On Sept. 18, the Acton Institute held its annual dinner and lecture in downtown Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Club.

J. Christopher Donahue, president and chief executive officer of Federated Investors, Inc., emceed the event and Lisa Slayton, president of Serving Leaders and The Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, gave the invocation for the evening.  Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of Acton, gave the keynote lecture for the evening:  “Religious Liberty and Economic Liberty:  Twin Guarantees for Human Freedom.”

Rev. Sirico started the evening by talking about why property rights are important to liberty.  Property allows us to put ourselves into the creation of things.  Humans have the capacity to create wealth.  The human being transcends creation as we are able to create.  “Without the right of property, civilization begins to crumble,” Rev. Sirico said. “Culture begins to crumble.”  He gave a textbook example of this—the former Soviet Union. Both religion and property rights were confiscated–and you can see what happened.

Religious liberty is also under attack today.  Rev. Sirico stated that we need true tolerance and not fake tolerance that distorts words.  True tolerance is when one permits something to exist that they don’t like but not necessarily accepting things you don’t like or agree with.  We see a complete distortion of this today.  The ones calling for tolerance twenty or so years ago today are among the most intolerant bigots in the name of tolerance.  We need to see the connection of religious and economic liberty before it is too late.

A time of questions and answers with Rev. Sirico concluded the evening.  Questions and topics tackled by Rev. Sirico included:

How do we change the tide of thought for young people who are told the rhetoric to believe and how to respond to it?

Separation of church and state and what it was really intended for not what it has been taken to be today.

Social justice and social entrepreneurship.  How does one define these terms?

How does tolerance play out in a pluralistic society with different beliefs?

The complete audio recording of the evening with Rev. Robert Sirico is available below.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Rev. Michael Allison

Richard & Joanne Beyer

Center for Leadership/Franciscan University

Federated Investors, Inc.

Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation/Serving Leaders

The Duquesne Club