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Friday, 8 October 2021

How Religion Keeps the Poor Poor.

Religious belief really does seem to draw the sting of poverty | The Economist

The problem with religion is that it teaches poor people to accept their 'place' in society and not to aspire to something better. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from a piece of research carried our recently by a group of sociologists and psychologists led by Jana B. Berkessel of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany.

The team found that, contrary to accepted ideas, people with a low socioeconomic status (SES) in a developed country carry a higher psychological burden than their counterparts in developing countries. The assumption had been that the psychological burden would ease as society developed and became more prosperous. However the research showed that there was an inverse relationship between the psychological burden of SES and the religiosity of the society and there was a similar relationship between religiosity and economic development.

In other words, as society develops economically, so religiosity falls, removing the religious norms that ease the burden of low SES.

This conclusion came as a result of statistical analysis of three surveys covering 3.3 million people in 156 countries.

This teaching to accept your place is not confined to Christianity either but can be found in almost all major religions. The team say:
Among the religious norms that enable cultural groups to thrive is a set relevant for SES. That set eases the burden of lower SES (“The poor are admitted into Paradise before the rich, by five hundred years;” Vol. 5, Book 37, Hadith 4261, The Qur’an; “For those who are poor and destitute; May I turn into all things they could need;” Ch. 3, Verse 10, Bodhisattvacharyavatara) and it does so in part by casting a bad light on higher SES [“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God;” Matthew 19:24, The Bible, “The demoniac person thinks: So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more;” Ch. 16, Verse 13, Bhagavad-Gita (16, 29)]
Their open access paper is published in PNAS:
According to a fundamental assumption in the social sciences, the burden of lower socioeconomic status (SES) is more severe in developing nations. In contrast to this assumption, recent research has shown that the burden of lower SES is less—not more—severe in developing nations. In three large-scale global data sets, we show that national religiosity can explain this puzzling finding. Developing nations are more religious, and most world religions uphold norms that, in part, function to ease the burden of lower SES and to cast a bad light on higher SES. In times of declining religiosity, this finding is a call to scientists and policymakers to monitor the increasingly harmful effects of lower SES and its far-reaching social consequences.

Lower socioeconomic status (SES) harms psychological well-being, an effect responsible for widespread human suffering. This effect has long been assumed to weaken as nations develop economically. Recent evidence, however, has contradicted this fundamental assumption, finding instead that the psychological burden of lower SES is even greater in developed nations than in developing ones. That evidence has elicited consternation because it suggests that economic development is no cure for the psychological burden of lower SES. So, why is that burden greatest in developed nations? Here, we test whether national religiosity can explain this puzzle. National religiosity is particularly low in developed nations. Consequently, developed nations lack religious norms that may ease the burden of lower SES. Drawing on three different data sets of 1,567,204, 1,493,207, and 274,393 people across 156, 85, and 92 nations, we show that low levels of national religiosity can account for the greater burden of lower SES in developed nations. This finding suggests that, as national religiosity continues to decline, lower SES will become increasingly harmful for well-being—a societal change that is socially consequential and demands political attention.

It looks as though both Seneca and Napoleon were right in that religion is used by the ruling class to keep the poor happy and contented so they never aspire to anything better. The priesthoods are complicit in this deception in return for protection and special status within the state.

This much was evident in the repose of religions to a Pew Research forecast a few years ago that support for religions will grow in coming years as the populations of third-world and developing countries is set to increase. They were jubilant at the though that the number of poor people in the world was going to increase and that they would benefit from this growth, part of which, with their teachings against contraception and family planning and for female subservience, they were responsible for.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. very true --- I wish more people understood this...

  2. very true --- I wish more people understood this...


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