Religious state

Kevin Lewis

September 11, 2012

Beyond Work Ethic: Religion, Individual and Political Preferences

Christoph Basten & Frank Betz
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure, and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. We use a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design to exploit a historical quasi-experiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a hitherto homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to adopt Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces referenda voting for more leisure by 12, for redistribution by 7, and for government intervention by 6 percentage points. These preferences translate into higher per capita income as well as greater income inequality.


Trust in a "Fallen World": The Case of Protestant Theological Conservatism

Lynn Hempel, Todd Matthews & John Bartkowski
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2012, Pages 522-541

Important questions remain about religion-based variations in the propensity to trust. A new perspective on the religion-trust nexus is proposed by examining Protestant theological conservatism as a moral framework reflected in personal convictions about scripture (the authoritativeness of the Bible), sin (beliefs in human depravity and the existence of hell), and salvation (the need for a born-again experience to be saved). Findings indicate that personal commitment to this framework is negatively related to the propensity to trust unknown others, net of other religious factors (religious affiliation and involvement). Commitment to this moral framework also suppresses the positive relationship between religious attendance and generalized trust among Christians. The findings highlight a considerable negative relationship between Protestant theological conservatism and generalized trust, while further underscoring the crucial importance of analyzing belief systems, when investigating complex linkages between religious participation, faith, and civic life.


The cultural salience of moral character and virtue declined in twentieth century America

Pelin Kesebir & Selin Kesebir
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

In a large corpus of American books, we tracked how frequently words related to moral excellence and virtue appeared over the twentieth century. Considering the well-established cultural trend in the USA toward greater individualism and its implications for the moral domain, we predicted that terms related to morality and virtue would appear with diminishing frequency in American books. Two studies supported our predictions: Study 1 showed a decline in the use of general moral terms such as virtue, decency and conscience, throughout the twentieth century. In Study 2, we examined the appearance frequency of 50 virtue words (e.g. honesty, patience, compassion) and found a significant decline for 74% of them. Overall, our findings suggest that during the twentieth century, moral ideals and virtues have largely waned from the public conversation.


Concealing to reveal: The informational role of Islamic dress

David Patel
Rationality and Society, August 2012, Pages 295-323

After the resurgence of headscarves throughout the Muslim world, some women adopted ‘more fundamentalist' clothing styles, such as full-face veils, or began pietistic social movements. What explains this escalation and increasing diversity of Islamic dress and behavior? This paper analyzes how the spread of headscarves and Islamic dress since the 1970s undermined it as a signal of piety, which is a valuable yet hidden characteristic in many social interactions. As less pious women adopted the headscarf for myriad reasons, pious women adopted increasingly conservative dress and behavior to credibly signal their piety to uninformed observers and improve their marriage prospects. The spread of ‘fundamentalist' behaviors does not necessarily imply a societal shift in piety, ideology, or support for political Islamists.


The impact of charitable subsidies on religious giving and attendance: Evidence from panel data

Barış Yörük
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

In the United States, charitable contributions can be deducted from taxable income making the price of giving inversely related to the marginal tax rate. The existing literature documents that charitable giving is very responsive to tax subsidies, but often ignores the spillover effects of such policies. This paper investigates the spillover effects of charitable subsidies on religious participation using a newly available individual-level panel data. Understanding these spillover effects may be quite important, given the existing literature that links religiosity to several economically important social behaviors. The results show that religious giving and participation are complements. Increasing the price of religious giving decreases not only religious contributions but also religious attendance. The implied cross-price elasticity of religious participation with respect to the after-tax price of giving is -0.27. Furthermore, a 1% increase in the amount of religious contributions is associated with a 0.4% increase in religious attendance. These results are robust under several different specifications and highlight the positive externalities created by charitable subsidies. They also have important implications for testing the validity of existing economic models of religious participation and giving.


