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"Which religion is best for the economy? God knows"
By Alison Beard ("," December 16, 2002)

In 1904 and 1905, sociologist Max Weber published a two-part study arguing that economic success and religion were intertwined.

"A glance at the occupational statistics of any country . . . brings to light. . . the fact that business leaders and owners of capital, as well as the higher grades of skilled labour . . . areoverwhelmingly Protestant," Weber wrote.
He went on to argue that the "Protestant work ethic" was a main force behind modern capitalism, while Catholic doctrines muted economic growth.

Nearly a century later, academics are putting Weber to the test, employing modern scientific analysis in an effort to prove - or disprove - his theories.

One of the most interesting studies I've found on the topic is a working paper from three professors associated with the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

"People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes" analyses the correlations between religion and attitudes about six issues that have been proven to affect economic growth - willingness to co-operate, support for women's rights, trust in government, adherence to legal rules, support for the market economy, and belief in thrift.
It builds on previous studies that have linked slow economic development in primarily Catholic countries to some of the religion's characteristics, including perceived intolerance, aversion to borrowing and emphasising worship to the detriment of human relationships.

But the authors - Luigi Zingales at the University of Chicago, Paola Sapienza at Northwestern University and Luigi Guiso at the University of Sassari - take a broader approach. Instead of focusing on economic outcomes, which can be generated by other factors, they focus on attitudes, divined from a World Values Survey of people in 66 countries.
Controlling for respondents' country, health, age, sex, education, income and perceived social status, the professors examine not only Catholics and Protestants but also Jews, Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists and atheists.
They also explore whether there is a difference between the opinions of those brought up in a religious households and those who are still active in their religion.

Their primary conclusion: Religion is generally good for the global economy and financial markets. "Religious people trust others more, trust the government and the legal system more, are less willing to break the law and are more likely to believe that markets' outcomes are fair," the authors write.

At the same time, religion can have negative effects. Religious people have mixed opinions on some market mechanisms, including incentives, competition and private property. And they tend to be intolerant and less supportive of women's rights, which often leads to reduced work-force participation, hurting the economy.

This brings us to a central question that most readers will want answered: Which of the world's major religions is most conducive to economic growth? Unlike Weber, the authors take no definitive stance. Instead, they present findings from which readers may draw their own conclusions.

Although regular churchgoers and temple attendees generally place more trust in their fellow citizens, the authors found that people raised in Catholic, Hindu and Moslem homes displayed lower trust levels.

Trust in government, police and the armed forces increases with religious participation, except among Buddhists. The effect is strongest for Hindus and Moslems, whose trust is also boosted by religious upbringings. Catholics and Protestants seem to gain trust only through church attendance.

On average, religious people are more likely to obey laws, but there were gradations in their responses to different scenarios. Jews were least willing to cheat on taxes, followed by Protestants, while Protestants and Buddhists were most likely to balk at accepting a bribe.

When it comes to market mechanisms, people of different religions have vastly different opinions. Protestants and Hindus are quite willing to trade equality for incentives, but Jews and Moslems are typically not. Protestants, Catholics and Hindus support private ownership, but Moslems don't. Catholics are the biggest supporters of competition, while Moslems and Hindus denounce it.

Only Catholics believe that saving money is an important goal. This is "somewhat at odds with Weber's claim that the Protestant religion has favoured the development of capitalism through its emphasis on thrift," the authors comment.

"On average, Christian religions are more positively associated with attitudes that are conducive to economic growth, while Islam is negatively associated," they add. "But the ranking between the two main Christian denominations is less clear."

The authors stop short of declaring whether Weber is right or wrong for other reasons, as well. "We need to investigate the relative importance of the attitudes studied for economic growth [and] to make a stronger case that the statistical relations observed are causal," they said.

Even in 2002, we need more research.

Evangelical Chaplains Charge Navy With Bias
By Hanna Rosin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 9, 2000; Page A02

Landlocked in Omaha, Greg DeMarco sweetened his youth by dreaming of the sea and the heavens. At the time, he saw only one way to navigate both: by signing up as a Navy chaplain. After all, Southern Baptist preachers and Navy sailors seemed to him cut from the same cloth--pro-Vietnam War, pro-family, faithful to country and God.

But 15 years in his chosen profession have made him wiser. By career's end, he'd realized the preacher side of him suffocates in the sailors' company.

So last month, DeMarco joined 10 fellow chaplains in a class action lawsuit that claims the Navy discriminates against evangelical Christian preachers like him.

