By God

Kevin Lewis

April 14, 2022

Thinking about God discourages dehumanization of religious outgroups
Julia Smith et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

In seven studies, six with American Christians and one with Israeli Jews (total N = 2,323), we examine how and when belief in moralizing gods influences dehumanization of ethno-religious outgroups. We focus on dehumanization because it is a key feature of intergroup conflict. In Studies 1–6, participants completed measures of dehumanization from their own perspectives and also from the perspective of God, rating the groups’ humanity as they thought God would rate it, or wish for them to rate it. When participants completed measures from both their own and God’s perspectives, they reported believing that, compared with their own views, God would see (or prefer for them to see) outgroup members as more human. In Study 7, we extend these findings by demonstrating that thinking about God’s views reduces the extent to which religious believers personally dehumanize outgroup members. Collectively, results demonstrate that religious believers attribute universalizing moral attitudes to God, compared to themselves, and document how thinking about God’s views can promote more positive intergroup attitudes. 

Economic effects of voluntary religious castration on the informal provision of cooperation: The case of the Russian Skoptsy sect
Vladimir Maltsev
European Economic Review, forthcoming

The article examines the effects of voluntary religious castration (VRC) on the informal provision of cooperation through boycott. To do so, it analyzes the Russian Skoptsy sect, active from 1772 to 1930. The Skoptsy were outlawed by the Russian state and had to secure cooperation through informal means. To do so, the sect relied on the threat of boycott against noncooperative individuals. I argue that VRC ensured the credibility of this threat. First, VRC created a high entry cost, which screened for single-minded and patient individuals who placed high value upon repeated in-group interaction. Second, VRC created a high exit cost from the sect because of the hostile attitude of the Russian populace to castrated individuals. Moreover, the public could cheaply identify the ex-sect members and punish them because of permanent physiological changes caused by VRC. The credible threat of ostracism secured widespread cooperation among the Skoptsy and enabled the sect to support its members through a system of mutual aid and inheritance. Cooperation in the sect also allowed for a rapid creation of wealth through market collusion, making the Skoptsy one of the richest sects in Russia and abroad.

The macro-level effect of religiosity on health
Dierk Herzer
Health Economics, forthcoming

An issue that has not yet been explored in the religiosity-health literature is the macro-level effect of religiosity on health — the effect of the religiosity of a society on the absolute health of the population of that society as a whole. We address this issue using two panel datasets: The first is a time-series cross-sectional panel dataset for 17 countries from 1925 to 2000. The second is a cross-sectionally dominated panel dataset of up to 92 countries for the period 1981–2016. Our main findings are as follows: first, religiosity has a significant negative causal effect on health at the macro level; second, a substantial part of this effect can be attributed to an indirect effect via public health expenditures; and third, changes in population health do not cause significant changes in societal religiosity. 

The Holy Father (and Mother)? Multiple Tests of the Hypothesis That Parenthood and Parental Care Motivation Lead to Greater Religiosity
Nicholas Kerry, Marjorie Prokosch & Damian Murray
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Parenting is a universal element of human life. However, the motivational and attitudinal implications of parenthood remain poorly understood. Given that many major religions prescribe parent-benefiting norms restricting sexual promiscuity and socially disruptive behavior, we hypothesized that both parenthood and parental care motivation would predict higher levels of religiosity. Studies 1 to 3 (N >2,100 U.S. MTurkers; two preregistered) revealed that parental status and motivation were robustly associated with religiosity in Americans, and that age-related increases in religiosity were mediated by parenthood. Study 4a (376 students) found a moderated experimental effect, such that emotionally engaged participants showed increases in religiosity in response to a childcare manipulation. Study 4b then replicated this effect in recoded data from Studies 1 and 2. Study 5 used data from the World Values Survey (N = 89,565) and found further evidence for a relationship between parenthood and religiosity. These findings support functional accounts of the relationship between parenthood and mainstream religiosity. 

