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Q&A with Paul Marshall On Religious Freedom

Interview by Collin Hansen

The Hudson Institute senior fellow discusses initial findings of the forthcoming book Religious Freedom in the World 2007.

For the full story, go to Christianity Today

How does a country’s religious background affect its religious freedom?
Christian-background countries in general score high. Many of Muslim background score low. Catholic-background countries score more or less the same as Protestant-background countries. That would not have been the case 30 years ago. The Orthodox tend to score lower. Some of this is Communist holdover. But the Orthodox traditionally have had a close relationship with the state. So the idea of new religious groups operating in their territory is still very difficult.

You discovered an interesting correlation when you compared religious freedom to economic freedom.
If you take the worst 30 countries in terms of economic freedom, every one scored low with religious freedom. The top 30 countries all scored high. Why is that? We see two connections. . . . we also believe that religious freedom helps general health, well-being, and wealth broadly understood. To the degree that people are not free to organize and manage their lives, you cut down on the possibility of independent economic activity. People are simply used to not doing things unless they’re told to do them.