The suit alleges that Navy brass effectively run a "religious patronage system," favoring the denominations they belong to, what the plaintiffs call High Church: Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Snubbed for promotions, they say, are those the plaintiffs proudly call Low Church: Pentecostals, Nazarenes, Southern Baptists and the wide array of unaffiliated and born again who preach what they call the unfiltered Word.

In choosing chaplains for commission, the lawsuit alleges that the brass strives for an unofficial quota, known in chaplain circles as "the thirds policy"--one-third Catholic, one-third mainline Protestant and one-third everyone else. Of 871 Navy chaplains, 34 percent are mainline Protestant, even though just 9 percent of sailors and Marines identified themselves in a 1998 survey as belonging to one of those churches.

Others can expect a career full of slights, detailed in the lawsuit: They are passed up for promotion or forced to retire early. Their congregations are removed after they've tripled in size. They are lectured on pluralism each time they use the word "Jesus."

"We're not attacking any denominations," said Arthur Schulcz, attorney for the plaintiffs and a second group of chaplains from the Full Gospel Church who filed a similar suit last November. "We're just attacking a system that's gotten corrupt. And the guy who gets ultimately shortchanged is the sailor, who can't freely exercise his religion."

The Navy does not dispute the statistics. But Navy personnel officers deny that they follow any quota, official or unofficial, in deciding commissions. And they do not even consider a person's religion when making promotions, they say.

"Promotion is based on the best-qualified-person standard for all selections," said Lynette Williams, spokeswoman for the Navy's personnel office, "and chaplains are no different."

The Navy claims to be open-minded and ecumenical, encouraging a profusion of different faiths.

"The Navy prides itself on promoting freedom of religion as well as practicing it," Cmdr. Frank Thorpe, another Navy spokesman, said in a written statement. "The Navy chaplains from more than 110 faith groups provide spiritual leadership to our sailors in a free and open fashion."

But to back up their claims, the plaintiffs point to two internal memos. In 1997, a minority affairs board looked into complaints and found that the chaplain promotion board "may have systematically applied a denominational quota system."

A 1995 report by the chaplain of the Marine Corps similarly sympathizes with the "disgruntlement" of evangelical chaplains. In the 15 years studied, he found only 14 evangelical chaplains had been chosen for the top 119 leadership spots.

A Navy spokeswoman declined to respond to any of the allegations in the lawsuit, which does not seek damages but asks the Navy to reform its system of commissions and promotions.

Whatever the courts ultimately decide about quotas, the lawsuit has revealed a surprising cultural clash. On the surface, it seems evangelical Christians and military brass would thrive in each other's company. Both tend to be conservative, Republican, patriotic, pro-family.

But on questions of religion, the two have serious differences. The new lifestyle-conscious military is careful to respect tolerance, diversity and ethnicity, slogans borrowed from the cultural left. Chaplain handbooks list, without passing judgment, dozens of faiths: wiccans and Buddhists and Sri Chimnoy and Rastafarians, all welcome in the new multicultural military.

The one thing it won't tolerate is intolerance.

But to evangelicals, a certain kind of intolerance is a necessary shield against modern America's cultural rot. To them, religious pluralism means they have to accommodate other faiths, but not agree with them.

"They expect me to compromise my own faith because I'm a chaplain facilitating for everyone else," said one of the plaintiffs, who asked not to be identified. "But I tell them 'absolutely not,' and nobody else should either. If a Catholic kid is in here, I'll get him a priest. And for a Jewish kid, I'll find a rabbi. But we can still disagree."

DeMarco's experience underscores the different philosophies. His problems began in 1997, when he was stationed in Naples. Until then he'd been on independent duty, the lone chaplain assigned to a base. But in Naples he had a superior for the first time.

Two years into his stay, DeMarco was asked to lead the Christmas Eve service. As he and his supporters tell it, attendance at weekly services had grown from a scattered 30 to a rapt 200; on this day, the homesick seamen soaked up what DeMarco considers a basic Christian message.

"God is not impressed with a person's religion," he thundered. "It doesn't matter if you're Baptist, Lutheran, atheist, Jewish. The only thing God is impressed with is if you accept Jesus. You must submit to him personally if you have any hope of getting to heaven."

DeMarco's hints that some sailors were risking damnation rankled his superiors, he said.

"Well, that just upset a lot of folks," he recalled. The presiding chaplains on the base called him a fundamentalist," he recalled, as if that were a curse; they said he was "non-pluralistic," that he was some kind of two-bit TV evangelist trying to "build an empire for myself."

The Navy declined to respond to DeMarco's accusation.

