|Motto||Connecting good intentions with sound economics|
|Type||Public policy think tank|
|Headquarters||98 E. Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA|
|Robert A. Sirico, Kris Alan Mauren|
|This article is part of a series on|
the United States
The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is an American research and educational institution, or think tank, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, (with an office in Rome) whose stated mission is "to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles". Its work supports free market economic policy framed within Judeo-Christian morality. It has been alternately described as conservative and libertarian. Acton Institute also organizes seminars "to educate religious leaders of all denominations, business executives, entrepreneurs, university professors, and academic researchers in economics principles."
The Acton Institute was founded in 1990 in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Robert A. Sirico and Kris Alan Mauren. It is named after the English historian, politician and writer Lord Acton, who is popularly associated with the dictum "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Sirico and Mauren were concerned that many religious people were ignorant of economic realities, and that many economists and businessmen were insufficiently grounded in religious principles. Sirico explains the essential link between economics and religion with reference to the institute's namesake:
Acton realized that economic freedom is essential to creating an environment in which religious freedom can flourish. But he also knew that the market can function only when people behave morally. So, faith and freedom must go hand in hand. As he put it, "Liberty is the condition which makes it easy for conscience to govern".
The release in 1991 of the papal encyclical Centesimus annus buoyed the institute at a critical time. The document provided, a year after Acton's founding, established support for the institute's economic personalism and defense of capitalism. Robert Sirico said at the time that it constituted a "vindication".
In 2002, the Institute opened a Rome office, Istituto Acton, to carry out Acton's mission abroad. In 2004, the Institute was given the Templeton Freedom Award for its "extensive body of work on the moral defense of the free market". In 2012, the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania included Acton in its list of the top 50 think tanks in the United States.
In 2005, Mother Jones published a chart which included the Acton Institute on a list of groups that had reportedly received a donation ($155,000) from ExxonMobil. As of 2007, the Institute had received funding from the Earhart Foundation and the Bradley Foundation. The Grand Rapids Press wrote in 2013 that much of the Acton Institute's funding comes from residents of western Michigan, including John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam Corp., and Amway co-founder Richard DeVos.
The Acton Institute has built a network of international affiliations including Centro Interdisciplinar de Ética e Economia Personalista, Brazil, Europa Institut, Austria, Institute for the Study of Human Dignity and Economic Freedom, Zambia and Instituto Acton Argentina Organization.
Research and publications
- Journal of Markets & Morality:
- Abraham Kuyper Translation Project:
- In 2011, the institute began a collaboration with Kuyper College to translate into English the three-volume work Common Grace (De Gemene Gratie in Dutch) of politician, journalist and Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper. The work, written from 1901-05 while he was Prime minister of the Netherlands, addresses the advance of both Marxism and libertarianism from an ecumenical Christian viewpoint as part of an effort to build a "constructive public theology" for the Western world. The first volume of the translation, Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art, was unveiled in November, 2011.
- Religion & Liberty:
- The Samaritan Guide:
- Through 2008, the institute gave an annual Samaritan Award to a "highly successful, privately funded charity whose work is direct, personal, and accountable". The Samaritan Guide was produced to encourage effective charitable giving by establishing a rating system for charities considered for the Samaritan Award.
- Acton Notes:
- The Acton PowerBlog:
Films produced by the Acton Institute include The Call of the Entrepreneur (2007) and Poverty, Inc. (2014), which won a 2014 Templeton Freedom Award from the Atlas Network. Poverty Inc. is part of the Acton Institute's PovertyCure initiative, which seeks to create solutions to poverty by "moving efforts from aid to enterprise and from paternalism to partnerships."
Besides Sirico, notable scholars associated with the institute include Anthony Bradley, Jordan Ballor, Stephen Grabill, Michael Matheson Miller, Marvin Olasky, Kevin Schmiesing, and Jonathan Witt. The institute's director of research is Samuel Gregg, author of the prize-winning book The Commercial Society. Andreas Widmer is a research fellow in entrepreneurship for the research department.
Current and former members of the institute's board of directors include Alejandro Chafuen, former president of the Atlas Network; Gaylen Byker, president emeritus of Calvin College; Sean Fieler, Equinox Partners; Leslie Graves, president of the Lucy Burns Institute; Frank Hanna III of Hanna Capital; and Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute.
As of 2018 the Acton Institute had total assets of $16,064,623.
|Funding details as of 2018:
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- "Our team". Acton Institute. Retrieved 25 April 2019.