Baylor Student’s Essay on Capitalism from a Theological Perspective Takes First Place in Competition

September 17, 2015
Rachael Lanier

Rachael Lanier courtesy photo.

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 17, 2015) – Rachael Lanier, a junior economics major in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, placed first in an essay competition sponsored by the Values & Capitalism Project of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) in Washington, D.C.

“Honestly, I was pretty surprised when I learned I had won but also very, very happy,” Lanier said. “I wasn’t even sure I would place; so finding out I had won the top prize was fantastic!”

The Values & Capitalism Awards program selects undergraduate students from Christian colleges and universities who submit the best essays offering moral defenses of the free enterprise system. Lanier’s essay, “The Morality of Self-Interest: A Thomistic Approach,” discusses the theological affirmations of self-interest and its place within religion and the free market.

“The essay is meant to be a moral defense of capitalism, which I argue for using passages from Saint Thomas Aquinas’ ‘Summa Theologica,’” Lanier said. “With Saint Thomas to back me up, I make the case that the self-interest behind the free market system is not only different from selfishness but is also a natural and good human trait.”

Along with a $5,000 scholarship for tuition, Lanier received an invitation to the AEI’s 2016 Annual Dinner, a full complement of AEI publications and the opportunity to be featured in an online AEI publication.

Lanier, a Texas native, hopes the award will help her achieve her future aspirations.

“I intend to work in the public policy arena and would hopefully like to do some writing on policy issues for online publications,” Lanier said. “Before that, of course, I plan on getting my master’s degree in either economics or public policy.”

AEI is a private, nonpartisan and nonprofit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare. Values & Capitalism is an initiative at AEI that seeks to advance a moral case for free enterprise on campus, with a goal of reaching a significant number of Christian college students and engaging them in a discussion about the compatibility of their faith and free enterprise.

“Values & Capitalism is affiliated with the AEI, a D.C.-based think tank, exactly the sort of place where I hope to work someday,” Lanier said. “Winning this essay contest gets my foot in the ‘think tank’ door, in a manner of speaking. Not to mention it’s an opportunity to showcase my writing, which provides a great starting point for the writing-based career I’d like to have.”

by Ashton Brown, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 24 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit