Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why the Biggest Obstacle to Fixing the Economy is Religion

When the oh-so-"moderate" evangelicals whom President-elect Obama is working so hard to please turn on him and attack his efforts to repair and modernize the social safety net, don't be surprised.

Order this copy of Free Inquiry and read the print-only article by Gregory Paul: The Big Religion Questions Finally Solved.

In that article, Paul demonstrates why the relgious must oppose social advancements like progressive taxation, universal health care, strong unions and free public education or else face their own extinction.

Because in every industrialized nation on the planet, low levels of economic disparity, high middle-class economic security and a strong social safety net correlate strongly with widespread secularism.

In other words, the more dysfunctional a society is, the more religious it tends to be.

Analyzing numerous large surveys of world populations, Paul finds:

Among the first world's 19 prosperous democracies, all but the United States have adopted pragmatic, progressive and secular socioeconomic policies that maximize the financial security of the middle class (that is to say, the majority of citizens.)

In most first-world countries, it is hard to lose middle-class status - no western European or Australian goes bankrupt due to overwhelming medical bills. These high levels of financial security, lower levels of income disparity, and more modest rates of societal dysfunction reduce personal stress levels to the degree that middle-class majorities in western Europe, Canada and Australia feel secure and comfortable.

This security and comfort being achieved, the number of citizens who feel the need to seek the aid and protection of supernatural deities has sunken to historic lows and citizens abandon their former churches in droves.

In addition, comprehensive governmental social assistance programs displace much of the faith-based charitable complex that churches have historically used to extend their influence over the lay population.

Moreover, secular societies tend to favor other pragmatic social policies such as extensive sex-education and domestic violence intervention that further surpess societal dysfunctions.

The popular secularization these pragmatic policies induce is accidental, but nonetheless the effect is so powerful that is has occurred in every progressive first-world democracy. it has occurred despite the absence of a large-scale organized atheistic movement and has yet to be reversed in any country by a major religious revival.

Wonder why "religious leaders" so admantly oppose economic support programs that would help their own congregations? Because they know, at least subconciously, that the greatest threat to religion is a strong, successful, secure society.

To thrive, or even survive, religion needs a frightened, insecure population and a weak, incompetent government that drives people to seek succor in religion.

So when Rick "I have unlimited compassion for the poor and sick" Warren exhorts his congregation to fight Obama's economic stimulus plan and universal health care, read Paul's article and you'll understand why.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....