The Marketplace of Christianity

MIT Press
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This startlingly original (and sure to be controversial) account of the evolution of Christianity shows that the economics of religion has little to do with counting the money in the collection basket and much to do with understanding the background of today's religious and political divisions. Since religion is a set of organized beliefs, and a church is an organized body of worshippers, it's natural to use a science that seeks to explain the behavior of organizations -- economics -- to understand the development of organized religion. The Marketplace of Christianity applies the tools of economic theory to illuminate the emergence of Protestantism in the sixteenth century and to examine contemporary religion-influenced issues, including evolution and gay marriage.

The Protestant Reformation, the authors argue, can be seen as a successful penetration of a religious market dominated by a monopoly firm -- the Catholic Church. The Ninety-five Theses nailed to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther raised the level of competition within Christianity to a breaking point. The Counter-Reformation, the Catholic reaction, continued the competitive process, which came to include "product differentiation" in the form of doctrinal and organizational innovation. Economic theory shows us how Christianity evolved to satisfy the changing demands of consumers--worshippers.

The authors of The Marketplace of Christianity avoid value judgments about religion. They take preferences for religion as given and analyze its observable effects on society and the individual. They provide the reader with clear and nontechnical background information on economics and the economics of religion before focusing on the Reformation and its aftermath. Their analysis of contemporary hot-button issues -- science vs. religion, liberal vs. conservative, clerical celibacy, women and gay clergy, gay marriage -- offers a vivid illustration of the potential of economic analysis to contribute to our understanding of religion.

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Robert B. Ekelund, Jr.
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Additional Information

Publisher
MIT Press
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Published on
Sep 26, 2008
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780262262620
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
Religion / Christianity / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Robert B. Ekelund, Jr.
Robert B. Ekelund Jr.
What role did economics play in leading the United States into the Civil War in the 1860s, and how did the war affect the economies of the North and the South? Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation uses contemporary economic analyses such as supply and demand, modern market theory, and the economics of politics to interpret events of the Civil War.

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Thornton and Ekelund have contributed an overdue examination of the Civil War that will impart to students a modern way to better comprehend the conflict. Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation offers fresh, penetrating insights into this pivotal event in American history.

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