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How Religious Freedom Benefits Our Society

Religious freedom should be encouraged — even by those who follow no religion — and there are many reasons why.
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By: Ashlynn Lilly, Communications Assistant 

“Countries cannot have long-run economic prosperity and freedom without actively allowing for and promoting religious liberty.” – Christos Makridis

Christos Makridis, who is a Stanford and Arizona State University graduate, published a recent study that discusses certain aspects about religious liberty as a critical building block of a free society. The study goes into great depth of explaining how religious liberty is the fundamental element in having more economic freedom and flourishing. 

The study also explores the ties between religious liberty and economic freedom with how one encourages the other; the freedom of religion ultimately helps society flourish.

“Religious liberty is a precursor to economic freedom, so changes in economic freedom may reflect earlier changes in policies that effectively expanded religious freedoms,” Christos states.

Religious Liberty Across the Globe

Even though the study notes that religious freedom benefits society, Makridis points out that since 2010, religious freedom has declined worldwide. The study points to three different factors that impact religious freedom:

1. Whether a country explicitly protects religious freedom in its laws

2. Whether a country supports economic freedom, specifically personal property rights

3. Whether a country’s culture prioritizes religious activities in daily life

Is Religious Freedom an Excuse for Discrimination?

Some claim that less religious liberty is a good thing. They don't see how this freedom protects everyone. But religious freedom should be encouraged — even by those who follow no religion — and there are many reasons why.

Limiting religious freedom limits freedom for all of us. It is important that everyone has the right to live according to their beliefs without fear of government punishment. Here in the United States, the First Amendment protects our right to peacefully exercise any religion—or no religion at all. It also promises that the government cannot punish people for simply following a certain religion, even if someone else disagrees with their personal beliefs.

People have rights to their beliefs because of religious freedom. Everyone has ideas about what best contributes to the growth of human development and has a right to share those ideas with others. These ideas and convictions are associated with people’s core beliefs.

Religious freedom is beneficial for all people, not just those who practice religion. Research shows that countries with less religious freedom are more restrictive within their societies. When we try to constrain someone to do something against their beliefs, we, in turn, are restricting freedom for ourselves and everyone else. One of the reasons that America is considered the “land of the free” is the fact that we have protected religious freedom along with many other freedoms.

So, why does the state of religious liberty matter for economic freedom and human flourishing?

According to the Makridis study, religious freedom is the foundation for our other freedoms. Where there is religious freedom, other freedoms follow. Ultimately, religious freedom does benefit our society because it allows humankind to flourish and allows for the exchange of different thoughts and ideas — which actually strengthens a society.

To learn more about how ADF is defending religious freedom in courtrooms across the nation, sign up for our newsletter.


Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF team members contributed to the writing and publication of this article.