Religion, Welfare Politics, and Church-State Separation
Journal of Ecumenical Studies; 42(1), 42-52, 2007
17 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2007
How moral and religious beliefs interact with market forces is a subject of much debate. Can economic incentives explain why people believe what they believe? Some of our other work has looked at the impact of economic forces on religious intensity and at how incentives influence the impact of certain moral beliefs on gender-based violence. This essay uses market forces to explain why fiscal and social conservatism and fiscal and social liberalism come hand-in- hand. Religious intensity as social insurance provides a simple explanation. The religious right may be against welfare because it competes against their constituency.
We use this hypothesis to help solve three puzzles:
(1) Why fiscal and social conservatism align together in most countries is puzzling, since the fiscal libertarianism espoused by the Republican Party would seem to be an equally good fit with a libertarian position on issues of personal choice, such as abortion.
(2) Why fiscal and social conservatism did not align together in the past, such as the Social Gospel movement, or in some European countries today, presents another puzzle. Separation between church and state is key. The welfare state is not competitive against religious groups when part of the government budget can be distributed for religious groups.
(3) Why some countries separated church and state and sustain high church-state separation, high religiosity, and a low welfare state, while other countries did not separate church and state and sustain low church-state separation, low religiosity, and a high welfare state presents the final puzzle.
Keywords: religion, welfare, politics, church-state separation
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