“The sad fact is that much of the Muslim and Arab world is in a state ofeconomic malaise—fueled by high unemployment, massive illiteracy and anemic GDPs. These societies are in the vice-like grip of a cultural hostility toward religious freedom and pluralism . As a result, the potential of such nations is shackled.
It can’t be denied that many of the countries with the worst records on religious freedom – Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, the Maldives, North Korea, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, etc. – also have terrible economies.
And the importance of freedom of conscience to the stability and economic well-being of the state is based on historical precedent. Rising prosperity across Europe during the 17th century had a significant impact on religious mentalities. The flourishing of trade and rising living standards occurred alongside the rapid growth of religious sects, undercutting the fear that spiritual disunity invited divine judgment. Whereas prosperity and toleration had once been seen as mortal enemies, the economic dynamism of religiously tolerant states provided a new paradigm: prosperity and religious freedom were now seen as twins….”
Read the complete essay as it appears on CiF Watch: