Religion & Liberty Online

Goodbye to the Acton Institute

As a member of the clergy with multiple secular jobs, things are always hectic. I’ve decided I must step away from my work with the Acton Institute beginning the first week of May and, I’m sad to say, this marks my final new blog for the Acton Institute. (A few more entries will appear next week, as will some articles for the Spring 2021 issue of Religion & Liberty analyzing the first days of the Biden-Harris administration but – spoiler alert – these were written in advance.) I’m grateful for the tremendous opportunity of serving as the Executive Editor of the Acton Institute over the last five-and-a-half years.

In a sense, this fulfilled a very young man’s dream. I remember the joy I felt when I first read about the founding of the Acton Institute in 1990. (The exact moment is now lost in the mists of a precocious teenager’s memory; I think I read about it in National Review, or possibly heard about it from the late Dr. D. James Kennedy.) My father, an accountant, explained elementary economic truths to me at a young age, so I grew up seeing the laws of economics prevail over bankrupt if well-meaning theories time and again. As a teen, I had a subscription to FEE‘s journal, The Freeman, graciously offered at the only price I could realistically afford to pay. When I learned that a new institute intended to connect the truths of economics to my newly rekindled faith, I marked it as an organization to watch. (Thanks to the indefatigable Zelig of the free-market movement, Alejandro Chafuen, for suggesting its formation.)

I reconnected with Acton as Managing Editor of another publication, where I commissioned an article from Fr. Robert Sirico on liberation theology. (That website no longer hosts the article, but you can read a copy here.) In 2010, I drove across Michigan to see Jordan Ballor give a dazzlingly insightful presentation at an “Acton on Tap” event at a Grand Rapids bar. Two years later, I was invited to attend Acton University. The rest, as they say, is history – and so, too, now, is this chapter of my professional life.

I’m proud of the contributions we made to help people of all faith backgrounds reject futile designs of earthly Utopia that have proved corrosive to belief in the inevitable and verifiable truth of God’s heavenly kingdom. I was humbled beyond words to learn that attendees made my presentation exposing the views and beliefs of the world’s bona fide white nationalist movement (“The Alt-Right: A Christian Perspective”) one of Acton University’s top-rated classes every year it was offered.

Our efforts added some small momentum toward preserving the U.S. Constitution’s system of limited government within a culture of Judeo-Christian values, which alone can sustain it. I pray this work of the last five years will not prove futile. Free-market advocates need to know that it can only endure in a framework of strong virtue, and believers need to know how economics works. I hope they will share my firm belief that, as St. Augustine said, all truth is God’s truth. Would-be reformers cannot improve society – and Christians cannot accurately live their faith – unless they abide by the strict and uncompromising terms of reality.

That predisposition will serve me well in my new role as the first Media Reporter at I’m overjoyed at the opportunity and thankful I’m able to roll my part-time secular undertakings into one full-time job. In the meantime, your prayers are coveted that the transition will go smoothly and that the move will allow me to serve my ministry with greater focus.

Far beyond asking you for anything more, I want to thank you, our readers, for all you’ve given me. Thank you for the privilege of my sharing my thoughts and inspirations with you for all these years … and for sharing yours with me. The feedback you’ve offered by reading, reacting to, sharing, or commenting on my articles – and occasionally emailing me – represent moments of cherished encouragement. I’m especially glad to have met so many of you at Acton events. Let’s stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter (@therightswriter), or Parler (@revbenjohnson). You can also contact me here. And I hope you will.

Thank you for your kind attention (or, perhaps more appropriately, long-suffering) in reading my articles. God bless you all, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and served as Executive Editor of the Acton Institute (2016-2021), editing Religion & Liberty, the Powerblog, and its transatlantic website. He has extensively researched the Alt-Right. Previously, he worked for LifeSiteNews and, where he wrote three books including Party of Defeat (with David Horowitz, 2008). His work has appeared at, National Review, The American Spectator, The Guardian, Daily Caller, National Catholic Register, Spectator USA, FEE Online, RealClear Policy, The Blaze, The Stream, American Greatness, Aleteia, Providence Magazine, Charisma, Jewish World Review, Human Events, Intellectual Takeout,, Issues & Insights, The Conservative,, and The American Orthodox Institute. His personal websites are and His views are his own.