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Acton Institute

Acton Institute
Motto Connecting good intentions with sound economics
Formation 1990
Type Public policy think tank
Headquarters 98 E. Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Robert A. Sirico, Kris Alan Mauren
Revenue: $12,680,511
Expenses: $7,358,337
(FYE December 2012)[1]

The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is an American research and educational institution,[2] 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".[3] Its work supports free market economic policy framed within Judeo-Christian morality.[4][5] It has been alternately described as conservative[6][7][8] and libertarian.[9][10][11]


  • History 1
  • Affiliations 2
  • Research and publications 3
  • Notable individuals associated with the Acton Institute 4
  • Funding 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Acton founders Robert Sirico (left) and Kris Mauren (right) with Ronald Reagan in his library.

The Acton Institute was founded in 1990 in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Robert A. Sirico and Kris Alan Mauren.[12] 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".[13] 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.[14] 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".[15]

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".[14][16][17]

In 2002, the Institute opened a Rome office, Istituto Acton, which carries out Acton’s mission abroad.[18] In 2004, the Institute was given the Templeton Freedom Award for its "extensive body of work on the moral defense of the free market".[18] 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.[19]


The Acton Institute is a member of the State Policy Network, American network of free-market oriented think tanks.[20]

The Acton Institute has built a network of international affiliations including Centro Interdisciplinar de Ética e Economia Personalista,

External links

  1. ^ "Charity Rating".  
  2. ^ a b c Andrews, Cory (2006), "Acton Institute", American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 8 
  3. ^ Acton Institute. About the Acton Institute. Retrieved 11 July 2011
  4. ^ Burke, Greg (8 September 1991). "The Market & Liberty". National Catholic Register (North Haven, CT). 
  5. ^ Worrall, Malika (December 20, 2007). "New film promotes entrepreneurship as divine".  
  6. ^ Leland, John (March 27, 2005). "Did Descartes Doom Terri Schiavo?".  
  7. ^ Stammer, Larry B. (April 7, 2001). "Bush Turn on Treaty Galvanizes New Green Coalition".  
  8. ^ McBrien, Father Richard P. (May 29, 2005). "Pope chronicles".  
  9. ^ Gibson, David (April 29, 2014). "Conservatives squawk over pope’s tweet on inequality".  
  10. ^ Gibson, David (September 10, 2014). "Regensburg Redux: Was Pope Benedict XVI right about Islam?".  
  11. ^ Henneberger, Melinda (June 6, 2014). "Can you be Catholic and libertarian?".  
  12. ^ Convissor, Kate (August 1999). "The Acton Institute: Of Morality & the Marketplace." Grand Rapids Magazine 36-37
  13. ^ Sullivan, Elizabeth (February 1993). "Rev. Robert Sirico: Inside Track." Grand Rapids Business Journal: 5-6.
  14. ^ a b Coulter, Michael F., ed. (2007), "Acton Institute", Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy 1, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, pp. 5–7 
  15. ^ Koshelnyk, William J. (1996). "Separation of Church and ... Capitalism". The American Voice 1 (5). pp. 6–7. 
  16. ^ a b Bandow, Doug (26 November 1992). "Preaching liberty to the unconverted". The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.). 
  17. ^ Harger, Jim (1 May 1991). "Free enterprise wins moral victory".  
  18. ^ a b (13 March 2004). "Acton Institute awarded for work in economics and ethics." The Grand Rapids Press.
  19. ^ "2012 Global Go To Think Tanks Report and Policy Advice" (PDF).  
  20. ^ "Directory SPN Members".  
  21. ^ "International Affiliates". Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Heather Richardson (Spring 1992). "Connecting Morals to Markets". Philanthropy 6 (2): 4–5. 
  23. ^ Rosmini, Antonio (2007). The Constitution under Social Justice. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-0725-9.
  24. ^ HighBeam Research. "Journal of Markets & Morality." [3]. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d "Liberty, Economics, and the Clergy". Organization Trends (Washington, D.C.:  
  26. ^ Baker, Hunter (24 January 2011). "Jordan Ballor on Ecumenical Babel". Mere Comments ( 
  27. ^ Kopenkoskey, Paul R. (28 May 2011). "'Grace' translation under way". The Grand Rapids Press. pp. C1–C2. 
  28. ^ "Acton Institute and Kuyper College launch ‘Common Grace,’ a major Abraham Kuyper translation project" (Press release). The Acton Institute. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  29. ^ "Christian’s Library Press Launches New Kuyper Book in San Francisco and Grand Rapids" (Press release). Christian's Library Press. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "Award - The Samaritan Guide". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  31. ^ Olasky, Marvin (1 September 2007). "Fighting the Good Poverty Fight".  
  32. ^ "Acton Notes". Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  33. ^ Couretas, John. "Welcome to the Acton Institute PowerBlog." Acton Institute PowerBlog. 4 April 2005. [4]
  34. ^ "About Anthony Bradley". Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
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  41. ^ Gregg, Samuel (2006). The Commercial Society (pbk ed.). Lexington Books. p. 196.  
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Board of Directors, Board of Advisors, Acton Institute
  45. ^ R., Mosey (2009). 2030, the coming tumult: unlimited growth on a finite planet. City: Algora Publishing. pp. 166–167.  
  46. ^


As of 2007, the Institute had received funding from the Earhart Foundation and the Bradley Foundation.[25][45] As of 2005 they had also received $155,000 from ExxonMobil.[46]


Notable members of the institute’s board of directors include Gaylen Byker, Frank Hanna III, and John C Kennedy III.[44]

Besides Sirico, notable scholars associated with the institute include Anthony Bradley,[34] Jordan Ballor,[35] Stephen Grabill,[36] Michael Matheson Miller,[37] Marvin Olasky,[38] Kevin Schmiesing,[39] and Jonathan Witt.[40] The institute's director of research is Samuel Gregg, author of the prize-winning book The Commercial Society.[41] President of the Atlas Network, Alejandro Chafuen serves on the board and is a senior fellow at the institute.[42] Andreas Widmer is a research fellow in entrepreneurship for the research department.[43]

Notable individuals associated with the Acton Institute

Since April 2005 the institute has provided a synthesis of religion and economics on its blog.[33]
  • The Acton PowerBlog:
The bimonthly newsletter of the Acton Institute; contains reports of projects and goings on at the institute.[32]
  • Acton Notes:
Through 2008, the institute gave an annual Samaritan Award to a "highly successful, privately funded charity whose work is direct, personal, and accountable".[30] The Samaritan Guide was produced to encourage effective charitable giving by establishing a rating system for charities considered for the Samaritan Award.[31]
  • The Samaritan Guide:
Quarterly publication which covers the interworking of liberty and morality: contains interviews, book reviews, scholarly essays, brief biographies of central thinkers, and discussions of important topics.[16][25]
  • Religion & Liberty:
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.[27][28] The first volume of the translation, Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art, was unveiled in November, 2011.[29]
  • Abraham Kuyper Translation Project:
In-depth treatments of specific policy issues and translations of scholarly works previously unpublished in English.[22][25][26]
  • Monographs:
Internationally renowned peer-reviewed journal that explores the intersection of economics and morality from scientific and theological points of view. Published semi-annually.[2][23][24][25]
  • Journal of Markets & Morality:

From its guiding principles and economic research, the institute publishes books, papers, and periodicals, and maintains a media outreach effort.[2][22]

Research and publications


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