What is the Acton Institute? Why is it important to look at the Acton Institute? Besides the fact they claim to be a Religious Institute they also call themselves ECUMENICAL Think Tank, translation worldwide Think Tank and when you add in all their associates who have nothing but political agendas, the Acton Institute is nothing more than a Political Think Tank of the GOP and/or Libertarian Party. The Acton Institute was founded in 1990 Robert A. Sirico and Kris Alan Mauren. The ideal of the institute is to combine free market and Biblical views on the environment to challenge scientist’s opinons on Global Warming and other governmental policies. It holds conferences all over the world. It should come as no surprise that an oil and gas company like ExxonMobil is also a donor like Koch Industry to the Anton Institute. While the Koch Brothers don’t sit on the Board of Directors there are some members of the board who belong to Conservative groups such as Mr. Robert Costello of Americans for Limited Government (Founded by Howard Rich); and Mr. J.C. Huizenga of the National Heritage Academies. A blog that discussed Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas was not my plans for this blog, but that is where I would end up. This is a Different event from the one we learned about earlier this year. Included is Clarence Thomas’s speech to the Anton Institute. I have not found a speech for Antonin Scalia yet to be certain that he also spoke at the event, even though it has been mentioned that both spoked at the event. So I am not certain or whether he was just only an attendee and not a speeker even though it has been said he was.
“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.” For more on the Acton Institute, please visit http://www.acton.org.”
In a 2007 article Scientists Slam ExxonMobil’s Global Warming “Disinformation”, by Kate Melville she writes “The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a nonprofit independent scientific organization formed in 1969, has slammed what it calls ExxonMobil’s disinformation tactics in regard to climate change…. The report claims that in the last seven years, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.”
On their Website it says the following:
The Mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.
The Acton Institute is for the Study of Religion and Liberty is named after the great English historian, Lord John Acton (1834-1902). He is best known for his famous remark: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Inspired by his work on the relation between liberty and morality, the Acton Institute seeks to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing. To clarify this relationship, the Institute holds seminars and publishes various books, monographs, periodicals, and articles.
The Acton Institute organizes seminars aimed at educating religious leaders of all denominations, business executives, entrepreneurs, university professors, and academic researchers in economics principles, and in the connection that can exist between virtue and economic thinking. We exhort religious leaders to embrace the principles of economics as analytic tools in the consideration of economic issues that arise in their ministry, on the one hand, and, on the other, we exhort business executives and entrepreneurs, to integrate their faith more fully into their professional lives, to give of themselves more unselfishly in their communities, and to strive after higher standards of ethical conduct in their work. Our conferences are held primarily in the United States, but we also conduct some conferences in Europe and Latin America. More information on these seminars can be obtained at from Acton programs.
The Acton leadership has worked with the highest level of government trying to shape government policy with Religion. From President Ronald Reagan and George Bush 43 while they were in office the Acton Institute has been allowed to shape public policy.
I started this blog post on the Koch brothers and the IHS and ended up looking at of the Supreme Court—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas attending an event of the Action Institute, which supports government interjecting religion into policy and also the group is against scientist claim on global climate. I have included a copy of Justice Thomas speech he made at an event by the Acton Institute at the very bottom; I have yet to locate information on what Scalia had said to the Institute.
So please excuse that this blog is more of a sketch or time line of me gathering information, because I started on one thing and ended somewhere else. Hopefully to be further updated.
Its stand to reason Climate change and interjecting religion into politics are very important and volatile topics in the country for years and we should be wondering about how this effects our court system.
