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Atheists and (economic) foxholes

Church attendance rises when the economy slips:

Every day, the economist Daniel Hungerman looks at the graph that hangs above his desk at the University of Notre Dame. One jagged line goes down and up. This is America’s gross domestic product since 1972. Another jagged line goes up and down. This is the religiosity of Americans over the same period, as measured by church attendance. The lines show an almost exact inverse correlation.

“You can see as clear as day a negative relationship in this picture,” says Hungerman, who threw the chart together for fun. “When the business cycle goes up, religious attendance goes down, and vice versa. The good mystery is why.”

By Ezra Klein  |  July 27, 2010; 4:43 PM ET
 
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Comments

I wonder if this really applies to atheists. As an atheist (and with knowledge of some of fellow non-believers) I don't know anyone who decided to start going to church. However, I would be the people who are somewhat religious already, those who consider themselves believers start going more often. So instead of just once a month, maybe they go twice, or the twice yearly people (Xmas and Easter) start going once a month. I don't think this graph would have anything to do with atheism or the overall decline of religiosity in America. It is simply attendance issues.

Posted by: Okobojicat | July 27, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

And you get paid for what exactly?


Your young, maybe someday you will write something intelligent....

Posted by: 2010Rout | July 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Why? Something along the lines of "clinging to their Religion and their Guns" comes to mind...

Posted by: Beavker | July 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of foxholes...

Just before formally charged with ethics violations, New York Democrat Charles Rangel introduced H.R. 5741, the Universal National Service Act, which requires "all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, and for other purposes."

A peacetime draft might actually be useful: it would force people of different ages, backgrounds, and incomes to mingle and to learn the discipline and order of an empowered majority. I hope the Obama/Pelosi Regime pursues Rangel's bill vigorously.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 27, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

After reading HR 5741, try to picture Ezra Klein and Dylan Matthews at Parris Island.
See http://www.mcrdpi.usmc.mil/training/crucible/index.asp for details.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 27, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"the good mystery is why."

when people have money, they can entertain themselves with material pleasures...reassure themselves of their status through the things they have..., and "keep up" in their community.
when they lose all of that, the moorings of their life are gone.
when material pleasures have disappeared, one can almost feel forced to contemplate more spiritual questions about the meaning of their life, and wade into a deeper conversation.
and so, that would be a time when people would turn to religion or spirituality.
also, people feel far less brave when things are not going well for them, and so they often need a refuge....a place where they can feel a sense of hope...and a place where they might find answers as to why their life appears to have taken a turn for the worse.
also, people need a sense of community and belonging, in tough times....and a place of worship will hopefully accept you, even and oftentimes, when you are spiritually confused and bedraggled.
a person who has already lost faith and hope, or has anger.... might keep away....but i think many people wander into churches, for support, affirmation, help and lovingkindness. a place to feel connected to others.
and....if someone feels that their sudden change of luck has been because they have not been a very good person, well, they can hopefully get some support, in a community which will be forgiving and spiritually transformative.
places of worship can also offer counseling, free activities and food and friendship.

Posted by: jkaren | July 27, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

It's actually a variation of the Laffer curve. When you don't have any money you don't have to worry about the church hassling you for donations, tithing or indulgences- instead you get free stuff! Not to mention the whole thing...

I attend church over the internet. Here's my favorite sermon.
http://vimeo.com/10601416

Posted by: staticvars | July 27, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"Just before formally charged with ethics violations, New York Democrat Charles Rangel introduced H.R. 5741, the Universal National Service Act, which requires "all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, and for other purposes."

So healthcare is a right and liberty is not?

I wish Rangel would focus on real problems, such as corrupt politicians not paying taxes.

Posted by: justin84 | July 27, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

staticvars

i watched part of the video you shared, and it was interesting....it reminded me of a buddhist abbot, who suggested putting a magnet on the refrigerator, that said, "abandon hope."
coming to a place of acceptance and gratitude, is better than hoping for things that may or may not come to pass in a future that has not yet arrived.

Posted by: jkaren | July 28, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the first commenter Okobojicat. There's a pretty big difference between being an atheist and skipping church, mosque, temple, etc. because you have something better to do.

Posted by: Neal3 | July 28, 2010 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Correlation is not necessarily indicative of causation.

Posted by: GordonHide1 | July 28, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish" - Unknown

"Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer." Unknown

Posted by: 1FLWB2 | July 28, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Going to church is one way of managing anxiety. During recessions, anxiety goes up, and so does church attendance.

Something else that's correlated with recessions: consumption of alcohol.

http://www.beeronomics.org/papers/2A%20Anderson.pdf

Posted by: Bloix | July 28, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

The old saying used to be that the worst moment for an atheist was when he felt happy he had no one to thank.

Well, for a theist the worst moment is when he feels sad and has no one to blame.

Posted by: tomcammarata | July 28, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Religion has more appeal to desperate people. When the economy is down we have more people in desperation, therefore higher church attendance. What's the mystery?

Posted by: Sertorius3 | July 29, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

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