The American Economics Association (2011) notes that “Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources.” Indeed, the factors that determine how people use their resources and for that matter…
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Not until recently, not much attention was paid to how the spirituality of people can affect their economics. Spirituality has been thought to be associated with our inner self and has much to do with our non-physical self but our spiritual self, having an encounter with God (Russell, 2006). Most commonly therefore, spirituality is said to have a close relation to religion since religion centers on man’s realization for a supreme creator. This paper shall discuss the relationship between religion and economics with emphasis on how Christianity, Jewish and Buddhism affect economics. The first factor of consideration with reference to religion and economics is consumer behavior. Perner (2008) explains that consumer behavior involves the “psychological processes that consumers go through in recognizing needs, finding ways to solve these needs, making purchase decisions, interpret information, make plans, and implement these plans.” If consumer behavior is a psychological process, then it is very right to say that all three religions greatly affect the consumer behavior of its members. This is because in all three religions, followers are made to understand that God communicates to them through the mind. In Christianity for instance, Jesus is quoted as saying that a person would be judged based on the person’s thoughts and that “For out of the heart [mind] come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Psychology also deals with the mind. This way, people in the three religion are obliged not to make purchases merely by what they feel like buying but waiting for the voice of God in deciding what to buy and what not to buy. Another example with Christianity in Exodus 20:17 documents that "you shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Economically, this can be related to the consumer behavior of impulse buying resulting from enviousness to own an item. Spirituality therefore restricts worshipers in their purchases and consumer behavior, thereby affecting their personal economy. The second factor on spirituality that affects economy has to do with organizational ethics. According to Change Factory (2010), “ethics is a system or code of moral standards of a particular person, group or profession.” Ethics can be given a religious interpretation to represent righteousness because righteousness sets a moral standard by which religious followers are to tread. All three religions expect followers to be of the highest level of righteousness at the workplace thereby eschewing acts like bribery, corruption, laziness, cheating and pilfering, which are all considered as acts of unrighteousness. In Jewish worship for instance, the rabbinical law on theft and robbery speaks against stealing, stating in Sh. Ar., ?M 348:1 that an object which is in the possession of a person without the consent of its owner or any other person having a right thereto constitutes stealing (Jewish Virtual Library, 2008). In economics also, when workers in a given organization work devoid of the negative ethics mentioned, there is sure to be increased productivity and in effect, increased revenue. Once there is increased productivity, there is sure to be economic growth and development. The final factor to be discussed on how spirituality affects economics has to do with the spiritual adherence to faith. Faith may be generally said to be the spiritual hope to receive something that is unseen. In all three religions, faith is very central to their worship. In Christianity, it is said that without faith, it is impossible to
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