We have repeatedly claimed that individual rights from the Anglo-Saxon tradition are of a Judeo-Christian, origin and that due to this, the US Declaration of Independence is fully coherent when asserting that God has endowed all men with the certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. To safeguard these rights, the 1787 US Constitution was later ordained and established.
Secularists –and not Christian healthy secularity- intend to sweep all the religious influence from the public square, when confusing “public” with “state”. That a nation such as the United States should acknowledge God as the origin of individual rights, far from being a sign of intolerance towards non-believers, grants the latter their utmost liberty, by grounding religious liberty not on the whim of the ruler, but on the recognition of natural law stemming from God through human nature. The Ten Commandments are precisely those explicitly proclaimed by God in rough times, to remind men about the elemental rules of justice and the notion of the individual person, almost impossible to have risen out in the West without God’s special intervention. (more…)
Since the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si by Francis, a long-unheard rumble has been growing across the world public opinion. He is an expert in making himself heard, so we might as well rest it as it is, because Francis would be pleased. Our readers, however, are used to our fixing troubles, so we will once again meet the subjective claim of the market.
The Laudato Si embraces three aspects: a theological aspect, an economic aspect, and a scientific aspect.
The primary aspect, also the specific realm of the teachings of the Church, is the theological one. Here lies a matter that has remained partly unseen or, better, unheard in the midst of the voices stirring, either in anger or in praise, about the Laudato.(more…)
The Acton Institute has been named as one of six finalists for this year’s $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award for its documentary film, Poverty, Inc. The announcement of the finalists was made Monday by the Atlas Network, a Washington-based organization that advances the work of market-oriented public policy organizations all over the world. The winner will be selected Nov. 12 in New York.
Atlas’ description of Poverty, Inc. says the documentary “provides a comprehensive perspective on the issue, giving voice to charity workers, local micro-entrepreneurs, politicians, and leading development experts such as Paul Collier of Oxford University, Marcela Escobari of Harvard University’s Center for International Development, and Hernando de Soto of Atlas Network partner the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. This film is part of Acton Institute’s multi-year educational initiative, PovertyCure, which also includes a dedicated website, a group study curriculum, a mentorship program, and a ReThink Missions toolkit.”
Kris Mauren, executive director of the Acton Institute, said that on issues of international development and foreign aid, the United States is at a tipping point. (more…)
In a recent article for The Stream, Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg asks the question, “Is Catholicism Compatible with the American Experiment?” Gregg cites an article by political philosopher Patrick Deneen who suggested that “the main argument among American Catholics will concern the relationship of modern liberal democracies–and, at a deeper level, the American Founding–with Catholicism.” Gregg doesn’t necessarily disagree with this assertion, but argues that it “reaches further back to the early modern period often called the Enlightenment.”
The Enlightenment was hugely influential on the American founding:
Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, for instance, sharply disagreed on many subjects, but all their serious biographers concur that both were profoundly shaped by Enlightenment writers.
The intellectual developments associated with the Enlightenment shared an emphasis on (1) asking every belief and institution to justify itself rationally, and (2) applying the tools associated with the scientific method to as many spheres of life as possible. This focus on natural philosophy and the natural sciences was especially influenced by Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia (1687) and Newton’s successful integration of the mechanics of physical observation with the mathematics of axiomatic proof, and his development of a system of scientifically verifiable predictions.(more…)
Despite ongoing conflict and regional unrest, Israel’s economy is doing exceptionally well. Unemployment is under six percent, incomes are up, and the Index of Economic Freedom shows Israel’s rank improving over the last few years while America and many Western European nations are declining. Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, discusses this situation in a new article for the Jerusalem Post. He says:
[I]t’s no exaggeration to say that many developed economies – mired in debt, out-of-control welfare spending and high unemployment – would envy the Israeli economy’s current overall trajectory.
It’s the economist’s job to try and understand why some economies, like Israel’s, are doing comparatively better than others. Less well-known, however, is that more economists are looking beyond strictly economic explanations to explain economic successes and failures. As it turns out, they are discovering that culture matters.
One of the United States’ most-recognized climate-change missionaries, Bill McKibben has made it a habit of late to hide behind the clerical garb of Christian religious to spread his message against free-market capitalism (see here, here, here, here, here and here). The past few months, McKibben has been putting Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si to work in a crusade against the fossil fuels that have generated wealth and lifted billions from poverty. This week, he writes on the New York Review of Books blog that Islam may also be useful in this regard:
On August 19, a convocation of some sixty leading Muslim clerics and religious scholars from around the planet, spurred by the growing siege of climate disasters affecting the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, issued an Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. It was far shorter than Pope Francis’s much discussed encyclical issued early in the summer, but it arrived in much the same spirit:
Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward [khalifah] on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet. This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth’s fine equilibrium [mīzān] may soon be lost. (more…)