Jewish Journal

When you’re wealthy, you don’t need God

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 8, 2007 | 9:22 am

Sometimes, the religious get rich because of their faith, and not always for wholesome reasons. But more commonly, the wealthier people are, the smaller a role God plays in their lives. This was the reasoning behind Jesus’ famous aphorism that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I’ve repeated this reasoning to my friends often because, being a fairly self-sufficient, not-poor American, it’s easy to forget to say “Thank God” when people ask how I am doing. (I admire Orthodox Jews who are better about remembering this.)

Anyway, I’m a journalist, and for journalists a story becomes newsworthy when a new study that proves reality. Thanks Pew Research Center.

Pew found that there is “a strong relationship between a country’s religiosity and its economic status.” The poorer a country, the more “religion remains central to the lives of individuals, while secular perspectives are more common in richer nations.”

The United States is the “most notable” exception. Other exceptions are oil-rich, mostly Muslim nations like Kuwait.

There is no simple interpretation of the findings. Perhaps as “people get less religious, they get wealthier,” wrote Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog. “Or perhaps the other way around. Or perhaps there’s something else behind both trends.”

  Mr. Drum concludes that it’s “probably a bit of all three.”


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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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