In my field of economics, the is a word called “externalities”.Â Externaities happen when there is a transaction between two people, or an activity by one person, and others are affected.Â
TheÂ fieldÂ we call “pollution” is about externalities.Â If we who drive cars actually paid for all the externalities we push onto others, it would cost far more than it does now.Â Â
For a hundreds ofÂ years, some people smoked in the presence of others who did not and the smoke, or externality, was tolerated.Â Â WhenÂ data came alongÂ showing that there was actual health damage in the externality, smokers lost their rightsÂ in most public places.Â Â
Today their is an article with an interview with the Dean of the Law School at Liberty University, Matthew Staver.Â He registers a strong complaint against all the restrictions that have been placed on advocacy of Christianity in public places. These are prayers before public meetings, Christian displays and so on. He says these Christian expressions do not hurt anyone but do restrict the ability of people to express their faith.Â Â
I’ve never seen the term “externality” applied to this Christian expression.Â But, itÂ is a thing that,Â likeÂ smoking,Â some other people don’t want to be around.Â While anti-smoking advocates had health data to help them, people who do not like public expression of religion have some legal levers to pull.
To some extent, religious expression in public places is following the same pattern as another externality, smoking.