New Study Shows God Can Be Pushed Aside By Better Government Services

Results are the same all over the world

A study conducted by researchers of three universities found that individuals are usually less religious when their government offers better social services like education, healthcare, and welfare. This study, “Religion as an Exchange System: The Interchangeability of God and Government in a Provider Role,” proved that if the benefits of religion can be gained from a source other than religion, the attractiveness of practicing a religion is reduced. The study has three authors, Ed Diener of the University of Utah and the University of Virginia and Chen Li and Miron Zuckerman, both of the University of Rochester. Zuckerman has earlier co-authored a study where it is shown that intelligent people are less religious.

The authors determined these findings can be applied not only in the United States but also across the world. The research was done from data extracted from World Bank, Gallup, US Census, and World Fact Book. Services provided by the government were measured by analyzing the amount of money spent by each nation or country on education and health. These figures were compared with the data gleaned from religion. The study included 155 countries and 455,104 people.

The numbers were adjusted to accommodate some factors like differences in quality of life and inequality of income. These helped researchers to separate the all-important relationship which exists between a given population's religiosity and government services. These findings were published on April 12. It was confirmed that people's proclivity to be religious is inversely proportional to government services.

To prove their assertion, the authors cite an American example. They took a time slice, from 2008 to 2013, when there were excellent government services. Religiosity among the people decreased about a year into this period. It was noted by the researchers that “If a secular entity provides what people need, they will be less likely to seek help from God or other supernatural entities. Government is the most likely secular provider."

The authors proved the above by cross-sectional analysis. Two examples were provided. One study was based in the United States and the other in other countries around the world. It was shown that lower religious levels are connected to better services provided by the government.

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