Monday, November 23, 2009

Sociology: Should you add Satan to your Board of Directors?

Sociology: Should you add Satan to your Board of Directors?

Belief in hell spurs economic growth?

In "Satan, the great motivator: The curious economic effects of religion," Michael Fitzgerald
(Boston Globe, November 15, 2009), advises,
A pair of Harvard researchers recently examined 40 years of data from dozens of countries, trying to sort out the economic impact of religious beliefs or practices. They found that religion has a measurable effect on developing economies - and the most powerful influence relates to how strongly people believe in hell.
Of course, these researchers either have it all wrong or else they are gravely misreported.

Belief in hell is a function of the belief that what we do matters and that the death of the body does not end everything for us. On a mundane level, if what we do matters, we can improve our economic lot by focusing on useful actions rather than useless or harmful ones. Of course, when it comes to matters of eternity, well ... consult whatever responsible religious authorities you think can help you.

We also learn,
Barro and McCleary, for their part, think religion and policy are difficult to mix. McCleary says the lesson of their results isn't that governments should boost religion, but simply that they should recognize it has some value, and avoid regulating it too heavily.
Well, government had - in my view - better avoid regulating religion "too heavily" (?!). Recent Canadian experience suggests that government should get out of the area entirely. "Human rights" commissions here have caused nothing but trouble in recent years when they meddle in matters of eternity, not time. But good citizens are now fighting back and slowly forcing the government back to its proper - and much needed - sphere of influence.

Some of us - even though we are not Americans - sometimes Google the US First Amendment, for comfort:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As one of the Canadian free speech journalists, (of whom there are now many, glad to say), I am grateful for the good citizens worldwide who wish us well in dealing with the current "social engineering of religion" menace* - and we will help you too, when you are attacked.

* A big problem has been attacks on the right of Christian churches to teach their members that the gay lifestyle is not acceptable for their members of good faith. Just so you know, the big gay rights group, Egale, is not backing this agenda. The people who launch persecutions tend to be disgruntled individuals. Canada has freedom of religion. People who do not agree with their denomination's position are free to join a denomination that thinks otherwise, and there are several here.

If you are interested in this problem, see Shakedown or Lights Out or Tyranny of Nice.