From Bat Mitzvah to the Bar: Religious Habitus, Self-Concept, and Women’s Educational Outcomes
Ilana Horwitz et al.
American Sociological Review, April 2022, Pages 336-372

This study considers the role of religious habitus and self-concept in educational stratification. We follow 3,238 adolescents for 13 years by linking the National Study of Youth and Religion to the National Student Clearinghouse. Survey data reveal that girls with a Jewish upbringing have two distinct postsecondary patterns compared to girls with a non-Jewish upbringing, even after controlling for social origins: (1) they are 23 percentage points more likely to graduate college, and (2) they graduate from much more selective colleges. We then analyze 107 interviews with 33 girls from comparable social origins interviewed repeatedly between adolescence and emerging adulthood. Girls raised by Jewish parents articulate a self-concept marked by ambitious career goals and an eagerness to have new experiences. For these girls, elite higher education and graduate school are central to attaining self-concept congruence. In contrast, girls raised by non-Jewish parents tend to prioritize motherhood and have humbler employment aims. For them, graduating from college, regardless of its prestige, is sufficient for self-concept congruence. We conclude that religious subculture is a key factor in educational stratification, and divergent paths to self-concept congruence can help explain why educational outcomes vary by religion in gendered ways. 

Religious Affiliation and Wrongdoing: Evidence from U.S. Nursing Homes
Aharon Mohliver & Amandine Ody-Brasier
Management Science, forthcoming

We explore the relationship between organizational religious affiliation and wrongdoing using a unique data set on inspections in 16,101 nursing homes over five years. We find that violations of standards of care are more severe in religiously affiliated homes. We track this difference to a reduction in the likelihood that organizational members file complaints rather than poorer behaving caretakers or differential treatment by enforcement agents. Fewer complaints increase the time that religiously affiliated homes operate without monitoring, which allows violations to escalate before they are detected. Our findings highlight an understudied process in the literature on organizational wrongdoing: Although much attention has been devoted to how inspector bias can lead to incorrect conclusions about the true rates of wrongdoing across organizations, religious affiliation can lead to similarly incorrect conclusions — but through an internal organizational process. 

Do Beliefs in Christian Nationalism Predict Mental Health Problems? The Role of Religious (Non)Involvement
Laura Upenieks
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, February 2022

An area that has received little attention in the stress process model of mental health is belief systems and values. A belief system that has been the focus of considerable recent research attention is Christian nationalism, an ideology that advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture. Using nationally representative data from the United States (2017 Baylor Religion Survey), the author examines the extent to which Christian nationalist ideology represented a unique and independent influence on two mental health outcomes, depression and anxiety. The results suggest that stronger beliefs in Christian nationalism were associated with higher depression and anxiety, but the link between Christian nationalism and depression was significantly stronger for those with lower individual religiosity. The author discusses the implications of our findings and offer directions for future research. 

What Gender Values Do Muslims Resist? How Religiosity and Acculturation Over Time Shape Muslims’ Public-Sphere Equality, Family Role Divisions, and Sexual Liberalization Values Differently
Saskia Glas
Social Forces, forthcoming

Populist voices argue that Muslim migrants’ religion would cause them to denounce all aspects of women’s equality and sexual liberalization, no matter how long migrants have lived in Western Europe. Previous quantitative studies have refuted claims that Islamic religiosity necessarily begets gender traditionalism and that migrants would not become more progressive over time. However, existing studies have not yet addressed the assumption of uniformity in “gender egalitarianism.” The present study argues that individuals’ religiosity and acculturation over time shape support for public-sphere equality, progressive family role divisions, and sexual liberalization in different ways. EURISLAM data on 4,000 Muslim migrants show that different gender values are indeed driven by varying mechanisms and develop differently. Over time and generations, Muslim migrants’ support for public-sphere equality and sexual liberalization swell, but their support for progressive family roles dwindles. Religiosity hardly reduces support for public-sphere equality, more strongly curbs progressive family roles, and most strongly stifles sexual liberalization. These differences magnify over the years after migration; religiosity’s already weak and inconsistent obstruction to public-sphere equality further dulls, while its stronger opposition to sexual liberalization intensifies. Altogether, varying gender values differ to such an extent that any conclusion on “the gender traditionalism” of Muslim migrants should be viewed suspiciously. 

