People of Faith

Kevin Lewis

June 23, 2011

Economics: A Moral Inquiry with Religious Origins

Benjamin Friedman
American Economic Review, May 2011, Pages 166-170

In contrast to the standard interpretation of the origins of economics out of the secular European Enlightenment of the 18th century, the transition in thinking that we rightly identify with Adam Smith and his contemporaries and followers, which gave us economics as we now know it, was powerfully influenced by then-controversial changes in religious belief in the English-speaking Protestant world in which they lived: in particular, key aspects of the movement away from orthodox Calvinism. Further, those at-the-outset influences of religious thinking not only fostered the subsequent spread of Smithian thinking, especially in America, but shaped the course of its reception. The ultimate result was a variety of fundamental resonances between economic thinking and religious thinking that continue to influence our public discussion of economic issues, and our public debate over economic policy, today.


Challenging Merton's Protestantism-Science Hypothesis: The Historical Impact of Sacerdotal Celibacy on German Science and Scholarship

George Becker
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, June 2011, Pages 351-365

Denominational differences in the number of scientists produced in Germany during the period 1550 to 1900 are linked to the historical impact of Catholic celibate and Protestant noncelibate clergy households. Protestant leadership in science is largely attributable to the development of a new social mobility pattern among descendants of their clergy that enhanced the pastorate's ability to convey cultural and social capital to their marrying offspring, something denied to Catholic clergy. By reference to German historical developments, I show that the contributions of clerical households, far from being limited to the natural sciences, were equally in evidence across most other areas of scholarly endeavor. A discussion of the theoretical implications of these findings provides a comparative analysis of Protestant to Catholic scholarly achievements in general, and of scientific achievements in particular, as well as a critical assessment of Robert K. Merton's theorizing on the subject.


Praying together and staying together: Couple prayer and trust

Nathaniel Lambert et al.
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Three studies examine the relationship between prayer, unity, and trust. Study 1 (N = 29) showed that praying for one's partner predicted objective ratings of trust. Study 2 (N = 210) found a significant relationship between prayer with a partner and relationship trust. This relationship was mediated by couple unity. Study 3 (N = 80) investigated the relationship documented in a 4-week, experimental study. Participants either prayed with and for their partner twice a week for 4 weeks, or were assigned to a positive interaction condition, in which they discussed positive news stories for the same time span. Prayer condition participants reported significantly more unity and trust for their partner than those in the positive interaction control group. Relational unity was again found to mediate the relationship between prayer and trust. These three studies are discussed in the context of an emerging literature on the relational implications of prayer.


Is the importance of religion in daily life related to social trust? Cross-country and cross-state comparisons

Niclas Berggren & Christian Bjørnskov
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

We look at the effect of importance of religion in daily life on social trust, defined as the share of a population that thinks that people in general can be trusted. We make use of new data from the Gallup World Poll for 109 countries and 43 U.S. states. Our empirical results indicate a robust, negative relationship between this measure of religiosity and trust, both internationally and within the U.S. The size of this association increases with the degree of religious diversity.


The effects of deliberations and religious identity on mock jurors' verdicts

Monica Miller et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, July 2011, Pages 517-532

Jurors may be biased toward defendants because of their group status or similarities/differences. Deliberation may minimize bias by forcing jurors to rationalize their decisions. In two experiments, mock jurors read that, at the time of the crime, the defendant was: engaged in Christian prayers, Islamic prayers, or TV watching (control). Study 1 described a crime stereotypically associated with Muslims (bombing a transportation center); Study 2 used a crime associated with fundamentalist Christians (bombing an abortion clinic). Participants gave predeliberation and postdeliberation verdicts. Findings for both studies are similar, despite the stereotypicality of the crime. There was a general leniency effect-the more participants saw themselves as similar to the defendant, the less certain they were of guilt. Deliberation made jurors less likely to convict Muslim and Christian defendants, but not control-group defendants. Religious identity of the defendant had no direct effect on verdicts. Findings have implications for juror bias, crime stereotypicality, and the effects of jury deliberation.


