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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Religious Freedom and Religious Violence

In a previous post I referenced a paper by Tony Gill that documents how various government regulations imposed by local governments have restricted the ability of churches to build and/or expand their meeting facilities and increased the general cost of doing business.  Now, a soon-to-be-released book by Brian Grim and Roger Finke (The Price of Freedom Denied) highlight some other costs that restrictions on religious liberty impose on societies as a whole. In short, what they found is when religious freedoms are denied or taken away, violence and religious persecution are likely to increase. 

Since the book hasn't been released I haven't had the opportunity to read it, but David Briggs has provided a nice summary of the book in his on-line column, "Ahead of the Trend."  To quote from the abstract of his column:
"The temptation to restrict religious freedom, whether it is to prevent a Florida pastor from burning Qurans or a church being built near a residential neighborhood, can be difficult to resist. Governments contemplate the strife committed in the name of religion, or the costs of upholding religious freedoms, and see restrictions as a way to serve the public good. Yet it is the act of restricting religion, not the presence of diverse groups of faiths, that most likely leads to religious persecution and violence, Brian Grim of the Pew Research Center and Roger Finke of Pennsylvania State University point out in a new book examining "The Price of Freedom Denied." In the latest Ahead of the Trend, religious liberty scholars explore why the free exercise of religion cannot be taken for granted."
Briggs's columns, I should add, are worth checking out on a regular basis because they provide short (but complete) summaries of recent research on interesting topics in a way that non-experts can understand. They also dispel many of the myths about religion that pass for conventional wisdom among many folks these days.

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