranked among those enjoying the highest degrees of economic liberty in the world.

    In Laarís view, the task of government is to empower people and to give them their liberty. “When you live in a society where liberty doesnít exist, then you know how valuable it is,” he said.

    Dr. Laar often refers to the role played by his Christian faith in providing him with a moral compass and giving him the courage to make difficult but necessary economic decisions.

    Other recipients of Acton's Faith & Freedom Award include business pioneer and philanthropist John Marks Templeton; Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the former archbishop of Saigon, Vietnam; Rocco Buttiglione, Italy's Minister of European Affairs and an academic philosopher; and Charles W. “Chuck” Colson, bestselling author and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

    Tickets are still available for the Acton annual dinner at the new J.W. Marriott hotel in Grand Rapids. To register online, please visit: /dinner/.

    About the Acton Institute

    With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

    The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."

    Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting Eric Kohn at (616) 454-3080 or at [email protected]