Other plaintiffs recall similar experiences. As a chaplain in Okinawa, Michael Belt preached a simple but blunt message: All men who call themselves Christian should live as Christians, he told them, repeating a basic tenet of evangelicals.

The men responded. A weekly service that drew 40 people grew to a regular 130. Still, Belt's presiding chaplain, a mainline Protestant, gave him a poor fitness report. Eventually, that chaplain told Belt his style of worship was "hogwash" and took over the service, Belt said in his deposition.

When plaintiff George Linzey decided to join the chaplain corps, he knew what was in store. His father, the Navy's first Pentecostal chaplain, offered this advice: "George, if you plan to be a successful chaplain, you'd better remember one thing. There are actually three chaplain corps, in this order: Roman Catholic, High Church Liturgical, and then all the rest of us. If you remember that you'll do okay."

At first Linzey did do okay. He was the youngest chaplain ever promoted to captain. Soon, though, he began to run into roadblocks. In 1998, he lost his post when the military trimmed its ranks. When he found out almost every other chaplain who was downsized was evangelical, Linzey stopped trying to follow his father's advice and remember his place.

"It's been a wonderful 21 years," said Linzey. "But it's time things changed."

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

Chicago Priest Named House Chaplain

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - For the first time, a Roman Catholic priest now holds the title of House chaplain, ending a fractious selection process that embroiled the Republican Party in allegations it was biased against Catholics.

Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday named the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, the vicar for priests in the Chicago archdiocese, as chaplain.

Hastert and Republicans have been under fire since late last year when they announced the selection of the Rev. Charles Wright, a Presbyterian minister, for the position.

Democrats insisted that a Catholic priest, the Rev. Timothy O'Brien, was the top choice of a bipartisan selection committee. Hastert has maintained he was unaware of any ranking.

For four months, the issue raged as some Democrats and Roman Catholics fired charges of an anti-Catholic bias. GOP strategists fretted about the impact of such allegations, particularly given that Catholics make up more than 25 percent of the electorate.

In ending the controversy, Hastert accused Democrats of playing an ``unseemly political game'' by claiming religious bias.

``I am a patient man,'' said the Illinois Republican, who took office 15 months ago with a pledge to lower the level of acrimony in the House. ``But even I did not easily take in stride carelessly tossed accusations of bigotry.''

Coughlin's appointment seemed to quiet the brouhaha for the time being. He won bipartisan applause on the House floor, a sharp contrast to the partisan struggle that prompted Wright to withdraw Tuesday.

Coughlin, who flew to Washington on Thursday and was quickly sworn in, called his appointment ``terribly unexpected.''

He told reporters the United States stood for ``unity mixed with diversity.''

William Donohue, president of the 350,000-member Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said the group had been ``dismayed by the way Republicans handled this matter'' but ``we have no interest in fighting this fight any longer and we commend House Speaker Dennis Hastert for bringing this chapter to an end.''

Deal Hudson, editor and publisher of Crisis, a magazine of politics, culture and the Catholic church, said Hastert clearly sent a message to Catholics with the selection of Coughlin, who hails from largest Catholic diocese in the nation.

The selection helps ``refute the notion that somehow Republicans are country club Protestants who cannot include Catholics within their ranks,'' Hudson said.

The House has never had a Catholic chaplain; the Senate had one in 1832 but he was on the job only a year.

Coughlin's duties, in addition to opening each day's session with prayer, will be to minister to House members and their families.

Wright, his nomination in limbo for months, met privately with Hastert in the Capitol on Tuesday and offered to withdraw. In a letter released by the speaker's office, he referred to the political controversy. ``Let us be thankful that God is not an independent, not a Democrat and not a Republican. He is for all of us,'' he wrote.

In a somber speech on the House floor where he retraced the controversy and responded to critics, Hastert commented that those charging bias ``don't know me or are maliciously seeking political advantage by making these accusations.''

``I have never said and I never believed that there was a bias involved in the making of this selection,'' House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt said moments later.

Wright's nomination emerged in October from a bipartisan committee of lawmakers, but Hastert has the authority to name a chaplain himself.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., offered a resolution shortly after Coughlin's nomination that would require that future chaplains be voted on by the House.

``I think we can do better than this going forward,'' Pomeroy said.

Republicans were battered for months by charges of anti-Catholic bias. The problem worsened after Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, visited Bob Jones University, a South Carolina Christian school, during the South Carolina primary race.

Bob Jones III, the university's president, has described Roman Catholicism and Mormonism as ``cults which call themselves Christian,'' and Arizona Sen. John McCain used the appearance to hammer Bush.

AP-NY-03-24-00 0206EST

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.