Category: News and Events

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Did Pope Francis just publicly endorse Communism? Recent comments have prompted many to suggest he has. During an interview with Eugenio Scalfari, they had the following exchange:

[Scalfari:] You told me some time ago that the precept, “Love your neighbour as thyself” had to change, given the dark times that we are going through, and become “more than thyself.” So you yearn for a society where equality dominates. This, as you know, is the programme of Marxist socialism and then of communism. Are you therefore thinking of a Marxist type of society?
[Francis:] “It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom” (emphasis added)

Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, suggests that there’s something else going on. In a recent article for The Stream, he begins: “Marxists, Marxist ideas and Marxist regimes have brought death and destruction to millions. Yet according to Pope Francis, “if anything, the communists think like Christians.” What’s going on here?” He goes on to note that though some have accused the Pope of “Marxist sympathies,” that is simply not true: (more…)

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Vernon L. Smith speaks to Samuel Gregg at Acton University.

UPDATE: The full interview is now available online.

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In June, Nobel economist Vernon L. Smith gave an Acton University speech titled “Faith and the Compatibility of Science and Religion.” While he was in Grand Rapids, he sat down with Victor V. Claar and went into some of the specifics of his lecture, as well as his vast experience in economics, including experimental economics. Their conversation was recorded as the cover feature for the Fall issue of Religion & Liberty. As a preview for this publication — which will be available soon — enjoy part of the conversation between these two esteemed economists:

Victor Claar: How did you first become interested in economics?

Vernon Smith: Well, I was an undergraduate at Cal Tech. I didn’t even know that economics existed. I was studying physics, chemistry, and mathematics. As a senior, we had a course, Principles of Economics. I was just fascinated by economics. By then, I pretty much decided I probably wouldn’t continue in science or engineering. I hadn’t decided what to do instead. But I took that course, and then I knew what I wanted to do next, which was to go back home: to the University of Kansas. I chose Kansas because that’s where I was from and, being entirely self-supporting, I could take advantage of their low in-state tuition. So I got a master’s degree there in economics. (more…)

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Image courtesy of Clifton Reese

“When people come down here wanting to help, the first thing I tell them is, watch Poverty, Inc.”

Clifton Reese of Bonton in the south side of Dallas has taken the Poverty, Inc. message to heart. When asked what he thought of Poverty, Inc. he pointed to his heart and said, “I have it in here.”

Clifton does it all; beekeeping, taking care of his four children, urban mission work, coaching, just to name a few things. His contagious smile and loving attitude overcome you immediately. But, life didn’t always seem this hopeful.

As a child, Clifton grew up with up to ten people living in the same house at one time. Drugs, violence, and poverty consumed him from an early age. He survived domestic violence, the death of his best friend (among others), homelessness, and constant hunger. As an angry teenager, Clifton was defined by the streets, eventually turning to drug trafficking at the age of twenty-two. (more…)

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John Nunes

John Nunes has made history as the first African American president at Concordia College. On October 22, 2017, the Acton Alumnus and long-time Acton friend was installed as the ninth president of Concordia College-New York. Nunes is the only African American college president serving at an orthodox Christian college in the United States.  An ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), Nunes was most recently the Emil and Elfriede Jochum Chair at Valparaiso University and prior to that, he was the president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, a $40 million-dollar organization that seeks solutions to global poverty and injustice.

Concordia College is ranked 4th for Most International Students and top 5 for Campus Diversity in the North Region according to US News and World Report. Nunes’ installation was a historic event and was treated as such by the many students, faculty, and staff that attended. (more…)

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The Butoyi family lives in the province of Makamba, Burundi.

A new interactive tool shows that men, women, and families from around the world have a lot more similarities than differences.

With the U.S. presidential election, confusion over Brexit, and seemingly crumbling international relationships, 2016 feels like it’s been months and months of anger, resentment, and disharmony. Americans—and non-Americans too—are feeling like we have nothing in common with anyone anymore. It’s worth taking a moment to look at the data and realize that just isn’t true.

Gapminder recently launched a new project, “Dollar Street,” with the tagline, “where country stereotypes fall apart.” This project is a study of 240 homes in 50 countries that includes more than 30,000 photos. Imagine that the entire world lives on one street, Dollar Street, and the houses are lined up by monthly income, those making $26 are on the far left and, the highest in study, a family making $11,381/month are on the far right. Everyone else falls somewhere between them. Gapminder asks, “Where would you live? Would your life look different than your neighbours’ from other part of the world, who share the same income level?” (more…)

Hurricane Matthew has come and gone, but it has left one country, Haiti, in ruins.  Just like in the aftermath of many disasters, we will see a flood of emergency aid and disaster relief pour into this country; Many have good intentions and a strong desire to help.  This is a good thing.  It’s important that people rally around each other in times of need. The problem arises when this becomes the permanent model.

This is the core theme of a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, written shortly after the storm was over.  Mary Anastasia O’Grady, a writer at WSJ, says this:

If people are living in tin-roof shacks when a hurricane hits, ruin is predictable. But why are so many Haitians still living in such dire poverty in the 21st century? (more…)

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Pope Francis meets students from Jesuit schools at an audience in the Paul VI Hall.

We all (probably) want to reduce poverty, but how do we actually go about doing that? Pope Francis has been extremely vocal about this problem, but many have taken issue with his suggested solutions.When describing modern capitalism, he’s used phrases like “globalización de la indiferencia” and “cultura del descarte” or a globalization of indifference and a throwaway culture. Beyond soundbites and one-liners, many are trying to get at the exact meaning of the Pope’s statements on economics and poverty.

During a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, spoke to La Nacion’s Ramiro Pellet Lastra about these issues. Gregg states that the Pope’s very populist language when discussing economics and poverty suggests that he does not appear to have a clear understanding of how markets actually function. Like Pope Francis, Gregg sees the common good as very important but argues that this is compatible with free markets. In fact when you dispense with free markets and economic freedom in the name of the common good, as did Communist systems, it leads to even greater poverty. (more…)