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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 3, 2003 - From a field of more than 60 international entries, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty has selected the finalists for the 2003 Lord Acton Essay competition. The program encourages participants to reflect on the integration of religious principles with morality and economic thinking, in support of a free and virtuous society.

* First Place : Richard Edwin Ekins, BA of Civil Law with concentration in political and legal theory at Balliol College, University of Oxford, titled his essay, “Secular Fundamentalism and Democracy.” $2,000 award.

* Second Place : Foster Freed, an MDiv & Diploma in Christian Spirituality student at Vancouver School of Theology, for his “Lament for a Palm Sunday Church: Reflections on the Political Captivity of the Churches.” $1,000 award.

* Third Place : Matt Tapie, an MA student at the Institute of Church State Studies at Baylor University, whose essay is titled, “The ‘Revenge of God’ and the ‘Third Wave’ of Democratization: An Essay on the Compatibility of Religion and Democracy.” $500 award.

* Honorable Mentions : Jordan J. Ballor, ThM student at Calvin Theological Seminary, for his essay, “Melanchthon and the Civil Magistrate, 1521-1543,” and James Maldonado Berry, an MA student at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., for his essay, “Pope John Paul II’s Contribution to Christian Social Teaching.”

Judges for the competition were Mr. Chuck Colson, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, and Father Eugene Morris.

The contest is open to all individuals with an interest in religion, liberty, and their contribution towards a society of free and responsible persons, regardless of religious denomination or affiliation. The winning essays of the winners, including those of the two honorable mentions, are available on the Acton Institute’s

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