The Paradoxes of Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom
Acton Institute Powerblog

The Paradoxes of Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom

The role of economic liberty in contributing to human flourishing and the common good remains deeply underappreciated, says Samuel Gregg, even by those who are dedicated to religious liberty:

The relationship between economic and religious liberty can, however, work the other way: subtle corrosion of economic freedom can undermine religious liberty. A good example is the modern welfare state. Today, government spending, according to the OECD, consumes a minimum of 40 percent of annual GDP in virtually all Western European nations. The vast majority of this expenditure is on welfare programs.

The modern welfare state is predicated upon the willingness of governments to significantly limit economic freedom. You cannot have large welfare states without extensive regulation, higher taxes, and some redistribution of wealth. All such choices corrode, to some extent, economic freedom. But what does the welfare state have to do with religious liberty? Put simply, there is much to indicate that welfare states have had a negative impact on the Church’s institutional liberty.

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).