Differentiating Islamophobia: Introducing a New Scale to Measure Islamoprejudice and Secular Islam Critique

Roland Imhoff & Julia Recker
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Since 2001 there has been a steadily increasing awareness of discrimination against Muslims based on their religion. Despite the widespread use of the neologism Islamophobia to refer to this phenomenon, this term has been harshly criticized for confounding prejudiced views of Muslims with a legitimate critique of Muslim practices based on secular grounds. In the current research a scale was developed to differentiate Islamoprejudice (based on the influential Islamophobia definition of the British Runnymede Trust) and Secular Critique of Islam. Across two studies, Islamoprejudice was related to explicit and implicit prejudice, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation whereas Secular Critique was unrelated to any forms of prejudice but negatively related to religiosity and authoritarianism. The two scales were mostly independent or only moderately related. Importantly, the new Islamoprejudice scale outperformed all other scales in predicting actual opposition versus support for a heatedly debated, newly built mosque. These results demonstrate the necessity to differentiate between Islamoprejudice and Secular Critique in future research on attitudes towards Islam.


Religiosity and self-control: When the going gets tough, the religious get self-regulating

Kaylyn Watterson & Brian Giesler
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, August 2012, Pages 193-205

Prior research has indicated that religiosity and ability to self-regulate are positively associated, but this relationship has yet to be addressed experimentally. To investigate whether and under what conditions higher religiosity may be associated with greater self-regulation, 75 participants either high (n = 38) or low (n = 37) in level of religiosity undertook a difficult and frustrating task requiring self-control (i.e., an unsolvable anagrams task). Before doing so, half of the participants performed a self-regulatory resource depleting task, whereas the other half proceeded directly to the difficult anagrams task. Time spent persisting on the anagrams task constituted the study's primary dependent variable. Level of religiosity interacted with level of self-regulatory resources such that when participants had not been depleted, level of religiosity was unrelated to task persistence. However, when participants' self-regulatory resources had first been depleted, participants high in religiosity persisted significantly longer on the anagrams task compared with participants low in religiosity, an effect that remained significant even after controlling for potential confounds. This research suggests highly religious individuals possess greater self-regulatory ability, particularly under circumstances of reduced self-regulatory resources. Greater self-regulatory ability, in turn, may help explain the health benefits that religious individuals often enjoy.


Subsistence and the Evolution of Religion

Hervey Peoples & Frank Marlowe
Human Nature, September 2012, Pages 253-269

We present a cross-cultural analysis showing that the presence of an active or moral High God in societies varies generally along a continuum from lesser to greater technological complexity and subsistence productivity. Foragers are least likely to have High Gods. Horticulturalists and agriculturalists are more likely. Pastoralists are most likely, though they are less easily positioned along the productivity continuum. We suggest that belief in moral High Gods was fostered by emerging leaders in societies dependent on resources that were difficult to manage and defend without group cooperation. These leaders used the concept of a supernatural moral enforcer to manipulate others into cooperating, which resulted in greater productivity. Reproductive success would accrue most to such leaders, but the average reproductive success of all individuals in the society would also increase with greater productivity. Supernatural enforcement of moral codes maintained social cohesion and allowed for further population growth, giving one society an advantage in competition with others.


Religion in Politics: How Does Inequality Affect Public Secularization?

Ekrem Karakoç & Birol BaÈ™kan
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

This study investigates the factors that affect variations in secular attitudes toward politics. The literature suggests that modernization may weaken traditional bonds with religious adherence and the state can assume an important role in this endeavor through mass education, industrialization, and other factors. However, this explanation is incomplete in light of the resurgence of religious movements. This study argues that economic inequality increases the positive evaluation of the role of religion in politics through its effect on religiosity and participation in religious organizations. Employing a multilevel analysis on 40 countries, this study demonstrates that inequality decreases attitudes toward support for two dimensions of public secularization: the secularization of public office holders and the influence of religious leaders in politics. Simultaneously, the effect of modernization on these attitudes varies. The results also suggest that although inequality diminishes secular attitudes of all socioeconomic groups, its effect is nonlinear, with a greater effect on the poor.


