Bursts of philanthropic support helped create important new centers of religious intellectual dynamism in the 1980s and 1990s. The venerable Jewish magazine Commentary expanded its circulation during the 1980s and became a prominent advocate for liberty abroad. Lutheran and then Catholic pastor Richard Neuhaus became an increasingly influential advocate for traditional religious understandings of social issues, and in 1990 founded the acclaimed ecumenical religious journal First Things. That same year, the Reverend Robert Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute, a new research organ promoting the complementarity of economic freedom and religious practice. Around the same time, Catholic intellectual George Weigel was publishing defenses of democratic capitalism and creating his definitive biography celebrating Pope John Paul II’s role in the collapse of communism. Along with Michael Novak’s work reconciling capitalism and religion (see 1978 entry), these energetic new scholars, groups, and journals—all donor-supported—generated fresh public understanding of the role of spiritual faith in maintaining the health of Western society.
Synthesizing Religion and Democratic Capitalism