Previously I was looking at the Ideal that the IHS has put out the ideal that they are mainstream and how they and the Koch brothers oppose Climate change, because when you read about the IHS they describes themselves as the following: IHS identifies, develops, and supports students with classical liberal interest who are seeking careers as academics, intellectuals, journalists, etc. Its stated mission is: “To help achieve a freer society by facilitating the development of talented students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty and who demonstrate the potential to help change the climate of opinion to one more congenial to the principles and practice of freedom. In my Research about IHS I was disappointed to see that someone describes the institute as a school that supported the interest of liberals. But that’s the word they use to hook you no doubt. For the IHS to call themselves supporters of classical liberal thinking. I have to really question that this is a mere ruse to trick unaware students about whom they really are with a lie. Maybe while getting such beliefs introduce into public policy, while they are at it maybe the IHS feel they can convert unsuspecting students to change their mind to conservative views on Climate Change. Climate Change is a strong topic for Koch Industries and they are not investing millions and millions of dollars to an institute that goes against their views on climate change. So the ideal that the IHS supports liberal thinking I would question
According to GreenPeace USA Koch foundation donated several millions to the Humane Studies (IHS). GreenPeace USA says between 2005-2009 Koch Foundation donated $4,428,091 and from 1997-2009 Total Koch foundation grants 1997-2009: $6,384,548.
In a recent article, Mother Jones called the Institute for Human Studies a “haven for climate change deniers.” Several climate deniers have prominent positions at IHS, including: Robert Bradley, member of the Academic Review Committee and author of Climate Alarmism Reconsidered (2003); and Fred Singer, Research Professor at IHS. A number of climate deniers are guest lecturers for IHS, such as Bruce Yandle, Senior Associate with Political Economy Research Center; and Kenneth Green, Resident Scholar with American Enterprise Institute.
IHS being described as an institute of climate change deniers I guess it should come as no surprise other Institutes of Shared beliefs celebrated IHS 50th Anniversary in their home state’s. One such group that hosted such a reception was the Acton Institute. There were several other organizations that held celebrations for the IHS, but this is the one I decided to do a little more research into which they are that my blog change from Koch foundation and IHS to a blog Koch, Scalia, Thomas, and the Acton Institute. I found it interest though at the usual annual dinner in Grand Rapids where Past speakers have been business leaders, political commentators and Justices of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas have attended their event. This was an event in 1994 and not the event the Koch held fundraiser mentioned this year by ThinkProgress.
The two have already been asked by Democrats to excuse themselves from cases involving health care and here over a decade ago they are attending an event hosted by an institute who sole goal is to introduce religion into a government rather dispute scientific data with religion. Where the Church Separate from state and the fact is is the people that sit on the board of Acton are Representatives of Conservative Groups and Conservative issues. Besides being funded the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil it stands to reason that we have Justices who act like politicians, getting rid of any honest checking and balance when you come up against court cases that are represented certain political ideologies. Scalia and Thomas have pretty much walked into court supporting conservative efforts 100%
Oh one of the Conservatives sitting on the chair board isn’t a KOCH, belongs to Howard Rich’s Conservative group.
“Noted religious historian Randall Balmer describes the Acton Institute as part of a “powerful coalition to oppose environmental protection” that combines the Dominion Theology of the Religious Right and the wise use ideology of some corporate and business leaders. Dominion Theology is the belief that Christians should take authority or dominion over society and government. Acton has sponsored dominionist conferences including American Vision’s Worldview Super Conference 2010.”http://www.k12newsnetwork.com/2011/04/from-guest-blogger-rachel-tabachnick-talk-to-action-voucher-advocate-betsy-devos-right-wing-think-tanks-behind-koch-style-attack-on-pa-public-schools-section-3/
With everything Republican, the Acton Institute is funded by the Koch Foundation for political use. In 2007 Acton and the Koch Foundation together they produce a film for the Freedom Fest “The Call of the Entrepreneur” The event is describes as an event for political think tanks, educators, legislators, Government officials, etc. attend.
Here is part of an Article by Acton on climate change:
The fraudulent scare based on nonexistent climate refugees has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether the Earth’s atmosphere is warming, what may cause the warming, or what we should do about it. It speaks rather to too many religious groups’ gullibility for theories that line up with their anti-market economics, which undergird their blind faith in environmental doom. This is the “eco-justice” school of thought, which sees the market as “asserting the supremacy of economy over nature.” When people are factored in to this ideology, they are always helpless victims, not creators of economic wealth that has the potential of wide benefits.