From Empty Pews to Empty Cradles: Fertility Decline Among European Catholics

Eli Berman, Laurence Iannaccone & Giuseppe Ragusa
NBER Working Paper, August 2012

Catholic countries of Europe pose a demographic puzzle - fertility is unprecedentedly low (total fertility=1.3) despite low female labor force participation. We model three channels of religious effects on demand for children: through changing norms, reduced market wages, and reduced costs of childrearing. We estimate their effects using new panel data on church attendance and clergy employment for thirteen European countries from 1960-2000, spanning the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Catholic theology is uniform across countries. Yet service varied considerably across countries and over time, especially before the Council, reflecting differences in Church provision of education, health, welfare and other social services. We use differential declines in service provision -- measured by nuns/capita -- to identify its effect on fertility, controlling for secular trends. They are large: 300 to 400 children per nun. Reduced religiosity (measured by church attendance) has no effect for Protestants, but predicts fertility decline for Catholics. The data suggest that service provision and religiosity complement each other - a finding consistent with preferential provision of services to church attendees. Nuns outperform priests in predicting fertility, suggesting that the childrearing cost channel dominates theology and norms.


Emotional expressiveness during worship services and life satisfaction: Assessing the influence of race and religious affiliation

Neal Krause & David Hayward
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, forthcoming

The purpose of this study is to see if an emotional expressive worship style is associated with life satisfaction. Our study model contains the following core relationships: (1) blacks are more likely than whites to worship in conservative Protestant congregations; (2) members of conservative congregations and blacks will attend church services more often; (3) blacks and conservative Protestants are more likely than either whites or members of other congregations to openly express their emotions during worship services; (4) individuals who express their emotions during church services will be more likely say they worship in a highly cohesive congregation; (5) people who worship in highly cohesive congregations will generalise this sense of connectedness to people outside their place of worship; and (6) those who feel closely connected with all people will experience a greater sense of life satisfaction. Finding from a nationwide survey provide support for each of these relationships.


Serotonergic and tryptaminergic overstimulation on refeeding implicated in "enlightenment" experiences

Paul Joseph
Medical Hypotheses, forthcoming

The classic "enlightenment" experience is that of Siddhārtha Gautama (a.k.a. Buddha) who fasted and meditated intensely for years but failed to attain his goal of "enlightenment." He gave up his fast, ate rice pudding, and immediately meditated again, whereupon he attained "enlightenment." The hypothesis is that this altered state was a symptom of refeeding after prolonged starvation resulting from the combination of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibition followed by tryptophan and carbohydrate intake. Intense fasting inhibited Gautama's MAO activity; eating rice pudding constituted an intake of dietary tryptophan with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates trigger insulin release, which increases unbound tryptophan while reducing levels of competing amino acids at the blood-brain barrier. These effects allow significant amounts of tryptophan into the brain, where it converts into serotonin. Without MAO, serotonin does not degrade, and methyl-transferases convert excess tryptophan and serotonin into endogenous psychoactive tryptamines. The endogenous serotonin and tryptamines cause altered mental states. The absence of psychoactive substances and the prolonged fasting gives this experience its perceived spiritual power. Subjects may have no option but to assume that their experiences were due to either divine intervention or to values and techniques that took many years of hard work to acquire. If validated, this mechanism implicates a specific effect of refeeding syndrome as the trigger for these altered states, and offers an approach to study this phenomenon in untrained subjects from within a scientific framework.


