Acton Communications Specialist Elise Hilton joined host Shelly Irwin today on the WGVU Morning Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan to discuss Acton’s upcoming moderated panel discussion on the issue of human trafficking, Hidden No More: Exposing Human Trafficking in West Michigan. Take a listen to the interview via the audio player below, make sure to listen to the podcast on the topic here, and if you’re able, register for the event that takes place on March 28th right here at the Acton Building’s Mark Murray Auditorium.
The city of Grand Rapids, Mich. continues to deny the Acton Institute application for property tax-exemption, even as Acton presents evidence to support such status.
The Acton Institute, recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and ranked #11 in the world as a social policy think tank by the University of Pennsylvania, received notice from City Assessor Scott Engerson that it did not meet the criteria for tax-exempt status for property tax purposes.
Most people think that if they’re a tax-exempt 501(c)3 they’re exempt from property tax, and that’s not the case in Michigan,” he said. “In regard to Acton, it’s the charitable piece that the city was not able to definitively conclude.”
In today’s National Catholic Register, reporter Joan Frawley Desmond talks to John Kennedy, a Grand Rapids-based business owner of Autocam, a company that makes both precision auto parts and medical supplies. Kennedy (who is a board member of the Acton Institute) speaks candidly about his faith, his company’s future and the HHS mandate battle.
The Obama administration has sought to dismiss the merits of HHS lawsuits filed by business owners like Kennedy, arguing that free exercise and statutory religious-freedom protections only apply to individuals, not “corporations.”
While Kennedy and other HHS for-profit plaintiffs have gone to court to obtain a reprieve, Planned Parenthood has framed their legal fight as an effort to stop a threat to women’s reproductive rights. “The bosses want to deny your birth-control coverage,” announced one story on the Planned Parenthood’s website that has sparked editorials and commentary echoing its claim.
But Kennedy contends that his faith is integral to Autocam’s corporate culture and that the country actually needs more business leaders inspired by strong ethical and moral values and guided by Catholic social teaching that affirms the fundamental dignity and rights of every worker.
“I went into this with some trepidation, knowing how it was going to be painted,” he acknowledged.
“But I am more convinced now that we have absolutely done the right thing by standing up for religious freedom.”
The rapidly changing events in the Ukraine are causing concern throughout the world. On March 4 at 3 p.m., a panel discussion entitled “Ukraine: The Last Frontier in the Cold War?” will be held at the Calvin College DeVos Communications Center Lobby area in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The panel will feature Todd Huizinga (Senior Research Fellow at the Henry Institute, Acton Institute Fellow, and co-founder of the Transatlantic Christian Council, with expertise on the European Union), Becca McBride (professor of Political Science at Calvin College, with research focus on Russia), and Joel Westra (professor of Political Science at Calvin College, with research focus on international relations and global security issues). Kevin den Dulk (Executive Director of the Henry Institute and professor of Political Science at Calvin College) will serve as the moderator.
The Acton Institute is pleased to co-sponsor (with Calvin College, Aquinas College, Diocese of Grand Rapids, and Holy Family Radio) the one-woman production, Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light. Starring Linn Maxwell, the free event will take place on Sunday, March 23 at 6 p.m. at the Acton Building in Grand Rapids.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is commemorated on both the Catholic and Anglican/Episcopal Calendars, and was declared a Doctor of the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI. This one-woman production, featuring music composed by St. Hildegard, also incorporates the saint’s writings.
To learn more about the production, and to make reservations, visit this Acton Event page. To read more about Linn Maxwell’s production of Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light, visit the singer’s website.
You can also read more about Hildegard of Bingen in the latest issue of Religion & Liberty.
Did you miss Acton on Tap? You really shouldn’t miss Acton on Tap. That’s a bad idea. For instance, if you missed last night’s event, you passed up an opportunity to hear Jordan J. Ballor, Executive Editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality and author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action), speak at San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, Michigan on the topic of the economics of the Heidelberg Catechism. He focused on Lord’s Days 50, 42, and 38 as the origin, essence, and goal of economic activity, and it was a really worthwhile talk.