Because of these shrill and unfounded warnings of ecological collapse, religious leaders and those who look to them for guidance are increasingly tuning out on the climate change scare. A new survey of Protestant pastors shows that 60 percent disagree with the statement that global warming is real and manmade, up from 48 percent two years ago. These results are in line with an October 2010 Pew Research Center poll which showed that belief in human-caused global warming had declined to 59 percent, down from 79 percent in 2006. Cry wolf often enough and you’ll find yourself alone at the next climate refugee conference.
Religious leaders should celebrate Earth Day 2011 by showing more humility in the face of the exceedingly complex scientific, public policy, and political questions bound up in environmental stewardship. A good start would be to drop any attempt at interpreting deep climatological data, which like complex policy or economic questions, is outside the usual competency of seminary training. Instead, religious leaders should focus on advancing an understanding of environmental stewardship that has a place both for productive economic activity and the beauty of God’s creation — without the Manichean split.http://www.acton.org/es/pub/commentary/2011/04/20/humility-prudence-earth-day
Here is Justice Clarence Thomas Speech at a 1994 Acton Event. I include his speach basically he was there.
Fundamentall though there is something dangerous about people who use relgion not to improve one’s own life but that to further the agenda of ones own Political Party.
Furthermore besides climate change, the Acton instute has tryed to influence school choice for vouchers for private schools and support for tax-breaks on the rich just to a few.
This group is not your regular Church Service the Anton Institute, they are straigh-up involved in politcs and nothing more.
All these issues the Acton Institute have playing a role in have been debated among are court systens and politicians for years and we don’t need Republicans who can overlook facts or data to influence the laws for all.
Acton Home » PUBLICATIONS » Religion & Liberty » Volume 6, Number 1
The Necessity of Moral Absolutes in a Free SocietyTweet
by Clarence Thomas
Editor’s Note: The following remarks were delivered by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the Acton Institute’s Fourth Anniversary Dinner at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 5, 1994.
I am truly honored to be with each of you this evening. And, the honor is magnified because I can be here with my wife and best friend. I thank Father Sirico for his patience and persistence. He was kind enough to invite me during my first term on the Court and he certainly made sure that his invitation was not overlooked or forgotten. I have enjoyed both our correspondence and the opportunities we have had to talk. From my vantage point, our exchanges have been enlightening, inspirational, and encouraging.
I am now approaching the end of my third term of the Court. Though the first term was difficult, the subsequent challenges have all been positive and work related. My brief tenure has been most rewarding and peaceful. I am profoundly grateful to have been blessed with an opportunity to be of service to my fellow citizens as a member of the Court. Though I was convinced at different points in my life that first my vocation, then ambitions, were elsewhere, I have come to know that I am where I belong.
Father Sirico had on any number of occasions asked me what topics I proposed to speak on. Unfortunately, I did not know what I would talk about, since I do not have a stump speech and time simply did not permit me to put pencil to paper until this date drew near. One lesson that I have learned at the Court is that the work of the Court is voracious in its consumption of time and energies. I had no idea that it would be so demanding. Between now and the end of the term, the pace will reach somewhat of a frenzy as we work to complete the Court’s business. But, I have found it useful and rewarding to pilfer what time I can to get away from the confines of the work and the Court to be with some of the wonderful people who have been so kind to invite me.
I would like to say just a few more words about the Court from my perspective. Prior to going on the Court, I had not given it much thought as a working institution. Of course, like all of you, I had thought about some of the decisions that affected my life and our country. However, I was not what one could call a Court watcher or a student of the Court. I had visited a few times, but I had never attended an oral argument. And what I had read suggested that there were different and apparently warring camps among the Justices. And, judging from the tone of some of the opinions, there seemed to be some tension. Nothing I had read or heard prior to actually joining the Court suggested otherwise. But all of this is so far from the truth. I have never had the occasion to be a part of an institution that is so civil, so respectful, and dedicated to doing its best as does the Court. I do not say this lightly; nor do I say it for ulterior motives, no matter how obsequious it sounds. The work is hard, the cases are most difficult, and the pace can border on the impossible; but my colleagues and those who work at the Court make it all enjoyable. I am honored to know that I will spend virtually all, if not all, of the rest of my life there.
Often when I sit down to prepare a talk, I catch myself thinking that I can’t say this or that–not so much because it would conflict with my duties as a member of the Court but because it may not be the kind of thing that will be understood or the kind of thing that is said these days. That is not to say that there are not significant limitations. Believe me, there are. But even though there is much that I cannot appropriately discuss, I consider this added reluctance to be spineless. It seems to me that I had far more courage at the age of sixteen, when I would patiently defy conventional attitudes in a still de facto segregated environment by waiting patiently to be delivered my books in a legally desegregated library by a reluctant librarian or when I would be followed or watched intently as I browsed in the unfamiliar wonderland of a bookstore.
Why is it that many, if not all, of us think twice before we say what we really think or believe. Have we been silenced by the popular hecklers? Are we afraid? Is there a cultural inquisitor who stalks us all? Then, why is it that so many of us who know better about so much that we see around us cower and speak in hushed, mousy voices?
Almost a decade ago I heard a minister say that we were money-poor and values-rich in our youth. That is certainly true of my youth, though I did not know that we were money-poor until I was told so during my college years. Indeed, as long as we had food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs, we were money-rich. In all those years, I never heard a single complaint about what we didn’t have. Sure, we were told as kids that we couldn’t have this or that toy, because there was no money for it. But, this was not offered as a complaint, but rather as a realistic assessment of our financial position as a family. Not getting what we wanted when we wanted it (or at all) didn’t mean that we were money-poor.
Much of what I hear about the environment in which I grew up is cast in the civil rights context. I can understand this since, without that monumental effort, life would have been considerably different for all of us–and not for the better. I continue to admire the courage and conviction of those who were willing to stand against an obvious moral wrong. Just as in the abolitionist movement , the immediate solution may have been civil in nature, but the momentum of the movement had morality as its source. And, bigotry and racism, in all their forms, are immoral. But with that said, life in those years is depleted of so much of its meaning when, as is customary today, it is reduced so facilely to just civil rights.
Last May, I returned to my hometown for the first time since becoming a member of the Court. It was a most satisfying visit. Of course, I had a chance to visit with family, friends, and so many well wishers. It was wonderful. At St. Paul C.M.E. Church I was called upon to say a few words. I think a “few words” is different from a speech. I asked the mostly Black congregation a few questions. Now that we technically had civil rights, were their daily lives better? Could they now live their lives in peace; send their children to school with no fears; leave their doors open to catch an evening breeze? The answers, judging from the many nodding heads, were all a resounding “no”. Certainly, they did not think that obtaining their civil rights was a waste of time. That would be ridiculous. No, they were simply asserting that something crucial was missing. What was it? What got thrown out or lost?
Today, it seems that those among us who are skilled at rejecting our culture or criticizing the status quo are exalted over those who just do the best they can with what they have. That is not to say that those who challenge wrongs in our society should not be recognized or credited for doing so; but it is ironic that those who go on constructively in spite of obstacles are ignored or criticized.
I have often wondered about those good people who are the heart and soul of any community, and indeed our country. They have somehow accepted the notion that although our society affords them the freedom to go about their affairs without interference they must find some way to order their lives and live in harmony with others. Certainly, they cannot be completely autonomous and unaccepting of all rules.
With chaos swirling about and with little or no education, I often wondered how it was that there seemed to be a common understanding of right and wrong–of good and bad. At least during the years of my youth, there was no debate that I can think of about the absolutes. Some things were just wrong and generally accepted to be wrong. It was hard enough to do good and avoid doing wrong without engaging in an endless debate about what constituted either.
