Of course, it would be preposterous to assume that America follows this global trend – when is the last time we did anything in conformance with the rest of the world? We remain as one of the only rich countries to be majorly religious (our posse includes Italians, Greeks, Singaporeans, and oil-wealthy Persian Gulf nations). Amongst Americans, 65% say that religion plays an important role in their lives. Our rich counterparts in Europe and Asia are far more secular, with religiosity levels meekly surviving around the 30% mark.
But the bigger question at hand remains, why is there a correlation between poverty and religiosity? Gallup offers its explanation – religion may provide comfort and emotional security to those in the poorest countries struggling to make ends meet. Could this be a viable explanation, or merely a simplistic effort to dodge the inevitable (yet politically incorrect?) intuition of the horrendous ramifications that result from supernatural myths pervading a nations’ population?
Religion does more than provide emotional comfort to oppressed people – it fuels the cycle of ignorance, whether its effects are seen in education, health development, socio-economic decisions, or any of the vital factors that propagate development. When women rights are subjugated due to sharia law, or condoms are done away in accordance with orders from the Pope, development takes a step backwards. When homeopathy is seen as a substitute to medicine and swamis take the place of physicians, people die.
As further statistics and polls give us a better picture of how religion goes hand-in-hand with dire underdevelopment, it is time to push theology and doctrine to the back seat and push for secular progression and scientific education to help these countries back on their feet. After all, that was how centuries ago the Dark Ages was vanquished into the pages of Western European history.