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Religious Repression → Economic Stagnation

7 Dec, 2022

Religious Repression Yields Economic Stagnation – as evidenced by countries on US State Department Countries of Concern list

by Brian Grim

The US State Department just released the latest Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list for egregious violations of religious freedom. The list includes the world’s second largest economy, the People’s Republic of China, which has seen a marked economic downturn coinciding with the draconian zero-covid policy that has put hundreds of millions of residents in a series of lockdowns.

The Chinese Communist Party’s total population control — now easing due to a series of public protests the likes of which have not been not seen since the government brutally put down the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations — mirrors policies used to control religious populations, such as their detention of an estimated one million Uyghur and other Muslims in the western Xinjiang region.

Such policies are drawing not only sanctions but driving global businesses to move their operations and supply chains elsewhere for freer, less state-controlled markets. (Also see my previous analysis, China’s Economic Secret Under Threat.)

Religious repression is also associated with market liabilities in Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Myanmar, all of which continue to be under heavy sanctions for hostile actions, many involving religiously repressive or assertive policies, such as Russia’s Orthodox Church justifying on religious grounds Putin’s war of aggression on Ukraine, as I’ve previously written.

As shown in our Cambridge University Press book, The Price of Freedom Denied, a lack of religious freedom in a country results in violent religious persecution and conflict. Furthering that research, our article “Is Religious Freedom Good for Business?” shows that religious hostilities and restrictions create climates that can drive away local and foreign investment, undermine sustainable development, and disrupt huge sectors of economies.

If you’d like to help address these issues, there’s something you can help us with. Please nominate business leaders you know (or know about) who are working to advance cultures of interfaith understanding, religious freedom (broadly defined), and peace for our 2023 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards. More information is here.

The Awards will be presented next September in India, part of our covenantal pluralism initiative devoted to interfaith understanding and peace in the world’s largest democracy.