Seminary Fosters Corporate Mistrust

By Witham, Larry | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2001 | Go to article overview

Seminary Fosters Corporate Mistrust


Witham, Larry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Larry Witham

The nation's theology students are being taught to distrust corporations and market economics, a new study shows.

Officials at nine in 10 Christian seminaries said that corporations will abuse power if not regulated, and six in 10 say only government redistribution of wealth brings social justice, according to a sample of theological schools.

"Religious leaders are given a lot of credence when they speak on political and economic policy, but that is where they are least qualified," said Kevin Schmiesing, a historian with the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich., which conducted the survey. The institute researches the relationship between religion and a free-market system.

Clergy have had little opportunity to study economics in relation to their faith, said Mr. Schmiesing, who conducted the study with political scientist John Green.

"We found very little in seminary courses on economic theory or principles," Mr. Schmiesing said.

Six in 10 schools said they emphasize moral principles, which are most often gleaned from Bible texts rather than theological or policy writings, the study found. Forty percent of the schools taught both moral and economic principles.

Bible stories are moral guides, Mr. Schmiesing said, but must be interpreted for a complex market economy.

The Rev. William J. Byron, an economist and former president of Catholic University of America, was not surprised by the study's outcome.

"There is very little seminary training even in how to manage a parish," said Father Byron, who has offered a seminary course on "the economic dimension of society. …

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