Laws that protect freedom of religion for all religious groups and give some benefits to religions generally
The United States and many other nations have decided to institute laws that give some protections and benefits to churches and to religious activities in general. This is because these societies have concluded that religions generally teach good moral values to citizens, and this brings good to these societies, including economic benefits. We will discuss this further in chapters 8 and 9, but at this point it is important to note that an economy derives economic benefits from the good moral habits (such as honesty, keeping one’s word, not stealing, diligence in work, and thrift) that are taught by churches, temples, and most religious organizations. But denial of freedom of religion (as in the Inquisition in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, or in the bans on Christianity in Japan in 1612 and in Muslim nations today) means that many economically productive people are kept out of a country and so are prohibited from contributing to the economy of that nation.
The main point of this chapter is that establishing a free-market economic system is not enough by itself to bring a country from poverty to greater prosperity. The government of the nation must also protect against corruption in government; protect its citizens against forces and people who would harm them; and promote universal education, stable family structures, and freedom of religion.
In all of these ways, a country’s leaders must use government power for the benefit of the people as a whole rather than for themselves, their families, and their friends. This is what the apostle Paul means when he tells the Christians in Rome that the civil authority “is God's servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4).