Religious Change and Stability: Seasonality in Church Attendance from the 1940s to the 2000s

Paul Olson & David Beckworth
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, June 2011, Pages 388-396

Using attendance data from a declining Episcopal church and a growing Lutheran church in a medium-sized midwestern city, we explore the issue of seasonality in church attendance from the 1940s to the late 2000s. Our central concern is whether month-to-month variation in church attendance has remained the same or changed over the period of time under consideration. We find remarkable consistency in the overall month-to-month attendance pattern over the course of the past seven decades but less variation in attendance from month to month in more recent decades in both churches. We argue that the findings demonstrate the presence of a "committed core" of church members who attend regularly and the departure of nominal members who have swelled the ranks of the "nones" in recent decades.


A Longitudinal Study of Religious Identity and Participation During Adolescence

Anna Lopez, Virginia Huynh & Andrew Fuligni
Child Development, forthcoming

To examine the development of religious identity during the teenage years, adolescents (N = 477) from Latin American, Asian, and European backgrounds completed questionnaires in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades (10th grade age: M = 15.81, SD = 0.36). Results indicated that religious identity remained stable across high school whereas religious participation declined. Even after controlling for ethnic differences in religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, and generational status, adolescents from Latin American and Asian backgrounds reported higher levels of religious identity and adolescents from Latin American backgrounds reported higher rates of religious participation. Within individual adolescents, changes in religious identity were associated with changes in ethnic and family identities, suggesting important linkages in the development of these social identities during adolescence.


Educational Attainment and Religiosity: Exploring Variations by Religious Tradition

Michael McFarland, Bradley Wright & David Weakliem
Sociology of Religion, Summer 2011, Pages 166-188

This study examines the relationship between educational attainment and various dimensions of religiosity. On the basis of a network closure argument, we hypothesize that the relationship between education and religiosity varies by religious tradition. Analyzing data from the 1972-2006 General Social Survey, we found that educational attainment predicted increased attendance at religious services, decreased levels of prayer, increased inclination to view the Bible as a book of fables, and decreased inclination to view the Bible as the literal word of God. These relationships, however, significantly interacted with religious tradition. Increased education largely resulted in greater religiosity among evangelical Protestants, black Protestants, and Catholics but not among mainline Protestants and the nonaffiliated. Overall, this study shows that education does not uniformly decrease religiosity and highlights the importance of considering religious tradition in future research.


Faith Primary Schools: Better Schools or Better Pupils?

Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva
Journal of Labor Economics, July 2011, Pages 589-635

We estimate the causal effect of attending a state Faith school on primary education achievement in England using administrative student-level data and implementing various strategies to control for students' selection into Faith schooling. Our regressions control for fixed effects in prior achievement and residential postcode to compare pupils who are close residential neighbors and have identical observable ability. We also use information on future school choices to control for preferences for Faith schooling. Results show that pupils progress faster in Faith primary schools, but all of this advantage is explained by sorting into Faith schools according to preexisting characteristics and preferences.


Printing and Protestants: Reforming the Economics of the Reformation

Jared Rubin
California State University Working Paper, May 2011

The causes of the Protestant Reformation have long been debated. This paper attempts to revive and econometrically test the theory that the spread of the Reformation is linked to the spread of the printing press. The proposed causal pathway is that the printing press permitted the ideas of the Reformation to reach a broader audience. I test this hypothesis by analyzing data on the spread of the press and the Reformation at the city level. An econometric analysis which instruments for omitted variable bias suggests that within the Holy Roman Empire, cities within 10 miles of a printing press by 1500 were 38.2 percentage points more likely to be Protestant by 1600. These results are robust, though the effects are weaker, across Western Europe.


Individualistic and Structural Attributions of Poverty in an LDS Sample

Alex North et al.
BYU Working Paper, May 2011

There has been a significant amount of research done on the lay attributions of poverty and the subsequent influence on helping behavior. The purpose of this study was to further the work on how religion mediates poverty attributions by extending the research into an LDS population. A total of 144 BYU-Idaho students filled out an internet based survey. The survey used a five point scale to measure students attributions of poverty. A factor analysis revealed six factors that accounted for 62.9% of the variance, while an ANOVA test showed that individualistic and structural attributions were used more than fatalistic attributions to explain poverty. We hypothesized that individualistic attributions would be more prevalent because of the high Conservative influence in the LDS sample. Our hypothesis was partially supported. It appears that religious influence reduced the effect that political orientation exerted on poverty attributions.


