Faithonomics: Religion and the Free Market

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Faithonomics: Religion and the Free Market
By Torkel Brekke
Oxford University Press, 2016
256 pp.
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Religion and economics are usually regarded as separate domains, except for religious injunctions that prescribe or proscribe certain forms of economic behavior. In this unusual book, Brekke applies economic concepts—supply and demand, public versus private goods, oligopoly versus free markets, and so on—to the provision of the religious services offered by several faiths. His main conclusion is that state support for particular religions—even indirect support, such as tax exemptions—is neither wise nor warranted. Far from promoting religious practice, it generally leads to a loss of public interest and also fosters rent seeking and even arbitrage by religious authorities.