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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The economics of religion lays aside transcendent claims of the church to study it as a social organization that uses scarce resources to achieve its ends. In contrast to the secularization models deployed by some sociologists of religion, economic models of religion tend to suggest that free markets for religious services will encourage continual entry of new organisations, steadily enriching religion. There is, however, no unified economic model of religion. In this chapter, we consider the role of models that treats strictness in religious practice as a screening device that has the effect of reducing free riding where religious goods are collectively produced, the role of voluntary contributions as the main financing mechanism of churches, a characterisation of a denominational church as a franchise organisation, and the possibility that officials of monopoly churches might engage in rent seeking behaviour at the expense of church members.

Keywords: interdisciplinary, economics, theology, religion, Christianity, club goods, donations, rent seeking, secularization

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