The Acton Institute, Fr Robert Sirico’s free market ideological outfit, gave their “Faith and Freedom” award to Margaret Thatcher in 2011. Here is what their website says about it (emphases added):
Past Award Recipients:
Lady Margaret Thatcher – 2011
Acton recognized Lady Thatcher for her courageous leadership in the cause of liberty, her achievements as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, her role in inspiring moral and economic renewal in Britain and the West, her contribution to ending Communist totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, and her commitment to Christian belief and values.The eleven years of Lady Thatcher’s prime ministership were a struggle against the forces of discord, doubt, and despair that threatened the establishment of a freer, more prosperous, and self-confident society in Britain. Whether it was confronting military dictators in Latin America or the radical left in Britain, Lady Thatcher illustrated that conviction politics can prevail over the policies of easy compromise and acquiescence.
The economic reforms pursued by successive Conservative governments led by Lady Thatcher turned Britain from being the sick man of Europe into a country with faith in the free economy’s ability to create value and produce wealth. Her willingness to confront out-of-control trade union power did much to breathe new life into the idea of rule of law. Likewise, her unwillingness to accept that half of Europe should be abandoned to the rule of faceless Marxist-Leninist regimes inspired millions to work for a peaceful end to Communist dictatorships.But in the long-term, Margaret Thatcher’s greatest legacy may be her insistence that the free society must be grounded upon a culture of moral absolutes. In her 1988 address to representatives of the Church of Scotland, Lady Thatcher stressed that freedom can only be grounded on and guaranteed by our commitment to the moral absolutes that are at the core of authentic Christian faith. “If you try,” she said, “to take the fruits of Christianity without its roots, the fruits will wither. And they will not come again unless you nurture the roots.” Freedom, she believed, is intrinsically linked to truth, and without a commitment to truth, liberty is endangered.
This is curious praise for a woman who was consistently proabortion throughout her career and who favored the death penalty.
And it is curious praise for a ruler who oversaw greater income disparity, poverty, unemployment, and decline of labor unions.
It is pretty clear that the Acton Institute’s views on
“faith” and “freedom” are highly colored by their free market fundamentalism.
Lady Thatcher has been called “Britain’s Reagan”, and that is apt: like Reagan, she initiated a 30 year assault on the working class, and a 30 year concentration of wealth in the ruling 1%.