It was a sunny day in Chandler, Arizona, when a team from Acton visited Seton Catholic Preparatory High School. As the bell rang, students filled the courtyard, joining their friends for lunch. But several students had other plans, heading off to Cecilia Sanders’ math classroom. Each Monday, they join her for an extracurricular “lunch and learn.” Along with her colleague Tom Darby, Sanders has been hosting the Faith and Freedom Club.
The idea came out of Sanders’ and Darby’s experiences at Acton University. As recipients of an Acton University fellowship geared toward high school educators, they were encouraged to think about how they could take Acton ideas back to their workplace. Creating a club provided the right framework for them to engage students, showing how Christian beliefs inform a proper understanding of economics, liberty, and the role of government.
“Our students learn many principles in their individual classes, but they aren’t always synthesized together well,” Sanders told us. “Acton’s resources help bridge that gap. Students are often surprised that what they learned in their theology class is vitally related to what they learned in their economics class.”
During Acton’s visit, students showed up eager to watch the next episode of “The Good Society,” Acton’s latest media project. “The Good Society” is a series of free, short films exploring the economic, moral, political, social and theological foundations of a flourishing society. As the students gathered, Sanders dimmed the lights and began screening the short film. Through a mix of animation and live action, the episode she chose laid the groundwork for viewing economics as a person-centered endeavor.
Sanders kicked off the discussion using “The Good Society” study guide. Shy at first, the students began to warm up, talking to both Sanders and one another about the social nature of economics and a Christian vision of freedom.
“When you say economics has to be based around the human person, that’s interesting,” said one girl. “It reminds me of the episode where Father Sirico compared the free market to economic systems that don’t respect human dignity. It shows why we’re better off to have a society that puts the rights of an individual first, instead of a system like fascism.”
Another student chimed in, “Free markets wire people to cooperate. It makes so much more sense than socialism.”
For Sanders, these insights are precious. “Many of our students are bombarded with the message that business and free markets are bad. When they have that ‘aha’ moment watching a video or in classroom discussion, it makes me proud not only as a teacher but also as a citizen who wants to see a free future for America.”
To hear more of Cecilia’s story, watch the video at https://offers.acton.org/ceciliasanders.
To make a gift to support the work of Acton, visit acton.org/donate.