The following is an excerpt from the article “Kazakhstan is at a Critical Point of Decision.” Religious freedom is important because it serves as a barometer for the climate of democracy and freedom of citizens. In addition to advocating for religious freedom, businesses can do their part by making religious freedom an important component of their mission.
Recent studies have substantiated the fact that religious freedom is an important component for political stability and corresponding economic prosperity. In their book The Price of Freedom Denied, researchers Brian Grim and Roger Finke stated “religious freedom is not only strongly correlated with other freedoms and civil liberties, but it is also an important factor in other universally desirable goods such as lower levels of armed conflict and poverty, along with higher levels of income and better lives for women.”
At the 2010 Religious Freedom and National Security Policy conference at Georgetown University, former National Security Council representative Will Imboden described how any erosion in a country’s religious freedom invariably signals the erosion of all other liberties and human rights. Governments that are not committed to religious liberty become increasingly intolerant and coercive, insisting that they have a monopoly on truth that must be forced on others. Without religious freedom, democracy suffers, economic stagnation becomes inevitable.
Freedom and human rights, as expressed through the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and vote are what produce the vital sense of ownership of the nation by the people. This sense of ownership is what fosters the sense of social and civic responsibility, which motivates private citizens to make a great nation. It is this atmosphere of democracy in which business and free markets thrive.