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Alinsky for Dummies

Mr. Joseph Morris’s lecture “Alinsky for Dummies: His Persistent Influence and Its Meaning for American Society and Politics” was delivered on May 6 in Grand Rapids. As Lord Acton warned that power corrupts, Saul Alinsky — the father of modern “community organizing” — rejoiced that corruption empowers. “The Alinsky model of social action, by nature, generated conflict,” said Morris. Morris talked about the Alinksy connection with President Barack Obama while Obama was a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

Alinsky took the concept of labor organizing and sought to apply the same notion to the community. The idea is that everybody bands together and confronts the “oppressors,” whoever the organizers have decided are doing the oppressing.

Mr. Morris talked about how the fundamental flaw of Alinsky was that he could never get past the sins of America. “He didn’t share the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan, or agree with John F. Kennedy when he called America ‘The last best hope on earth’.” Alinsky did not believe that America’s Founding principles or leaders had any uniqueness or carried any exceptional qualities. Mr. Morris said Alinsky’s own words called upon America to apologize to the world for all its “sinful actions.“

Mr. Morris also discussed the moral culture by saying that people who share a fundamental belief in God can sustain and build a society that they want. He noted that, currently, there are many that no longer share this view in the United States.

He recommended to those at the lecture that they read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals for themselves. “This book lays out the action plan for the community organizer,” said Morris. Mr. Morris served under President Reagan as assistant attorney general of the United States, in charge of international affairs and director of the Department of Justice Office of Liaison Services. He is a member of the bars of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Supreme Court of Illinois. If you would like to listen to this lecture, please visit

Acton Luncheon in Chicago

On April 29, over 160 friends and guests joined Acton for our annual luncheon in Chicago, hosted this year at the Newberry Library. Rev. Robert A. Sirico delivered the address “Does Social Justice Require Socialism?” in which he discussed the increasing calls for government intervention in financial market regulation, health care, education reform, and economic stimulus in the name of “social justice.” He was joined by special guest, Mr. Joseph A. Morris. Mr. Morris is a partner at Morris & De La Rosa and CEO of the Lincoln Legal Foundation.

Rev. Sirico began by framing the discussion in the nature of the person, and the role of government:

“I don’t think it is necessarily the case historically, intellectually, philosophically, or theologically that what social justice calls for is a form of coercive socialism. I think a lot of this has to do with a certain confusion about the role of government in society, and about the understanding and distinction between social responsibilities and political responsibilities.”

To hear Rev. Sirico further discuss this distinction, and to hear the rest of the lecture, please visit our online media archive at The Acton Institute has many resources available on Social Justice in our online bookstore, including a new Acton monograph Beyond Distributism, a new book titled, Liberating Black Theology, and a DVD curriculum Effective Stewardship, produced by Acton Media and available through Zondervan.

Are Tea Parties Good for America?

Acton on Tap hosted the discussion “Are Tea Parties Good for America?” at Derby Station in Grand Rapids on April 27. Associate Editor Ray Nothstine offered remarks on the lessons tea party groups can learn from the civil rights movement and other movements in American History. Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Nothstine reminded the attendees of the importance of raising the quality of public discourse when it comes to political disagreements, saying, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

Forty five participants attended the event, including officers and members of West Michigan Tea Party organizations. Acton on Tap features a speaker who briefly introduces a theme for the evening and leads group discussion throughout the evening. Stay tuned for future Acton on Tap events as it continues to expand its reach in the community.

Executive Director Honored

Acton’s Executive Director and co-founder Kris Alan Mauren was awarded the 2010 Charles G. Koch Outstanding Institute for Humane Studies Alumnus Award. The award is named in honor of Wichita businessman Charles G. Koch, in recognition of his longtime support and keen interest in cultivating young talent to advance the principles and practice of freedom. Mr. Mauren was awarded a special plaque and a cash award of $5,000. He generously donated the money to the Acton Institute. Mr. Mauren co-founded the Acton Institute with Rev. Robert Sirico in 1990.

Rev. Sirico Speaks at St. Thomas More Academy

Rev. Robert Sirico spoke to an assembly of students about the monumental importance of what the Judeo-Christian heritage has contributed to our culture and society. The lecture took place at St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 26.

He also praised the influence that Western Civilization bestowed upon our legal system, nation, and the world. “It is noteworthy that the institutions that allow us to enjoy the prosperity that we have, has emerged out of Western Civilization, “ said Rev. Sirico. In his address, he articulated the links between our religious heritage and all the positive forces that emerged out of Western Civilization, such as rule of law, ethics, charitable organizations, and modern medicine.

Rev. Sirico also warned students to be vigilant of those who wish to tear down the values and positive forces that emerged from Western Civilization. “We need to fight for human liberty. It recognizes that we are made in the image of God and that we have rights, not by virtue of an action by government or a political process, but by virtue of our nature... man is prior to the state,” said Rev. Sirico. He also told the students that they shouldn’t apologize for the heritage they inherited. He called on students to be informed about the kind of ideas they advance and the ones they oppose.

This address is also available in its entirety on the Acton Website. Saint Thomas More Academy’s mission is to continue the vital tradition of Catholic education by integrating the very best academic curriculum with the deepest spiritual wisdom of Catholic Christianity.

While in Raleigh, Rev. Sirico also lectured on social justice, a lecture similar to his Chicago address. The lecture was sponsered by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute and took place on November 25. Rev. Sirico stressed the importance of a morally formed society. “The system that produces the maximum amount of economic prosperity is the system of free trade, a system rooted in law and that is prefaced on a certain ethical or religious understanding of the human person,” Sirico said.