Are Americans Religious Because They Lack Health Care?

A report suggests anxiety and inequality drive us toward faith

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Are Americans religious because they don't have health care? A recent study by Gregory Paul is overturning a lot of assumptions about religion--arguing, for example, that being religious doesn't necessarily line up with being moral. But Guardian writer Sue Blackmore homes in on the particularly provocative idea that inequality, suffering, and inadequate government assistance drive Americans toward religion:

[Gregory Paul] argues that religion is not a deep-seated or inherited tendency. It is a crutch to which people turn when they are under extreme stress, "a natural invention of human minds in response to a defective habitat". Americans, he says, suffer appalling stress and anxiety due to the lack of universal health care, the competitive economic environment, and huge income inequalities, and under these conditions belief in a supernatural creator and reliance on religious observance provides relief. By contrast, the middle class majorities of western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have secure enough lives not to seek help from a supernatural creator.

Is it true that anxiety in America breeds religion?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.