Religion and Civil Liberties in the United States

Tony Gill

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195390049
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Religion and Civil Liberties in the United States


In the contemporary era, and indeed ever since the Age of Enlightenment, the issue of civil liberties has taken an increasingly important role in the world of politics and economics. These civil liberties frequently include the rights to free speech, to petition government, to a fair trial before a jury of one's peers, to assemble peacefully, and prohibitions on the arbitrary seizure of property. Given that religious freedom is a crucial link in the economic explanation of religion, it behooves us to understand how this vital civil liberty produces religious pluralism and vibrancy, and how religious freedom develops within polities. This article frames religious freedom in the United States as a regulatory issue, proposes an economically rooted explanation for why politicians would deregulate the religious marketplace, and discusses why religious civil liberties are important for promoting spiritual vibrancy and a strong civic culture in society. It also examines the link between religious liberty and political economy.

Keywords: religious freedom; United States; religious marketplace; religion; civil liberties; spiritual vibrancy; civic culture; religious liberty; political economy; religious pluralism

Article.  5279 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Industry Studies ; Public Economics

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