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That Old-Time Religion ?


I just finished reading “Religion’s Sudden Decline:  What is Causing It and What Comes Next” by Ronald Inglehart in 2021.  He is a professor at the University of Michigan.  The book is a scholarly work and, as such, is not easy reading.  The first half of the book is full of references to the work of other professors, but the back half has interesting nuggets.  Here are some:

  1.  It is common knowledge that church attendance is the U.S. has been falling rapidly.

  2. Church attendance is decreasing, but that shouldn’t be confused with religiosity.  You can be a “true believer” without attending regular church services.

  3. Religion is needed in countries with short lifespans and high infant mortality.  In those countries, sex is for procreation only, and women must stay home to care for the next generation.  These are called pro-fertility countries.  High fertility is necessary to maintain a stable population.  Religion is less needed in high income countries, like the U.S. where religiosity as been dropping rapidly, especially since 2007.  These are called individual-choice countries.

  4.  If I could ask the author one question, it would be — why do the countries of Central America experience short lifespans and high infant mortality, while their populations are exploding and forcing them across the Rio Grande?

  5. Not surprisingly, religiosity remains high in Muslim countries, as well as Latin America and Africa.  Religiosity is growing fastest in ex-communist countries, where living conditions had been difficult, and religion was discouraged.

  6. Confucianism does not teach an afterlife.  You get your rewards and penalties during life.

  7.  There is less need for religion during good economic times.  Divorce, abortion, and homosexuality thrive during good economic times.

  8.  When the Republican Party co-opted Christian conservatives in the 1970’s, progressives felt abandoned and deserted, contributing to falling church attendance.

Is it wrong to wish for a strong economy?

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