I can still remember the frustration on my grandfather’s face when I returned home from college, and constantly questioned whether there was anything such as right and wrong. Armed with a little knowledge of moral relativism and a desire to challenge what I thought to be overly restrictive rules that burdened my exercise of freedom without guilt, I argued pointlessly with him. He seemed totally unmoved and undaunted by my citations of philosophers and professors; he knew that one’s primary focus could not be on doing one’s own thing. There had to be something within each of us to order our lives and society. Merely perceiving society as the enemy was inadequate. And merely rejecting the absolutes because they got in my way was not a substitute for principle. Indeed, my whole approach depended on the existence of a dominant culture or way of thinking. He knew far better than me that this would get me nowhere, and confidently, if angrily, ignored me.
Because those in our neighborhood conducted themselves in much the same way, under the same set of rules, all of us were free to come and go in safety. Though our freedoms were impeded by Jim Crow laws and segregation, they were not additionally impeded by disorder. Indeed, it appeared that the obstacles from without demanded that there be order within–at least we had our neighborhood. Somehow it was understood that disorder was the enemy of freedom–everyone could not conduct himself or herself under ad hoc rules and expect to get anything done.
One simple example. It was simply not disputed that one did not engage in disruptive behavior–especially around another person’s house. In turn, they did not disrupt us, and we all were free to rest undisturbed. Similarly, you did not get into another’s house uninvited. Consequently, we could all leave our doors and windows open without fear on those hot summer evenings. Perhaps this does not rise to the level of right and wrong, but it makes the case even more clearly because the sense of right and wrong seeped to the less important level of propriety.
As we gained our freedoms, the emphasis seemed to be on just how do we use that freedom. Some things were right and others wrong. Even if the individual situations presented gray areas, the rules for judging them are black and white. A job worth doing was worth doing right. There was a right way to polish your shoes, a right way to say good morning to our elders, a right way to walk down the street. Always walk like you are going someplace; don’t wander aimlessly or you will wind up on the chain gang or, even worse, my grandfather might catch you.
There were also clear notions of good and bad. Stealing and dishonesty were clearly bad, no matter what the reason. Idleness was the devil’s workshop. I always wondered exactly what it was that the devil built in that workshop. I have now ceased to wonder. The guidelines were countless, but clear. They made life predictable and orderly. Within them, we were safe, free, and happy. I know that sounds odd, since the outside walls of segregation and bigotry persisted. Yet, it is true. We lived together in my community in peace, even as other problems persisted.
Ironically today, that same neighborhood, some 40 years since I first visited it, is not so peaceful. The tradition of segregation is gone. But so is the security of that wonderful little world. On one visit some years ago, while trying to go to sleep one night, we could hear gunshots and drug dealers plying their trade. The pleasant sound of kids running up and down the street was not to be heard. The corner that we frequented for snow cones, ice cream and an assortment of candies and gum seems moribund, and I believe, is occupied by a solitary liquor store. By no means do I think that my little neighborhood is the only place where this has happened. I am certain that there are many in my age group who look back nostalgically on their old communities and see much the same thing.
There was so much that was wrong; but so very much that was good and right. We hear so often about the former, but what happened to the later? What was there that has been changed or eliminated? We know today that something is very, very wrong.
I do not presume to have all the answers. God knows I have enough difficulty deciding the discrete matters that come before the Court to be sufficiently humbled when confronting more broad-based ones.
I am sure that most of us have looked back on the so-called “good old days”. My grandfather used to talk about his “good old days” and I would simply brace myself for a lecture about how terrible rock and roll and rhythm and blues were. He would actually go so far as to take the fuse out of the car so we couldn’t play that awful radio and run his battery down. Of course, I grew tired of hearing these lectures about the good old days. And, I am sure that there are many who would react to me in much the same way as I reacted to my grandfather. But, I have come to realize in so many ways that he was right; I was wrong. Perhaps some few will say in the distant future that I was right. Perhaps not.
