Skip to main content
Listen to Acton content on the go by downloading the Radio Free Acton podcast! Listen Now

A collection of short essays by Acton writers, click a link to jump to that article: 

AU and building the free society

Jenna Suchyta, Acton Institute Intern

Over 1,000 people flocked to Grand Rapids June 18-21 to listen to more than 80 inspiring faculty members lecture on a wide variety of topics touching on liberty, faith and free-market economics. This was the 13th renewal of Acton University, Acton’s yearly four-day conference exploring the intellectual foundations of a free society. AU is all about “building the foundations of freedom” by bringing together leaders in business, ministry and development, as well as students, professors, entrepreneurs and members of the media.

Alejandro Chafuen, one of Acton’s current managing directors, was at Grove City College in October to accept the Grove City College Alumni Association’s Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award for his substantial work in advancing the cause and research of liberty. As the GēDUNK put it, Chafuen and other GCC alumni seek to “build the political and intellectual infrastructure that [makes] it possible to provide voters and policy makers the means to restore the nation’s compromised principles.”

Building the political and intellectual infrastructure is the same work that Chafuen continues here at the Acton Institute; Acton University is one strong example. For four days, hundreds of people from all around the world gather to learn and commune with others who share their values of faith and liberty. As any retreat leader can attest, much of the fervor and excitement from being on retreat inevitably dies down when normal life returns—some people refer to this as “retreat high” or “a mountain-top experience.” While the excitement is still running high as attendees and faculty return home from our summit at DeVos Place, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the infrastructure that we have built for liberty. Where might cracks still lie in that infrastructure? Who are we reaching and who are we not? Is our message coming through less strongly in some places than others? What can we do to change that?

Alejandro Chafuen, while on the same trip to GCC in October, also addressed current students about the disproportionately vast impact that a small institution such as Grove City has on the wider liberty movement. It’s about the people, Chafuen concluded, the people who, like himself, commit themselves to “contributing to freedom . . . until the day they die.” Acton University 2018 is over, but the work continues.


Westminster Abbey praises God for the NHS

Noah Gould, Acton Institute Emerging Leaders Program

Westminster Abbey held a service in early July commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). At the service, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the “NHS is the most powerful and visible expression of our Christian heritage, because it sprang out of a concern that the poor should be able to be treated as well as the rich.”

Holding a service for the NHS raises two questions: Why does the Anglican Church no longer believe itself to be the “most powerful and visible expression” of the U.K.’s Christian heritage? And should the Anglican Church be holding a service for the NHS at all?

The NHS is a Bernie Sanders- style single-payer healthcare system, which means there is no upfront cost to British citizens for medical care. This system, however, comes with severe drawbacks. Whenever the state offers health care, the state must ration care. This creates a huge problem that has already manifested itself in the U.K.: When the state rations care, innocent people die.

Yet the NHS’s problems are not limited to individual outliers. Compared to the healthcare systems of countries with similar wealth, the NHS does an atrocious job of caring for its citizens. According to economist Kristian Niemietz of the Institute of Economic Affairs, “in international comparisons of health system performance, the NHS almost always ranks in the bottom third, on a par with the Czech Republic and Slovenia.”

In his sermon, Hall quoted Aneurin Bevan, a founder of the NHS, who said, “I’m proud about the NHS. It’s a piece of real socialism; it’s a piece of real Christianity, too.” This quote sheds light on the real issue at stake. The Anglican Church’s love of the NHS does not necessarily spring from a love of the institution itself, which does not provide the best possible quality health care, but from the misconception that the only way for a Christian to care about health care is to have the government provide it. In John 21:17, Jesus tells the Apostle Peter to “feed My sheep.” In this and countless other verses, Jesus taught that it is the role of the church to care for the hurting in the world. The church is the best institution to meld compassion and practical service. Hall and Welby are confusing the charity of the church with the charity of the government and diluting the power of the church by denying its ability to minister in the world.


President Trump nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Joe Carter, Acton Institute

Three facts to know about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

1.) Kavanaugh, age 53, was born in Washington, D.C., and educated at Yale University (B.A.) and Yale Law Law School (J.D.). He previously served in private practice in Washington, D.C., and as principal deputy to the associate attorney general and acting associate attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice. Served as Associate Counsel, then Senior Associate Counsel to the President, and as an Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary to the President before being appointed by George W. Bush as a judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

2.) He is considered a proponent of originalism, a manner of interpreting the Constitution that begins with the text and attempts to give that text the meaning it had when it was adopted, and textualism, a method of statutory interpretation that relies on the plain text of a statute to determine its meaning.

3.) While in private practice in the 1990s, he served as chair of the Federalist Society’s Religious Liberties Practice Group and wrote two pro bono Supreme Court amicus briefs in support of religious liberty.