Monday, January 27, 2014

On the Decline of Religion

A second factor [in the decline of religion] is the opening up of economic borders, such as between member nations of the European Union, which replaces zero-sum religious tribalism with nonzero financial exchange. Free trade and the division of labor constitute the greatest generator of wealth in history, and according to the Religion Monitor report using the survey data, “socio-economic well-being generally results in a decline in the social significance of religion in society and a decrease in the numbers of people who base their life praxis on religious norms and rules.” Why? One of the social functions of religion is to help the poor, so as a country's impoverished declines (and, as in Sweden and other European countries, government social programs aid the poor), so, too, does religiosity. And because the middle classes of most countries are growing from the youth up, that could explain the report's assessment that “almost all the countries in the study … exhibit a decline in the centrality and significance of religion for daily life from one generation to another. As a general rule, the younger people are, the lower their religiosity.”

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