So much of life seemed aimed toward building the conscience that is so necessary in a free society. As I noted earlier, freedom did not mean that one could do exactly what one wanted. There had to be an understanding of right and wrong; of good and bad; of obligations; of responsibilities. These, among others were to provide the inner compass to navigate the vast oceans of a free society.
But where did these unlettered people get there knowledge of our needs? How did they know from the moment we set foot in their house that we were to attend parochial schools; be altar boys. For the most part, I believe it was because they already had compasses; they had faith. And, as unpopular as it is to say this today, they indeed walked by faith, not by sight. They were sightless because of lack of education; sightless because of a denial of rights. But, they had faith and they had conscience. And they knew, with unshakable confidence, that we needed both to survive in a free country–even as so many freedoms were being denied us.
You know, I have listened to those who, armed with degrees, honorary and earned, have pooh-poohed those two unlettered people. But what is their alternative to conscience? What is their workable substitute for faith? How do they propose that we all learn how to use freedom properly?
I have found it odd over the years that we are ridiculed for trying to learn how to do good, trying to learn how to use freedom in a way that gives it positive content. I would have thought as I was growing up that this was to be praised. Rather, it is ridiculed in much the same way that we were teased as kids for dressing in uniforms and being required to go to church on Sundays. It was said then that the strictures of religion interfered with fun. I guess some things just don’t change.
I wonder how the critics would have gotten us through those years. What would we have done instead of being altar boys? How would we have learned the discipline of studying and working when there seemed to be no apparent reason to do so? How would we have learned to try to be good if it had not been reinforced by our beliefs? How would they have assured us of our inherent equality when all around seemed to deny it? How would they have kept us from getting killed or going to jail? How would they have kept us from being destroyed by anger, hatred, and animosity? How would we have learned personal responsibility without an overwhelming sense of ultimate responsibility for the whole of our lives? For those of us who were raised Catholic, there was nothing so frightening as going to confession on Saturdays to ask God’s forgiveness for what we had done–not what the devil made us do. We had free will and could choose between good and bad–right and wrong. And when we chose to sin, we had to confront our Maker, having once again fallen out of grace.
But there was so much more than merely not doing wrong. It became so very clear that we were to use our God given talents fully. They were not to be buried. I can remember in the eighth grade after we had taken the entrance examination for high school and I had done quite well compared to the other students, Sister Mary Virgilius expressed nothing but displeasure at me. I had more ability than that according to her. My feeling was that I had done well enough. But in my heart I knew she was right; I had buried much of my abilities under laziness and excuses.
At home I saw people who with so little demanded of themselves that they maximize the use of the little they had without complaint. With this attitude, there always seemed to be enough. Perhaps this is called frugality, but it is also using fully all the talents that were given them.
I know just saying what I have said is not popular anymore. I know just saying it opens me up to criticism. It is not sufficiently sophisticated; it’s impractical; and you can’t bring back that approach. Well, I don’t know all that. What I do know is that when I put my homemade compass down to explore some of those other experiments, they did not work. They merely substituted aimless autonomy of the individual for true freedom.
In one of the essays in her new book, On Looking into the Abyss, Gertrude Himmelfarb reaches much the same conclusion as those around me had reached, though most of them were unlettered.
“Liberals have always known that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. [We] are now discovering that absolute liberty also tends to corrupt absolutely. A liberty that is divorced from tradition and convention, from morality and religion, that makes the individual the sole repository and arbiter of all values and puts him in an adversarial relationship to society and the state–such a liberty is a grave peril to liberalism itself.”
And as Tocqueville put it:
“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion…is more needed in democratic republics than in any other. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity.”
I, like many of my generation, flirted with those who were not content to decide between right and wrong, but rather decide right and wrong. But, in the end, there is no doubt in my mind who had the better approach to the use of freedom. The people who raised me did.
Thank you all, and may God bless each and every one of you.