The Religious Freedom Project is engaging major new questions not often broached in contemporary debates over
the meaning and value of religious freedom. What is the relationship between religious freedom, other
fundamental freedoms, and societal flourishing? What economic and political benefits accrue to societies that
afford full and free expression to the religious impulses that are deeply embedded in the human experience?
Can religious freedom contribute to the consolidation and longevity of democracy, to economic growth and
reductions in poverty, or to the equality of women?
To address these questions with empirical data and rigorous scholarship the RFP has commissioned some of the most outstanding scholars in America. The scholars comprise two working groups and together they form an interdisciplinary research team under Director Thomas Farr and Associate Director Timothy Shah.
The RFP's Economic Working Group focuses on the impact of religious freedom on economic freedom, political economy, and development. Our scholars are economists, development specialists, political scientists, and students of Islam with relevant expertise on economic issues. They have a broad regional focus, analyzing issues in the West, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The group analyzes the importance of religious freedom for entrepreneurship, poverty alleviation, property rights, the dignity and equality of women in the workforce, family structure and stability, and social mobility in India.
The RFP's Political Working Group focuses on the impact of religious freedom on political freedom and democracy. Our scholars are experts in areas of political science, sociology, law, diplomacy, and philosophy. Their analysis is both qualitative and quantitative, and covers political developments around the globe. The group examines the importance of religious freedom for reforming semi-authoritarian regimes; the relationship between the freedom to proselytize and democratization; religious freedom in the politics of Muslim-majority countries;and the role of religious freedom in geo-political competitiveness.