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March 9, 2001, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan — The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty will host two lectures on compassionate conservatism this spring—April 2 in Grand Rapids and April 4 in Detroit—featuring, respectively, Bush advisor and Acton senior fellow Marvin Olasky and Acton president Rev. Robert A. Sirico. Each has been speaking and writing on private charity's effectiveness over governmental programs for over a decade, and each played an instrumental role in the historic work on welfare reform of 1996.

The recent establishment of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives marks an important recognition of the effectiveness of private charity. Since then, debate has raged over the role of religion and faith-based programs in welfare reform. At the heart of the discussion is the controversial concept of compassionate conservatism. What is compassionate conservatism? What is its vision for helping the poor? How do conservative principles translate into compassionate practice? Is direct governmental funding of faith-based charities the best way to proceed? Or does such funding threaten the separation of church and state?

Dr. Marvin Olasky, the chief architect of compassionate conservatism and a key advisor to President Bush, will weigh the benefits and dangers of governmental funding of religious charities when he gives his address titled, "The Angel in the Details: Compassionate Conservatism’s Opportunities and Perils." The lecture will be held at the Ladies Literary Club on Monday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico believes that the future of charity in America rests with private, religiously motivated activism. Fr. Sirico will explore the central issues underlying current debates over welfare reform in an address titled, "Effective Compassion and Civic Renewal: The Next Phase of Welfare Reform." This lecture will take place at a luncheon on Wednesday, April 4, at 12:00 p.m. at the Detroit Athletic Club in Detroit, Michigan.

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