Can the State Make you More Religious? Evidence from Turkish Experience
Murat Çokgezen
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, forthcoming

This paper first evaluates the impact of a two-decade-long Islamization policy carried out by a pro-Islamist party, which came to power in 2002 in Turkey, on the attitudes of Turkish people toward religious values, religious practices, and clergy. In this regard, how the importance of religion, frequency of going to mosques, and trust in the clergy have changed among Turkish Muslims between 2002 and 2018 were examined by using World Values Survey data and employing logistic regression analysis. Estimation results indicated a reduction in belief in God, attendance to mosques, and trust in clergy, which imply the failure of the Islamization policy. Second, we explored what caused the failure by using the same data set and methodology. Our estimations suggested that the symbiotic relationship between the pro-Islamist government and religious clergy and institutions may explain the failure. As the government is identified with religion in the eye of the public, dissatisfaction with the government turned to dissatisfaction with religious values. 

Religious behavior and European veil bans
Michael Hoffman & Emma Rosenberg
Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming

Do societal religious practices affect European policies towards Muslim veils? We argue that public religious behavior has a substantial effect on European countries’ and regions’ decisions regarding whether or not to ban the wearing of the veil in public spaces. Using data from the European Social Survey, we find that countries with higher levels of religious attendance are substantially less likely to enact veil bans than those where religious attendance is less common. We augment these findings with data from Switzerland, where variation across subnational units parallels the patterns witnessed in Europe more broadly: aggregate religious attendance decreases the likelihood of both voting on veil bans and actually enacting them. In environments characterized by a salient secular-religious divide, high levels of religious attendance lead to greater support for the public expression of religion – even for religious outgroups – and this support is often channeled into more accommodating policies towards religious expression. 

Belief in karma is associated with perceived (but not actual) trustworthiness
How Hwee Ong et al.
Judgment and Decision Making, March 2022, Pages 362–377

Believers of karma believe in ethical causation where good and bad outcomes can be traced to past moral and immoral acts. Karmic belief may have important interpersonal consequences. We investigated whether American Christians expect more trustworthiness from (and are more likely to trust) interaction partners who believe in karma. We conducted an incentivized study of the trust game where interaction partners had different beliefs in karma and God. Participants expected more trustworthiness from (and were more likely to trust) karma believers. Expectations did not match actual behavior: karmic belief was not associated with actual trustworthiness. These findings suggest that people may use others’ karmic belief as a cue to predict their trustworthiness but would err when doing so. 

The Religious Work Ethic and the Spirit of Patriarchy: Religiosity and the Gender Gap in Working for Its Own Sake, 1977 to 2018
Landon Schnabel et al.
Sociological Science, March 2022 

Societal beliefs about women’s work have long been a metric for gender equality, with recent scholarship focusing on trends in these attitudes to assess the progress (or stalling) of the gender revolution. Moving beyond widely critiqued gender attitude questions thought to be the only available items for measuring change over time, this article considers women’s and men’s views toward their own work over the last half century. Traditional gender scripts frame women’s labor force participation as less than ideal, something to do if financially necessary but not because work is intrinsically rewarding. Historically, this gender frame was reinforced by religion. We examine the gender gap in working for its own sake over time and whether and how religious involvement moderates these trends. Overall, the gender gap has declined to the point where it is now virtually nonexistent. However, religious involvement acts as a countervailing influence, bolstering the gap such that frequently attending men and women have not yet converged in their desire to work. Although the most religious Americans have not yet converged, men’s dropping desire to work and women’s rising desire to work are society-wide trends, and even the most religious Americans could be expected to converge at some point in the future. Traditionalist institutions contribute to unevenness in the gender revolution, but preferences cannot explain the persistent society-wide precarity of women’s work: Women now prefer to work for work’s sake at the same rate men do. 

The Einstein effect provides global evidence for scientific source credibility effects and the influence of religiosity
Suzanne Hoogeveen et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming

People tend to evaluate information from reliable sources more favourably, but it is unclear exactly how perceivers’ worldviews interact with this source credibility effect. In a large and diverse cross-cultural sample (N = 10,195 from 24 countries), we presented participants with obscure, meaningless statements attributed to either a spiritual guru or a scientist. We found a robust global source credibility effect for scientific authorities, which we dub ‘the Einstein effect’: across all 24 countries and all levels of religiosity, scientists held greater authority than spiritual gurus. In addition, individual religiosity predicted a weaker relative preference for the statement from the scientist compared with the spiritual guru, and was more strongly associated with credibility judgements for the guru than the scientist. Independent data on explicit trust ratings across 143 countries mirrored our experimental findings. These findings suggest that irrespective of one’s religious worldview, across cultures science is a powerful and universal heuristic that signals the reliability of information.


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