Can Religion Serve as a Fundament for a Free Society?

Estefanía Campos  | 07 de mayo de 2019  | Vistas: 88

Director of research of the Acton Institute, Samuel Gregg, shares the outlines of the main points made in his paper titled Does religion support the free society? He says, “it depends”.

This is not a subject that is just a question of polite intellectual inquiry, it has very real implications for the relationship between free societies and religion”.

Samuel instead of answering, gives the criteria needed to assess if religion may support free societies.

  • a religion’s understanding of the Divinity
  • a religion’s view of reason and free choice
  • a religion’s conception of the state

He first explains the concept of religion, that is not the same as culture, but the search for the truth about the transcendent. Later goes into the first criteria, explaining the the understanding of reason that a religion has, is related and very important to rule of law and constitutional limited government.

If you believe that God is a reasonable creature, then that is likely to lead you to a commitment to reasonableness and non arbitrary behavior; fundamental for the institutions of a free society”.

Gregg talks about the current problem in the perception of reason, that’s just in empirical terms, when it really is a more complex concept that Christianity has taken very seriously since early times. It understanding is important for freedom because it encourages people to seek truth, and stops religions on lapsing on two errors: fideism and sentimentalism.

Finally Samuel addresses the third aspect, which is the conception of the state that a religion has. In here, Christianity insisted that the Cesar was not God, making a division of authority. To the extent that a religion makes this distinction, the more likely it is to provide foundation for constitutional order that limits the state's capacity in shaping people’s decisions, Samuel concludes. If religious liberty is taken away by the state, every other liberty can be taken away.


Director of Research, Acton Institute


Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín