A recent commentary in BusinessWeek described business leaders as seriously concerned because of the distraction of the Religious Right.

Evangelicals, having turned up in droves at the voting booth, are worrying corporate types who now wonder if they can get and keep the attention of this president on the issues that matter most to them.

What could happen is what bothers them: that, given the precious time and energy of a second term, the president might expend too much collateral on issues of abortion and homosexual marriage and not enough on consequential economic matters.

This anxiety of corporate suits affords the Church an opportunity to point out a lesson long apparent in the sweep of history. Notably: morality and strong economies go hand in hand.

While it is true that Judeo-Christian ethics ought never be sacrificed on the altar of profit, it is also true that the principle of "moral hazard" is a concept that belongs in Economics 101.

Professor Walter Williams explains: "Moral hazard arises when people behave in ways to satisfy themselves, but because they don't bear the full cost, their behavior comes at the detriment of others. Moral hazard is a pervasive problem, and it's only relatively recently that economic and legal scholars have begun to pay attention to it."

Consider the following (much of this adapted from Crown Financial Ministries):

• The rise in single-parent births has skyrocketed in the last several decades, and the economic consequences registers in the trillions of dollars as America combats a huge, related rise in crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare and homelessness.

• Since the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, there has been an average of well over a million surgical abortions and another 9 to 12 million mechanical and chemically controlled abortions annually. The economic price has been a loss of more than 50 million potential consumers and taxpayers in America since 1973, with an estimated loss of over a trillion dollars in the U.S. economy.

• Since the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (in this country largely caused by dirty needles and sex outside of marriage), HIV/AIDS is the fourth-leading cause of mortality and a substantial drag on the national and international economies.

• At the current rate of proliferation of the disease, AIDS patients could occupy 70 percent of the hospital bed space in America in the next decade, leaving only 30 percent of the available space for the treatment of all other ailments.

• For all that we understand about the health effects of tobacco, Americans are still spending an average of $31 billion annually on tobacco products. In addition, $58 billion is spent on alcohol consumption and $586.5 billion on gambling. On top of that, $250 billion is spent each year on the medical treatment of tobacco- and alcohol-related diseases.

Our corporate friends need to know that those of us concerned about morality are also concerned about the pocketbooks of our communities. We just recognize that as morality continues spiraling downward, so does our capacity to support the greatest economy in the history of man.

The prayers of a righteous nation availeth much. And the prayers of an unrighteous nation?

Can you spell D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N?


Find Dr. Matt Friedeman's blog at "In the Fight" (http://www.inthefight.blogspot.com). Friedeman (mfriedeman@wbs.edu) is a professor of evangelism and discipleship at Wesley Biblical Seminary (http://www.wbs.edu). He and his wife Mary home school their six children.

© 2004 Agape Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.