But we’re nothing if not forgiving here at Acton, so if you weren’t able to be there, we’re posting the audio of Jordan’s talk below. Enjoy, and watch this space for info on our next Acton on Tap event!
We’ve had a busy couple of weeks at the Acton Institute, hosting a number of events here in Grand Rapids including a couple of Acton Lecture Series presentations. The first of those came on October 15, as we welcomed John Blundell, Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His talk was titled “Ladies for Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History,” and provided a fine overview of a the contribution that women have made to the struggle for liberty in American history. We’re pleased to present video of Blundell’s lecture below.
More: John Blundell spoke once before as part of the Acton Lecture Series, in 2011. You can view his earlier address, “Lessons from Margaret Thatcher,” after the jump. (more…)
If you missed Acton’s Anniversary Dinner on October 24th, well, you sort of blew it. A packed house welcomed noted satirist, student of stupidity, political reporter (but I repeat myself), and all-around fun guy P.J. O’Rourke to Grand Rapids, and he came prepared to let the audience know just how unprepared he was to address an Acton Institute function:
For more from this year’s dinner, check out this earlier post: ‘Acton has Given Me a Backbone’
With more than 1 million words of trenchant journalism under his byline and more citations in The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations than any living writer, P. J. O’Rourke has established himself as America’s premier political satirist. Both TIME and the Wall Street Journal have labeled O’Rourke as “the funniest writer in America.” Covering current events, O’Rourke combines the skill and discipline of an investigative reporter with a comedian’s sense of the absurd and the stupid. O’Rourke’s best-selling books include Parliament of Whores, Give War a Chance, Eat the Rich, The CEO of the Sofa, Peace Kills and On the Wealth of Nations.
The event will be taking place from at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich. Previous keynote speakers have included Eric Metaxas and John O’Sullivan. Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of Acton, will also be giving special remarks during the evening.
Individual tickets are $150 and table sponsorships are also available for $3,000 and $5,000. Be sure to register now by visiting www.acton.org/dinner. For more information, please contact Teresa Bailey at email@example.com or call 616.454.3080. We hope to see you there!
Looking for a great opportunity to expand your intellectual capacity? We are still seeking applicants for two upcoming Liberty and Markets conferences: Religion and Liberty: Acton and Tocqueville and Evaluating the Idea of Social Justice.
Co-sponsored by the Acton Institute and Liberty Fund, Inc., these conferences offer an excellent opportunity for networking and discussion within a small group environment, with an average faculty/participant ratio of 1:3.
Both conferences are free and include single-occupancy lodging, meals, nightly hospitality, book gifts, and up to a $500 stipend for travel and participation. A mixture of lectures and Socratic discussions of primary texts (sent out in advance of the conference) engage participants and foster in-depth dialogue.
See below for more specific details:
September 12–15, 2013 in Grand Rapids, MI
Brief Summary: At this conference, graduate students will discuss religious freedom, the church-state relationship, and the role of religion in shaping the moral order of free societies. These issues will be examined through the lens of history, and readings and discussion will explore the relationship by illustrating how, at different points in history, Christianity has acted as a support for liberty and, at others, has failed to do so. The conference readings will focus on the writings of Lord Acton and Alexis de Tocqueville, two of the most insightful nineteenth-century liberal thinkers to write about the relationship between Christianity and liberty.
Last call for applications!
Intended Audience: Individuals currently enrolled in graduate school or have completed graduate-level studies in the last 6 years
October 10–13, 2013 in Grand Rapids, MI
Brief Summary: The purpose of this conference is to explore the idea of “social justice” and compare and evaluate it against the understanding this concept now evokes in contemporary debates about justice and political order. The all-encompassing claims made on behalf of social justice in these debates often translate into calls for the reduction of personal liberty and a concomitant increase in state power to distribute material goods and the resources of private enterprise in common.
Intended Audience: Clergy, Seminarians, Church and Parachurch workers
Visit the Acton Institute events webpage for more information and to apply.