Introduction to the Symposium on the Economics of Religion

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Forum for Social Economics



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doctrinal competition in religion, social economics tradition, Pope Francis, immaterial poverty, externalities, social costs, Catholic economic thought, liberalism, freedom, individual property, religious liberty, restrictions on religious freedom, social interaction in religious clubs


© 2018 The Association for Social Economics. This article introduces the six essays comprising this symposium on the economics of religion. The essay by Carvalho presents an economic model highlighting the “social role” of sacrifice in religious clubs that extends the seminal research on the clubs nature of religious groups. Next, the essay by Gill demonstrates how land use restrictions by government can work to infringe upon religious liberty, and why such restrictions may be implemented by local governments. The essay by Boettke, Hall and Sheehan re-examines, in a modern empirical context, the conceptual argument of Adam Smith, that either monopoly or oligopoly in religion is productive of a dangerous religious zeal that does not exist in a society where competition in religion flourishes. The essay by Bridges and Mixon asserts that changes to the Puritan religious doctrines related to church membership represented a relatively successful market response by Puritan theologians to declining church membership and attendance in seventeenth century colonial America. The essay by Sandonà explores Pope Francis’ critique of “money idolatry,” his rejection of “trickle-down” economics, his support of inclusive institutions, and his thoughts on a movement toward a green economy. Lastly, the essay by Solari contends that reference to natural law renders the central points of liberalism—freedom and individual property—non-comparable to the equivalent notions supported by Catholicism, thus affecting the Catholic approach to capitalism manifest in various moments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These essays offer a fresh, interdisciplinary view on some of the more historical and modern issues that are being investigated by researchers in this genre.

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