The Volokh Conspiracy - -
More generally, it seems to me that many religious leaders who pronounce on public policy tend to reflexively favor increasing the role of government with little consideration of ways in which the interventions they favor might have perverse results, or ways in which social problems can be alleviated by reducing the role of the state instead of increasing it. Left-wing clergy seek to increase the role of government in fighting poverty, discrimination, and the like, while right-wing ones tend to focus their political energies on promoting "morals" regulation. This may well be painting with too broad a brush, and I'm sure there are religious leaders who are exceptions to this generalization. Nonetheless, it seems to me true as a general pattern (though I welcome correction by anyone who has compiled systematic data).
Learning basic law and economics won't necessarily turn religious leaders into libertarians. But it might give them a greater appreciation for markets, and engender at least a modest skepticism towards government. There are, to be sure, many clergy who don't make a practice of preaching on public policy issues. Danny's argument (or at least mine) doesn't apply to them. But it surely does apply to the many who do.
By the way, I have no doubt that the public policy pronouncements of leaders of atheist organizations often display just as little knowledge of economics as those of clergy. However, few people (even among atheists) give credence to the public policy views of atheist spokesmen merely because of their status as leaders of atheist organizations. By contrast, many religious people do take seriously the public policy pronouncements of their clergy, especially when those pronouncements are linked to religious duties such as Tikkun Olam.
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