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Aerial view Regent University campus in Virginia Beach.

FRC and Regent University Release Joint Study Linking Religious Freedom to Economic Well-Being

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 28, 2022) – Regent University and Family Research Council released a new report today titled “Why International Religious Freedom is Vital to International Development: Causal Connections and Policy Recommendations.” The report focuses on how agencies responsible for administering America’s foreign development assistance should promote religious freedom abroad. This report also points to the evidence that economic growth can only be fully realized for developing nations when religious freedom is protected.

Regent’s Dr. A. J. Nolte and FRC’s Arielle Del Turco, who jointly authored the report, observe: “According to USAID’s mission statement, it exists in part to ‘promote and demonstrate democratic values abroad, and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.’ One of the most meaningful ways USAID can do this is by promoting religious freedom around the world. The reality is that the expansion of religious freedom contributes to many international development goals, and programming geared toward promoting international religious freedom (IRF) can play a positive role in advancing this fundamental human right for all people.”

The report goes on to assert: “Because of the correlation between religious freedom and economic growth, the U.S. government’s foreign assistance efforts would greatly benefit from promoting international religious freedom programming and projects. If the U.S. government wants to have a long-lasting impact in the countries it seeks to strengthen, then promoting religious freedom must be a part of the solution.”

The report’s co-author Arielle Del Turco commented on the study:

“Research demonstrates a strong link between religious freedom and economic growth and development. If the U.S. government wants to have a positive long-term impact on developing societies, then advancing religious freedom must be a part of the game plan. U.S. development efforts should be focusing on protecting persecuted communities and contributing to stable societies that embrace religious freedom. This will allow them to prosper.”

“Religious freedom–defined as the ability to choose, change, and live in accordance with your faith–is core to who we are. We do people in the developing world a serious disservice by overlooking this fundamental human right. By fostering religious freedom in the developing world, we can help set countries up for success,” Del Turco concluded.

The full report, and the corresponding issue brief, can be found here: