The Catholic University of America is exploring the relationship between Economic Freedom and Religious Freedom around the world, but especially in the United States. Using the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom as a starting point, the university states that Religious Freedom is based on: human dignity, freedom of association, the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit, and God-ordained but limited role of Government. According to Jay Richards, of CUA, there is a “tight correlation” between high or low levels of Religious Freedom and Economic Freedom in countries around the world. He states that the Government should be strong enough to enforce law without infringing on personal liberties, and Religious Freedom does not give a person the right to do anything in the name of religious belief.
According to the study, Christians support policy because they support the goal of that policy, while ignoring the consequence of the policy. For example, Richards looks at the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, which has the goal of providing healthcare to all Americans, regardless of their employment or economic position. The goal that most Americans see is the Economic one: providing access to healthcare in an affordable manner, which translates to “Economic Freedom”. However, many do not see the implications against Religious Freedom, namely the requirement that these Government-mandated health insurances violate the religious beliefs of individuals and organizations.
While Christianity seeks to establish Economic Freedom across the world, something that Pope Francis has pushed for throughout his short Papacy, they must also recognize that by giving Government the power to establish Economic Freedom, it may be that they are providing that same Government control of the Religious Freedoms that so many have worked to establish and maintain. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees the Freedom of Religion for all Americans, and the fact that that freedom is first among many established by the Bill of Rights sets it apart as something that the Founders believed to be necessary for the success of the United States.
Freedom and Religious Freedom are not tied together would be false. The two are interrelated and feed upon each other and grow with each other. But if the Government chooses to ignore one in favor of the other, it will quickly become apparent just how related the two are. Without the Right to freely practice religion or the Right to freely practice business, the United States will lose two of the pillars that make it the great nation that it is today.