Quick! Click here and download my "Origins of Religious Liberty" article. The journal is keeping tally of how many downloads I get over the course of one month.

The Political Origins of Religious Liberty

For a sample of my selected published and working papers, please see below.

In general, my research examines church-state relations through the lens of microeconomic analysis, or "rational choice." I try to avoid the latter moniker as many scholars have vehement reactions to this theoretical perspective and refuse to even consider the validity of the empirical research that tests rational choice propositions. Also, it should be known that I do consider norms, values and psychological mindsets to be important determinants of human behavior. I am drawn to the microeconomic perspective because of its rigorous deductive methodology, which leads to testable propositions. Does this mean that I avoid inductive research? No, not at all. Inductive research is often helpful in isolating patterns among data and revealing "outliers" (or paradoxes). In truth, very little research is entirely deductive or inductive (with the exception of abstract mathematics). Social scientists typically rely on both to inform their research. I tend to lean a bit towards the deductive side of the spectrum and am a partisan of spelling out one's assumptions explicitly and laying one's propositions out clearly. My methods students will know what I mean.

My early research work examined how various religious market structures led to various political outcomes, namely the political strategy of the Catholic Church in Latin America. For my "opus magnum" on this topic, please buy my book, Rendering Unto Caesar: The Catholic Church and the State in Latin America (University of Chicago Press). Also, you can view my curriculum vita for additional research papers on this topic.

My second book, entitled The Political Origins of Religious Liberty, examines...well, the political origins of religious liberty. Pretty self-explanatory, eh? Actually, I redefine the term "religious liberty" to mean more specifically the governmental regulation of religious organizations. I argue that changes in religious regulatory regimes are determined by the opportunity costs of rulers. This is different than most treatises on the topic that argue religious liberty results from changes in the ideological milieu (i.e., how the philosophy of religious freedom arose among intellectuals and was propagated). While ideas are important (you can't have religious liberty if no one thinks it is a good idea), I propose that there will typically be contentious ideological debate on church-state issues and the winner will be determined by the political environment. More specifically, my book will examine how political competition (the presence of real rivalries for power) and religious market structure affect the religious regulatory regime in a country over time. Empirically, this book examines Latin America (c. 1800 - present), the United States (c. 1620 - 1833) and contemporary Russia and the Baltics. For a taste of the theoretical framework of this study, consult my paper published in the IJRR - "The Political Origins of Religious Liberty" (see below). A study of Mexico that became an important part of the Latin American chapter was published earlier in the Journal of Church and State (consult vita).

I am also studying the effects of state welfare spending on religious practice (namely church attendance) and belief. The results are quite interesting. Please stay tuned for additional information.

I have other projects planned with good friends and colleagues (e.g., Steve Pfaff, Paul Froese, Matt Manweller) regarding stuff like Catholic institutional rigidity & principal-agent problems during the Protestant Reformation, the institutional structures of religious congregations, the demographics of the "God gap" and other stuff.

Additionally, I am just published some work with Steve Pfaff on Muslims in Germany in Comparative Political Studies.

I also have some "tangential" interests in institutional development in the "Wild West," which might not have been all that wild.

While I still consider myself to be a Latin Americanist (I love the food and culture), one can get a sense that I am a broad comparativist. It is my philosophy that a social scientist (or any scientist for that matter) should go where the interesting questions are. This is what intellectual curiosity and development are all about.

Selected papers in pdf format. The papers are copyrighted. Citations permitted on working papers so long as you contact the author. Please note that the paper entitled "Protestant Problems?," which I presented at Notre Dame on Oct. 2-3, 2003, is written in a very conversational style with a touch of humor here and there.

Political Origins of Religious
Liberty Comparative Politics & Religion
State Welfare Spending & Religiosity
Protestant Problems
Weber in Latin America

Look for more papers to be posted soon. I haven't been too good at updating this page. Please stay tuned.

Finally, a big thanks to all those who have helped me with these projects.