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Why do some governments allow religious liberty while others deny it?
The conversation concludes with a discussion of how property rights interact with religious freedom.
They say, oh, yes, this is what I have to do on a daily basis; I have to figure out whether we are going to use our resources for our youth group or for our missions abroad. There are collective action problems, there are principal-agent problems they deal with.
And so the actual practitioners of religion are very open to this kind of analysis. We had, a long time ago, Larry Iannaccone, an economist--one of the few--who does study religion.
I don't know whether God exists or not, but I'm going to believe, and I'm going to believe this theological story.
I can't sit down and necessarily reason it.' I know some theologians have done this--Thomas Aquinas and Blaise Pascal have done that, for instance.
And one of his themes is that competition is good for the customer.
It's good for religious followers, just as it is in other areas of economic activity. And what evidence do we have that allowing religious freedom is 'good for' religious adherents?
Now, that said, the actual act of believing in God or believing a certain theological doctrine is different than what we have in regular social life, that people do believe these things and then they come together in organizational forms and take actions.
Anthony Gill of the University of Washington and host of the podcast Research on Religion talks with Econ Talk host Russ Roberts about the economics of religion.
The conversation focuses on the relationship between religion and the State--how does religion respond to a State-sanctioned monopoly?
And all of those things actually do have a logical process to them.
Churches exist in the world of scarcity, and as such, economics would seem to be applied to that.