Social Customs and Demographic Change: The Case of Godparenthood in Catholic Europe

Guido Alfani, Vincent Gourdon & Agnese Vitali
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2012, Pages 482-504

This article analyzes social norms regulating the selection of godparents in Italy and France. Based on Vatican statistics and European Values Study responses, the vast majority of children in Catholic Europe are baptized and birth rituals are considered important even by nonbelievers. Moreover, the dominant custom of selecting godparents from among kinsmen is a recent development, based on historical data. A new survey about the selection of godparents in Italy and France, conducted for this study, shows that godparents are chosen not for religious, but for social-relational reasons. Selection of kinsmen is the norm, with uncles and aunts being the majority choice. For Italy, choice determinants are explored by means of multinomial regressions. The results are contrasted with demographic change to show that in lowest-low fertility countries current godparenthood models are bound to disappear.


Outsourcing punishment to God: Beliefs in divine control reduce earthly punishment

Kristin Laurin et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 August 2012, Pages 3272-3281

The sanctioning of norm-transgressors is a necessary - though often costly - task for maintaining a well-functioning society. Prior to effective and reliable secular institutions for punishment, large-scale societies depended on individuals engaging in ‘altruistic punishment' - bearing the costs of punishment individually, for the benefit of society. Evolutionary approaches to religion suggest that beliefs in powerful, moralizing Gods, who can distribute rewards and punishments, emerged as a way to augment earthly punishment in large societies that could not effectively monitor norm violations. In five studies, we investigate whether such beliefs in God can replace people's motivation to engage in altruistic punishment, and their support for state-sponsored punishment. Results show that, although religiosity generally predicts higher levels of punishment, the specific belief in powerful, intervening Gods reduces altruistic punishment and support for state-sponsored punishment. Moreover, these effects are specifically owing to differences in people's perceptions that humans are responsible for punishing wrongdoers.


Experiments in Islamic microfinance

Mohamed El-Komi & Rachel Croson
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Microfinance has been identified as an important tool in increasing the productivity of the poor and in aiding economic development. However, a large proportion of the poor are practicing Muslims, and are thus unable to take advantage of traditional microfinance contracts which involve the payment of interest. This paper describes and experimentally tests Islamic-compliant microfinance products in the context of information asymmetry and costly state verification. We find significantly higher compliance rates for the Islamic-compliant contracts (profit-sharing and joint venture) than for the traditional contract (interest-based). We believe that there is great promise for these types of loans in the microfinance context, for both Muslims and non-Muslims.


Testing the impact of the Islamic veil on intergroup attitudes and host community acculturation orientations toward Arab Muslims

Shaha El-Geledi & Richard Bourhis
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, September 2012, Pages 694-706

Two studies were conducted to examine the impact of the Islamic veil on ethnic attitudes and acculturation orientations toward Arab Muslims. Using computer-generated photos, study 1 investigated Quebec Francophone (N = 76) attitudes toward the Islamic veil. Results revealed that undergraduates had the least favorable attitudes toward a woman wearing a niqab followed by one wearing the hijab, while favorable attitudes were held toward a woman dressed in western clothing. In Study 2, the same female experimenter distributed survey questionnaires to Quebec Francophone undergraduates in the following experimental conditions: (1) control condition, experimenter wearing western clothing with Francophone name (n = 86); (2) experimenter with an Arab Muslim name wearing western clothing (n = 83); (3) experimenter wearing a hijab with an Arab Muslim name (n = 81); and (4) experimenter wearing a niqab with an Arab Muslim name (n = 95). Attitudes toward Arab Muslims were affected by the dress code of the experimenter, but not in the expected direction. Participants expressed more favorable attitudes toward Arab Muslims in the niqab condition than in the control condition, a result partially accounted by a counterstereotype effect. Results showed that the four experimental conditions did not affect endorsement of five out of six acculturation orientations toward Arab Muslims suggesting the stability of host community acculturation orientations under religious prime manipulations.


The Effect of Religious-Based Mentoring on Educational Attainment: More than Just a Spiritual High?

Lance Erickson & James Phillips
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2012, Pages 568-587

Although research has found a positive relationship between various forms of adolescent religious involvement and educational outcomes, little research has examined connections to educational attainment. Using a nationally representative sample of youth (the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health-Add Health), we examine the extent to which adolescent religiosity facilitates educational attainment (i.e., high school completion and college enrollment) and whether informal mentorships formed during adolescence with religious and nonreligious adults can help explain the link between adolescent religious involvement and educational attainment. The findings confirm that, like academic outcomes, religious youth are more likely to complete high school and enroll in college even when controlling for other individual and interpersonal factors that affect educational attainment. Furthermore, informal mentorships, particularly those with adults who have official religious positions (e.g., priest, minister, rabbi) play an important role in college enrollment.


Religion and End-of-Life Treatment Preferences: Assessing the Effects of Religious Denomination and Beliefs

Shane Sharp, Deborah Carr & Cameron Macdonald
Social Forces, September 2012, Pages 275-298

We use Wisconsin Longitudinal Study data (n = 2,678) to assess the effects of religious denomination and ideology on end-of-life treatment preferences in two hypothetical terminal illness scenarios: physical pain and severe cognitive impairment. We found no statistically significant differences when comparing traditionally defined religious denominational groups (i.e., conservative, moderate and liberal Protestants; Catholics; other religions; no religion). However, when we considered the intersection of broad denominational group and adherence to Christian fundamentalist beliefs, we found that fundamentalist Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants were significantly more likely than their nonfundamentalist counterparts to desire life-extending treatments in both scenarios. These effects were fully explained by beliefs about quality of life and religious control over medical decisions. We end with a discussion of the study's theoretical and policy implications.


Patterns of Implicit and Explicit Attitudes in Children and Adults: Tests in the Domain of Religion

Larisa Heiphetz, Elizabeth Spelke & Mahzarin Banaji
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Among the most replicated results in social cognition is the split between explicit and implicit attitudes; adults demonstrate weaker group-based preferences on explicit rather than implicit measures. However, the developmental origins of this pattern remain unclear. If implicit attitudes develop over a protracted period of time, children should not demonstrate the implicit preferences observed among adults. Additionally, unlike adults, children may report group-based preferences due to their lesser concern with social desirability. In Study 1, Christian adults showed the expected pattern of robust implicit preference but no explicit preference. In 4 additional experiments, 6- to 8-year-old children whose parents identified them as Christian viewed characters described as belonging to 2 starkly different religious groups ("strong religious difference") or 2 relatively similar religious groups ("weak religious difference"). Participants then completed explicit and implicit (IAT) measures of attitude toward Christians and either Hindus (Study 2) or Jews (Studies 3-5). Three main results emerged. First, like adults, children showed significant implicit pro-Christian preferences across all studies. Second, unlike adults, children in the "strong religious difference" case reported preferences of approximately the same magnitude as their implicit attitudes (i.e., no dissociation). Third, even in the "weak religious difference" case, children showed implicit pro-Christian preferences (although, like adults, their explicit attitudes were not sensitive to intergroup difference). These data suggest that the seeds of implicit religious preferences are sown early and that children's explicit preferences are influenced by the social distance between groups.


Religion and the Acceptability of White-Collar Crime: A Cross-National Analysis

Katie Corcoran, David Pettinicchio & Blaine Robbins
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2012, Pages 542-567

This article examines whether shared religious beliefs and religious social relationships (Durkheim) and belief in a personal, moral God (Stark) negatively affect attitudes toward the acceptability of white-collar crime. In addition, using a large cross-national sample and estimating multilevel models, we test whether effects are conditional on modernization and religious contexts characterized by belief in an impersonal or amoral God. Shared religious beliefs and the importance of God in one's life are negatively related to the acceptability of white-collar crime. These effects, however, weaken in religious contexts characterized by belief in an impersonal or amoral God as do the effects of religious social relationships and belonging to a religious organization; modernization, on the other hand, does not have a moderating effect. In short, religious belief is associated with lower acceptance of white-collar crime and certain types of religious contexts condition this relationship.


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