Regulating the Relationship between State and Religion: An Economic Approach
15 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 15, 2012
In defining its relationship towards religion, the Dutch government is committed to the values of freedom of religion and neutrality. This article uses the economic approach to freedom of religion and state neutrality as a tool for looking at the existing Dutch policy of state aid to religion and at the Dutch freedom of religion cases. This investigation shows that the Dutch outcomes in religious cases follow a pattern of economic neutrality to a large extent, but that there are also deviations. This is especially the case for the policy of the Dutch (local) government to grant benefits to religious organisations based on a belief that the promotion of religion will provide positive results for society. Can religion contribute much to the enforcement of moral and social norms under conditions of modernity? This article seeks to contribute to this discussion by adding the insights of the economic literature on the enforcement of moral and social norms.
Keywords: social norms, religious freedom, neutrality
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