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Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 24, 2001

The Acton Institute today announced the winners of the tenth annual Lord Acton Essay Competition. John Carpenter, a doctoral student in church history at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, took top honors and the cash prize of $2,000. Mr. Carpenter’s essay, "How Firm a Foundation: Puritanism as the Wellspring of American Freedom," focuses on the centrality of religion in the development of freedom in the United States.

The Acton Institute’s primary mission is enriching religious leaders’ understanding of the free market system. The essay competition is one of the Acton Institute’s longest-standing and most successful student outreach programs.
Students are asked to prepare an essay based on a quotation from Lord Acton, the Institute’s namesake, famous for his aphorism "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The tenth essay contest drew participants from six countries and nearly forty colleges, seminaries, and universities. Second prize, along with $1,000, was awarded to Kevin DeYoung, a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, for his essay, "The Freedom of Religion." Third place and $500 were awarded to R. J. Snell, a doctoral student in philosophy at Marquette University, for his essay titled, "Faith’s Children: The Necessity of Religion for a Free and Rational Society."

Receiving honorable mentions were Eric Patterson of the University of California at Santa Barbara for "Moral Obligation and the Free Society" and Joel Hathaway of Covenant Theological Seminary for "On Duty, Religion, and Liberty."

The Acton Institute will publish the winning essays in a book for distribution in late Spring 2001. For more information, please visit the Institute’s web site at .

About the Acton Institute

With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at