The Mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.
The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is named after the great English historian, Lord John Acton (1834-1902). He is best known for his famous remark: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Inspired by his work on the relation between liberty and morality, the Acton Institute seeks to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing.
The Acton Institute organizes seminars aimed at educating religious leaders of all denominations, business executives, entrepreneurs, university professors, and academic researchers in economics principles, and in the connection that can exist between virtue and economic thinking. They exhort religious leaders to embrace the principles of economics as analytic tools in the consideration of economic issues that arise in their ministry, on the one hand, and, on the other, they exhort business executives and entrepreneurs, to integrate their faith more fully into their professional lives, to give of themselves more unselfishly in their communities, and to strive after higher standards of ethical conduct in their work. Their conferences are held primarily in the United States, but we also conduct some conferences in Europe and Latin America.
The Acton Institute’s publications range widely from those directed at the general public to those that are rigorous academic essays. We publish monthly current affairs and public policy opinions both in hard print and on-line. We also print a journal called Religion & Liberty that engages the intellectual reader on issues in the areas of religion, politics, economics, literature, and culture. They also publish the Journal of Markets & Morality, which is a refereed academic journal dedicated to examining ideas in the unique interdisciplinary niche that brings together economics, theology, and philosophy. In addition, they publish monographs on economic issues that have direct impact on Christian theology as part of a collection called the Christian Social Thought Series. As part of the Acton Institute’s information outreach program, they also publish transcripts and tapes of prominent guest speakers we have invited to our special events, and of TV and radio discussions in which we have participated.
The Acton Institute’s academic investigations are conducted by Acton Research. The work produced at Acton Research includes the disciplines of philosophy, economics, theology, and history, among others, and it includes the contributions of both in-house research fellows and of invited scholars. The principal goal of Acton Research’s investigations is to seek truth by means of the examination and clarification of ideas. The investigations produced at the Acton Institute are delivered widely at conferences with the goal of reaching the academy at large. The papers and monographs produced by Acton Research fellows take final form as books published by mainstream academic publishers and as articles accepted in refereed academic journals.
Founded in April, 1990, the Acton Institute is named in honor of John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (1834-1902), 1st Baron Acton of Aldenham and the historian of freedom. Known as “the magistrate of history,” Lord Acton was one of the great personalities of the nineteenth century. Widely considered one of the most learned Englishmen of his time, Lord Acton made the history of liberty his life’s work. Indeed, his most notable conclusion of this work is that political liberty is the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty. He thereby points to the union of faith and liberty, which has been the inspiration for the mission of the Acton Institute.
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