The Divine Economy: How Religions Compete for Wealth, Power, and People

Princeton Univ. May 2024. 504p. ISBN 9780691133003. $35. REL
One way to understand the power and influence of religions and their affiliations is through an economic lens. Economist Seabright (Toulouse Sch. of Economics; The Company of Strangers) discusses religions as businesses—platforms drawing together interconnected communities of people with different needs. His specific interest is in how religions function and derive and use their power; he asserts that sometimes these organizations abuse their power, especially when there’s a link to politics. The book draws insights from such disciplines as biology, anthropology, psychology, and history. It’s academic in tone and presentation and dense, which may make this work a challenging read for general readers. It includes more than 40 pages of endnotes and 40 pages of bibliography.
VERDICT A helpful title that frames religions as a business. Graduate students, scholars, and readers with a solid religious education will value this title the most.
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