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While it is clear that social problems will increase if economic growth benefits a small minority, there is very little concrete analysis of how different sectors of society contribute to the goal of inclusive growth. This blog is part of series on the way faith interacts with tough global challenges, from inclusive growth to gender parity to climate change. Why is the faith factor important to consider?

First, because religious adherence is on the rise , as is clearly seen in recent research on religious demographics. Second, because religion is often ignored. In fact, religion plays both negative and positive roles in relation to inclusive growth. On the one hand, religion-related hostilities, prejudices and biases can lock people out and inhibit inclusive growth.

The faith factor in inclusive growth is a complex topic which is only just beginning to be analysed. This post aims to help get the discussion started by offering a look at Christianity, while recognizing that other religions can also play an important role in inclusive growth. We invite specialists in other faith traditions to join the discussion. For instance, almsgiving, one of the five pillars of Islam, is widely practiced by Muslims worldwide according to a Pew Research survey of 38, Muslims.

Christian groups and organisations approach inclusive growth in a number of different ways, according to their different theologies. The largest Christian church, the Roman Catholic Church, emphasizes the importance of social justice and alleviating poverty. Meanwhile, Tagel was echoing the sentiment of Pope Francis.

Religion and Morality

Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say NO to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.

This does not mean that the Catholic position is blindly pro-business. It is pro-people, and pro-business only to the extent that business can lift people from poverty and despair to prosperity and hope. The emphasis is on fair social distribution more than individual wealth creation.

Religion and Economic Growth

A second Christian approach, more typical of Protestant churches, places the emphasis on personal responsibility for wealth, prosperity, enterprise and growth. Many church leaders grapple with the economic challenges on their doorstep. This helps church members and their families to find a job, start a business, or get the education they need to do one of these. Cancellaro of the Department of Psychiatry at the Veterans Administration in Johnson City, Tennessee, writes that, "Like their fathers, addicts are less religiously involved than their normal peers, and during adolescence, less frequently make decisions either to become more interested in religion or to commit themselves to a re ligious philosophy to live by.

In reviewing the religious treatment of addicts, research psychiatrists at the Duke University Department of Psychiatry concluded in "[The] role of religious commitment and religiously oriented treatment programs can be significant factors which ought to be considered and included when planning a mix of appropriate treatment alternatives Perhaps the greatest advantage of religious programs is their recourse to churches as a support system Religious treatment programs are not suitable for everyone.

For those men and women who can accept the creeds, rituals, and commitments required of such programs there seem to be certain advantages. Suicide The practice of religion reduces the rate of suicide, both in the United States and abroad. Those who attend church frequently are four times less likely to commit suicide than those who never attend. Conversely, the national decline in church attendance is associated with a heightened suicide rate; fluctuations in church attendance rates in the s paralleled the suicide rates for different subgroups: whites, blacks, men, and women.

Steven Stack, professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University, in a landmark study on the demography of suicide has found that "Families and religion change together over time As the importance of the domestic-religious institutional complex declines, the study finds a rise in the rate of suicide, both for the general population and for the age cohort at the center of the decline, the youth cohort. In inter-state comparisons, higher levels of church attendance are associated with lower rates of suicide. Depression religion appears to reduce the incidence of depression among those with medical problems.

For instance, University of Michigan Professor of Sociology David Williams conducted a randomized survey of adults suffering from leg and hip injuries in New Haven, Connecticut, in Those who attended religious services regularly were less depressed and less distressed by life events than those who did not. This finding held across age, race, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and religious affiliation. Religious affiliation alone did not have these effects, but religious behavior did.

Younger people also tend to experience fewer of the anxieties of growing up if they are religious. For instance, both male and female Texas high-schoolers found that religious beliefs gave meaning to their lives and reduced the incidence of depression among them. Self-esteem The absence of self-esteem weakens the personality and puts the person at greater risk for crime, addictions, and other social maladies.

Significantly, self-esteem is linked to a person's image of God. Those with high self-esteem think of God primarily as loving, while those with low self-esteem think of God primarily as punitive. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given their followers and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. Recent advances in the investigation of religious behavior have led social scientists to distinguish between two distinct categories or orientations: "intrinsic" and "extrinsic.

Research shows this form of religious practice to be beneficial. Extrinsic practice is self-oriented and characterized by outward observance, not internalized as a guide to behavior or attitudes. The evidence suggests this form of religious practice is actually more harmful than no religion: religion directed toward some end other than God, or the transcendent, typically degenerates into a rationalization for the pursuit of other ends such as status, personal security, self justification, or sociability. The difference between these two forms of religious practice have implications for future research and for the interpretation of all research on religious practice.

There is a radical difference between what religious people know to be conversion of the spirit or heart and simply conforming external behavior for its own sake, or for benefits derived from religious behavior. William James, professor of psychology at Harvard University in the early s and a pioneer in the psychological study of religious behavior, was the first to make the social science distinction between the two forms of religious practice.

Gordon Allport, his successor at Harvard in the late s, concluded: "I feel equally sure that mental health is facilitated by an intrinsic, but not an extrinsic, religious orientation. The two orientations lead to two very different sets of psychological effects. For instance, "intrinsics" have a greater sense of responsibility and greater internal control, are more self-motivated, and do better in their studies. By contrast, "extrinsics" are more likely to be dogmatic, authoritarian, and less responsible, to have less internal control, to be less self-directed, and to do less well in their studies.

By contrast, extrinsics are more self-indulgent, indolent, and likely to lack dependability. For example, the most racially prejudiced people turn out to be those who go to church occasionally [] and those who are extrinsic in their practice of religion. The contrasting effects show up in college students.

Beyond Edge

Intrinsically religious students tend to have internal locus of control, intrinsic motives, and a higher grade point average. Intrinsically religious students were found to have a greater concern for moral standards and to be more conscientious, disciplined, responsible, and consistent, while the extrinsic were more self-indulgent, more indolent, and less dependable. In general, intrinsics are less anxious about life's ups and downs, while extrinsics are more anxious.

Further, the religious beliefs and practices of intrinsics are more integrated; for instance, they are more likely to worship publicly as well as pray privately. By contrast, those who pray privately but do not worship publicly tend to have a higher level of general anxiety -- a characteristic of extrinsics generally. Religious teachers, without being utilitarian, would agree. There is a tension between practitioners of social science and religious belief.

Henry, professors of sociology at Brigham Young University, write: "From the work of Freud and others, much of the early history of the social sciences is characterized by the expectation that involvement in and reliance upon the religious institution will be associated with people who have a low sense of personal well-being.

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There is repeated evidence that much the same hostility to religion -- a hostility at variance with the attitude of the vast majority of Americans -- persists among members of America's professional elites. Stephen L. Carter, professor of law at Yale University, points out that "One sees a trend in our political and legal cultures toward treating religious beliefs as arbitrary and unimportant, a trend supported by rhetoric that implies that there is something wrong with religious devotion.

More and more, our culture seems to take the position that believing deeply in the tenets of one's faith represents a kind of mystical irrationality, something that thoughtful, public-spirited American citizens would do better to avoid.