Charles Blow created this fascinating chart on religiosity worldwide, with the US far removed from its counterparts in other industrialized countries. The graph was published in Saturday's NY Times, in an op-ed of sorts titled "Religious Outlier." This data, taken from a recent Gallup poll, draws from responders in 115 countries. Blow writes:
"Sixty-five percent of Americans say that religion is an important part of their daily lives. That is compared with just 30 percent of the French, 27 percent of the British and 24 percent of the Japanese.
"[Blow] used Gallup’s data to chart religiosity against gross domestic product per capita, and to group countries by their size and dominant religions.
The cliché goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
The Gallup poll hypothesizes a strong correlation between religiosity and income, and is appropriately titled "Religiosity Highest in World's Poorest Nations." And the poll sets forth this summary of the survey's implications:
"Social scientists have put forth numerous possible explanations for the relationship between the religiosity of a population and its average income level. One theory is that religion plays a more functional role in the world's poorest countries, helping many residents cope with a daily struggle to provide for themselves and their families. A previous Gallup analysis supports this idea, revealing that the relationship between religiosity and emotional wellbeing is stronger among poor countries than among those in the developed world."
Does Gallup mean to suggest that religion is practically necessary in the Third World, whereas in developed nations, religion takes a back seat to feelings of self-sufficiency and control over one's life path? What would those say who buck the trend -- including Americans, Italians, Greeks, and residents of the Persian Gulf? After all, Greece was religious well before its debt crisis, and the faithful Gulf boasts one of the highest concentrations of wealth in the world.
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