Religion in America: Does God have a plan for you?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-1118_ov_signs_of_our_faith_Jesus.jpgSIGNS OF OUR FAITH: Roadside signs pepper the byways in rural America, proclaiming America’s distinctive intensity of faith. Photo in public domain courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Does God have a plan for you? Most Americans believe God does have a plan for them, according to the latest Baylor Religion Survey. Many Americans (41%) feel very strongly about this, saying that they are assured that God, indeed, has a plan for them. Another 32.2% don’t feel as strongly, but still believe God has a plan. About one quarter of Americans reject the idea that God has a plan in mind for them.

Who tends to hold this belief? These beliefs vary closely with levels of education and income, Baylor analysts discovered. Those who strongly agree that God has a plan for them are apt to have lower levels of formal education and lower levels of income, compared to those who disagree with the belief.

How does this belief shape political views? Americans who strongly believe God has a plan for them are also more likely to hold conservative opinions: They tend to believe the government does too much and that able-bodied people who are jobless shouldn’t get unemployment checks. They also tend to believe that anything’s possible for those who work hard and success is due to ability, not luck. These attitudes indicate faith in the American ethic of hard work and meritocracy. Strong believers also are likely to think that some people are meant to be rich and some are meant to be poor.

How does this belief fuel our growing gap between rich and poor? Strong belief in God’s personal planning tends to justify our economic situation. We live in a time of high joblessness and growing economic inequality, as we have discussed before in OurValues. Those who strongly believe in God’s plan for their lives are likely to find this belief reiforcing “the fairness of our economic system,” write the Baylor analysts, “and our ability to eschew government assistance to stem the tide of our economic woes.”

Do you believe God has a plan for you?

Do you see this belief fueling the political viewpoints described above?

Do you agree that this belief about God can fuel acceptance of poverty?

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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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