Acton Institute Powerblog

(one reason) why more than abortion matters…

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Among those on the so-called Religious Right, it is common to reduce political interests to “life” issues– most notably, abortion.

But in recent months, in the midst of the financial crisis and an economic recession, I’ve gotten many letters and emails about fund-raising problems within Christian organizations.

Although such concerns don’t rise to the level of abortion, they– and thus, economics and the politics that affect those economics– are non-trivial as well.

Beyond that, there are many issues which speak to “economic justice”– another huge Biblical theme.

If you’re familiar with Acton’s work, I’m preaching to the choir. But it bears repeating: We only have so much time to invest in politics, but economics and political shenanigans within the economic sphere should not be dismissed out-of-hand.

Eric Schansberg Dr. Eric Schansberg is a Professor of Economics at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany where he has been on faculty for 17 years after earning his Ph.D. in Economics from Texas A&M University. Dr. Schansberg is the author of Turn Neither to the Right nor to the Left: A Thinking Christian's Guide to Politics and Public Policy, Poor Policy: How Government Harms the Poor. He is co-author of Thoroughly Equipped, a 21-month Discipleship Curriculum, and he is the editor of SchansBlog. Eric has been married to Tonia for 13 years and is the proud father of four boys—two by adoption and two the more conventional way. Their family is active in K-TAG—the Kentuckiana Trans-racial Adoption Group.


  • Two of Lord Acton’s most famous quotes come to mind on the matter of abortion:

    “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.”

    “There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.”

  • We need a political agenda that combines conservative social positions with ‘moderate socialist’ economic principles (which is not socialist at all and recognizes the primacy of the principle of private property), ala Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno. We need a party like that. There are several contenders (as the one I discuss in ‘Holy Mass and the Stock Market’ at my blog) who have the economic agenda and also declare they are Pro-life, but in the end they are pro-life as Obama advertises himself to be pro-life (it is there his silver tongue begins to remind you of Hitler). As one such organizer told me, ‘abortion’s important but not important enough to cause a civil war over.’ We need a party that believes it is, but also believes that capitalism must be protected from its own excesses, especially regarding concentration of ownership.

    Dare I say we need a Catholic state? But XI did not say that was necessary.

  • CT

    You’d endorse starting a civil war over abortion? Do say more.

  • Not a shooting war, CT. Just a phrase to indicate the priority.

  • Jean

    Dare I offer my version of an answer to this question of civil war? I’ve spent several years semi-professionally counseling teenage mothers, and many years praying with women over many issues of their youth. I believe that civil war is at our door.

    Abortion has already done it’s work. It has opened the door to what is about to transpire. Abortion has demoralized mothers, ridiculed fatherhood,and made marriage an old fashioned idea. Most women I have known are in need of serious psychological counseling.

    I believe the other door to civil war has been the drug trade. Many young men have been drawn into this trade as a means to wealth and happiness. Then it becomes violence.

    We are ripe for civil war, because of our own demoralization. We are too self centered, having too many emotional ills to see the need for such things as military defense or adequate business dealings. Civil war will be between those who wish America to continue and those who see it as causing all their problems.
    May it not be so.

  • Hi, Jean,

    I appreciate your frustration, but I have to suspect that you, like me, don’t really mean ‘civil war’ as in a real shooting war. You probably mean that we need to make abortion the central issue, since it is so very central to every challenge facing the US today, whether we’re talking economy or Middle East. But as Christians we just don’t turn to physical violence easily. We have that example of St. Peter cutting off the soldier’s ear and Jesus taking the time to heal it back up even before going off to get himself killed. I’m sure you know what I mean, just as I know very well how heart-breaking it is to talk to women who enjoy all that “freedom” of being pushed into the abortion center.

  • CT

    That’s right: may it not be so. Let’s hope that the phrase “clinging to their guns…” isn’t prophetic. To this end, let me suggest that Jan Baker’s comparison of Obama to Hitler is wildly inappropriate. Some of the readers here may have sympathies with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

  • Let me say again, and this time hope that someone is listening for the point rather than nitpicking, namedropping, or ranting: we need a party that combines economic liberalism with conservatism on social issues. If you know of such a party, please respond. But just make sure they do not use ‘pro-life’ loosely, as the party I encountered does.

    Perhaps I’m not so much comparing Obama to Hitler (for perhaps Hitler had some talent gone wrong). I’m comparing Obama’s cheering audiences with Hitler’s. Time will tell. You must know that when the lines are fully extended, they converge: there isn’t any difference between fascism and communism to the ordinary man and woman.

  • JB said: we need “a political agenda that combines conservative social positions with ‘moderate socialist’ economic principles”

    From another angle, I would say that we need a coherent, Biblical approach to government– on issues of social morality, social justice, and economic justice. As I have written about at some length, that does not result in Christian advocacy of either “conservative social positions” (en masse) or “moderate socialis[m]” in economic matters.