Even the article in question admits this just may be a coincidence, but according to CNSNews.com, there is a correlation between unemployment and belief in The Bible amongst Americans. “Belief in the Bible hit a 35-year low in the United States in May 2008 when unemployment was at the relatively low level of 5.4 percent, but has begun to rebound over the past three years as unemployment has climbed to over 9 percent…”
This conclusion is based on a Gallup Poll and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The article goes on to show how literal belief in The Bible versus it being considered a book of fables and fairy tales goes up and down as employment rises and declines. 1980 was another example when belief in The Bible was at an all time high and unemployment was at 7.8 percent.
The statistics seem to confirm the obvious: when times are good people have less of a need for superstition to make them feel better. When times get worse they reach out for anything to give them hope, usually this is religion because they know it from their childhood or they are easy prey for religious friends and relatives. Religion is emotion based. Certainly there are rationalizations for belief, but they are just that–rationalizations.
The good news about this article for atheists is that if quality of life improves–if we find a state of happiness where we can make the majority of Americans comfortable and content–religious zeal declines. What this simply means is that we have a clear objective through science and technology. It may not be our religious debates, protests (or my sarcastic cartoons) that cause religion to disappear. It may just be making sure people have enough food, like their job and look forward to living each next day on planet Earth. That’s a tough assignment, but we know it works.
I can’t really blame anyone for being anxious about the economy and trying to find solace in their community church. You can find solace in other avenues–thus the explanation for geeks (much like myself) who have extensive hobbies and busy their time with movies, comics, science enthusiasm and simply taking walks with my wife (odd how just taking a walk can make you feel better). The problem is if you’re an unemployed geek, you have no funds to indulge in such activities. Churches have always had the advantage of being “free.” Even if you’re an atheist, you may want to play basketball with your Christian friends in the newly built church gymnasium or watch the game on the widescreen in the church media center.
If Christians are lucky, they have a church that engages in employment assistance (which would be a wonderful way of doing community outreach). Atheists are making some progress in the areas of community outreach themselves, but nothing that can compare to the overall religious community. As the minority grows, we will see changes (I’ve already been amazed by the last two decades).
If you’re unemployed and reading this, I wish the best for you. I’ve been in that situation with my wife and it is a game of persistence. Hang in there.