Exacerbating Social Cleavages: The Media's Role in Israel's Religious-Secular Conflict

Matt Evans
Middle East Journal, Spring 2011, Pages 235-251

This article challenges the traditional model of the media as a positive agent for political socialization. The increasing variety of news sources has reversed the role of the media, contributing to growing cultural fragmentation, rather than the unification of nations. One of the most volatile cultural cleavages in countries around the world is the clash between fundamentalist and secular members of the same religion. This work explores the role of the media in societal rifts through a study of the secular and religious press in Israel. The potentially divisive impact of the media has implications for other countries in the Middle East that are also characterized by religious-secular tensions.


Becoming an Atheist in America: Constructing Identity and Meaning from the Rejection of Theism

Jesse Smith
Sociology of Religion, Summer 2011, Pages 215-237

This study explores the identity formation process of self-avowed atheists in the context of American culture. Drawing on data collected from participant observation and 40 individual in-depth interviews with atheists in Colorado, four stages of atheist identity development are presented: the starting point/the ubiquity of theism, questioning theism, rejecting theism, and "coming out" atheist. I argue that an atheist identity is an achieved identity, and one that is constructed in social interaction. Focusing on the interactional processes and narrative accounts of participants, I discuss the process of rejecting the culturally normative belief in God, and the adoption instead, of an identity for which the "theist culture" at large offers no validation. This research illustrates how identification with atheism in America becomes an important aspect of self for those who adopt this label. Further, it makes a qualitative contribution to our incipient understanding of the subjective experience and identities of actual atheists, as well as the dynamics of irreligion and unbelief in America-an area of inquiry within the sociology of religion that is in need of further development.


Praying for Mr. Right? Religion, Family Background, and Marital Expectations Among College Women

Christopher Ellison, Amy Burdette & Norval Glenn
Journal of Family Issues, July 2011, Pages 906-931

This study explores the relationship between multiple aspects of religious involvement - affiliation, church attendance, subjective religiosity - and marital expectations among college women. In addition, the authors investigate whether religious involvement mediates the link between family background and marital expectations. These issues are addressed using data from a nationally representative sample of approximately 1,000 college women surveyed in 2000. Results indicate that the importance of marriage as a personal goal is positively associated with subjective religiosity. The estimated net effects of subjective religiosity are also stronger for women in two-parent families versus those in other family structures. Conservative Protestant women anticipate marrying earlier than others; church attendance and subjective religiosity are also positively related to expectation of earlier marriage. These associations are not contingent on family background. A number of implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Arab Stars, Assyrian Dogs and Greek ‘Angels': How Islamic is Muslim Dream Interpretation?

Elizabeth Sirriyeh
Journal of Islamic Studies, May 2011, Pages 215-233

There is strong Islamic authority from Qurʾān and Sunna supporting the significance of true dreams as divine messages. Consequently, it is not surprising to find that Muslims of all social strata have taken their own and others' dreams seriously and sought to have them interpreted. Types of interpretation may be divided into two main categories: inspirational interpretation undertaken by religious figures claiming extraordinary God-given insight (foremost among them the Prophet and, in later times, Sufi shaykhs) and deductive interpretation requiring the mastery of knowledge of symbolic images seen by the dreamer. Muslim writers compiled numerous books to offer guidance for the deductive interpreter of dreams, the earliest extant work being that of Ibn Qutayba (d. 889). After a theoretical introduction to the subject, the keys to dreams often, but not always, begin with lists of the meanings of religious symbols, notably of God, the prophets, angels, the Qurʾān, and move on to dreams of natural phenomena, humans and animals. The majority of these works draw on material of a recognizably Islamic character, but many also appear to have a considerable heritage that may prove to be derived from ancient Near Eastern dream lore passed on through Jewish, Christian and Persian tradition. A number also draw on the inheritance of the Hellenistic schools, especially the famous dream manual of Artemidorus. This article is concerned with the deductive category of dream interpretation, as represented by the dream symbolism of Muslim dream-books in Arabic, and asks to what extent Muslim authors were able to reconcile it with an Islamic ethical outlook.

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