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The Acton Institute Headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Photo by Rudy Malmquist

Who We Are

The Acton Institute is a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.

This direction recognizes the benefits of a limited government, but also the beneficent consequences of a free market. It embraces an objective framework of moral values, but also recognizes and appreciates the subjective nature of economic value. It views justice as a duty of all to give the one his due but, more importantly, as an individual obligation to serve the common good and not just his own needs and wants. In order to promote a more profound understanding of the coming together of faith and liberty, Acton involves members of religious, business, and academic spheres in its various seminars, publications, and academic activities. It is our hope that by demonstrating the compatibility of faith, liberty, and free economic activity, religious leaders and entrepreneurs can contribute by helping to shape a society that is secure, free, and virtuous.

Our History

Father Robert Sirico and Kris Alan Mauren with former President Ronald Reagan.
The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty was founded in 1990 in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Father Robert A. Sirico and Kris Alan Mauren.

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.

The most notable conclusion of Acton’s 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. Father Sirico sums up the Institute’s purpose: “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’".

Awards & Rankings

The Acton Institute consistently ranks among the top think tanks in the world.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) maintains comprehensive data on more than 6,500 think tanks worldwide. Of those more than half are considered in the ranking, but fewer than 300 organizations make it into the final report. In recent years, the Acton Institute has consistently placed among the top think tanks worldwide.

The 2015 University of Pennsylvania report ranked Acton as such:

  • 9th of 90 in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks ranking (9th in 2014).
  • 29th of 75 in the Top Think Tanks in the United States (29th in 2014).
  • 155th of 175 in Top Think Tanks Worldwide (previously unranked).
  • 10th in Best Advocacy Campaign (11th in 2014) for PovertyCure.
  • 17th (out of 61) in Best Think Tank Conference (17th in 2014) for Acton University.

Funding

The Acton Institute is a 501c3 tax exempt organization. Over 80% of our funding comes from the generous contributions of individual Acton supporters.

Over 80% of our funding comes through tax-deductible contributions of individual Acton supporters. We also receive support from foundations, corporations, and from the sale of our many materials – books, publications and learning curricula.