Government is Replacing Religion, According to Researchers

Via The Daily Bell

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” -Karl Marx

A group of researchers agrees. They think they have proven that if you have a government you don’t need religion. They concluded that “religiosity” wanes as people get more help from government programs. They think that people replace spiritual help from God with tangible help from the government.

Researchers call it an exchange model of religion: If people can get what they need from the government (be it health care, education or welfare) they’re less likely to turn to a divine power for help, according to the theory.

But are people actually more likely to drop religion in places where governments provide more services and stability? In a new paper, psychology researchers crunched the numbers — and found that better government services were in fact linked to lower levels of strong religious beliefs.

Those findings held true in states across the U.S. and in countries around the world, researchers said.

The article, “Religion as an Exchange System: The Interchangeability of God and Government in a Provider Role,” was published April 12 in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

What they are really highlighting is how the government undermines traditional community institutions. The church has been one of the most important neighborhood safety nets for centuries, possibly millennia. But these warm, personal institutions are being replaced by cold government programs. People are treated like numbers, not neighbors. People are provided help not from the charity of others, but from the forced redistribution of wealth.

This tears apart the foundation of why churches have always worked so well as a safety net. And it really doesn’t have much to do with religion. It has much more to do with community and strong neighborhood social ties.

I am not convinced that the researchers were measuring what they thought they were measuring. Going to church and participating in a religious community is not so clearly a deeply religious experience for all attendees. Community and social ties are likely the main reason most people gravitate towards religion.

Yuval Noah Harari argues in his book Sapiens that after industrialization, government and industry teamed up to get people hooked on markets and government instead of family and community. They knew that they had to replace more than the physical things that people depended on.

Markets and states do so by fostering ‘imagined communities’ that contain millions of strangers, and which are tailored to national and commercial needs. An imagined community is a community of people who don’t really know each other, but imagine that they do. Such communities are not a novel invention. Kingdoms, empires and churches functioned for millennia as imagined communities…

The two most important examples for the rise of such imagined communities are the nation and the consumer tribe. The nation is the imagined community of the state. The consumer tribe is the imagined community of the market. Both are imagined communities because it is impossible for all customers in a market or for all members of a nation really to know one another the way villagers knew one another in the past…

Consumerism and nationalism work extra hours to make us imagine that millions of strangers belong to the same community as ourselves, that we all have a common past, common interests and a common future.

People abandon the God that provides them with a community for a “god” that provides them with “free” stuff. The government is much easier to satisfy. You don’t have to be polite and grateful to your neighbors when they help you. The government obscures where the help really comes from, and leaves people with a sense of entitlement.

And the community has no control over who receives its help. In a community, you can tell who needs help, and who might be gaming the system. You can isolate the type of support that neighbors need most. Instead of handing out government dollars to buy fruit roll-ups and Capt’n Crunch, a family might offer to cook dinner for another family or take their kids in for certain meals or extended stays.

There are actual “regulatory” mechanisms at work in communities and small-scale warm institutions like churches. For instance, Sapiens also point to gossip as an important social regulator. It is a way of making sure people in your social group know who they are truly dealing with.

But the researchers really seemed to miss the aspects of community that religion provides, and focus only on the “supernatural” part of the equation.

“If a secular entity provides what people need, they will be less likely to seek help from God or other supernatural entities. Government is the most likely secular provider,” the researchers concluded. “We showed in two cross-sectional analyses, one using world countries and one using states in the United States, that better government services were related to lower levels of religiosity.” …

“If the benefits acquired in the religious exchange can be acquired elsewhere, religion becomes less useful,” researchers wrote. They added that, when it comes to the role religion plays in establishing predictability and control in society, “the power and order emanating from God can be outsourced to the government.”

Again, it is not God giving order and predictability, but the close-knit community. Sure, they may be basing their system on God’s law. But the government is undermining community. They are destroying the long-tested method of providing a social safety net, help for the poor, assistance for the elderly, emotional support, child support, friends, and something to be a part of.

And the researchers hint that this is a good thing. But that cannot be further from the truth.

You don’t have to be a religious person to see the problems with government replacing religion, and by extension, community.

A major source of social problems is emotional isolation. So even if the government is better at providing services that religion once provided, their services are cold and impersonal. Yes, people need food and healthcare. But those are actually pretty easy to come by in free societies based on production and abundance.

The truly hard thing to come by is a sense of belonging. For some people, religion provides this inclusive community. A government can replace the superficial qualities, but it is no substitute for the deeper connections that religion provides.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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NuYawkFrankie Fri, 04/20/2018 - 15:56 Permalink

re Govt Replacing Religion

Yeah, we know: The Government "Church Of Satan"... with St Hillary - Patron Saint of 'Those Defrauded In Elections' - its first martyr.

MoreSun stacking12321 Fri, 04/20/2018 - 23:59 Permalink


Wishing A Very Happy Birthday To Adolf Hitler, April 20th 1989- A Man among men.

"Hitler will emerge from the hate that now surrounds him and come to be regarded as one of the most significant figures ever to have lived.” He adds: “There was something mysterious about the way he lived and died which will outlive him and continue to flourish. He was made of the stuff of legends.”- John F. Kennedy

In reply to by stacking12321

hedgeless_horseman Boris Alatovkrap Sat, 04/21/2018 - 18:50 Permalink


People are provided help not from the charity of others, but from the forced redistribution of wealth.


Couldn't have said it any better myself...

Which means if you aren't paying for your healthcare, then I am.  Unlike the good ol' days in America, when we had a choice to fund our local hospital via charity, and could feel good about doing so, in 2017 America, the Supreme Court has determined that we have no freedom of choice to donate to a charity.  We are now required to pay for other's healthcare, upon threat of imprisonment by the IRS.  It's sure hard to feel good about that.…

In reply to by Boris Alatovkrap

Boris Alatovkrap DownWithYogaPants Sat, 04/21/2018 - 13:40 Permalink

Like Satan, with cord of flax, strand by strand, "The State" is slow but with surety loop by loop, statute by statute, regulation by regulation, crisis by crisis, steal away freedom until citizenry is bound in unbreakable manacle. Never underestimate long enduring patience of progressive statist nor his/her resolve in make serf of citizen.

…meh, but what is Boris know?

In reply to by DownWithYogaPants

uhland62 MoreSun Sun, 04/22/2018 - 03:06 Permalink

My late father was there and in 1933 was not convinced that Hitler would be the answer to all their troubles but he then did not say anything, not being able to swim against the tide. Hitler cost our family a lot, but that's a long story. 

Religion is just telling me to outsource my thinking process - but I'd like to keep that. Paying taxes and having a safety net (not hammock) is just delegating certain tasks to other people. I personally don't like to be bothered with other people'd matters, rather pay my silverling and be rid of the issue. 

In reply to by MoreSun

slobbermut uhland62 Mon, 04/23/2018 - 09:21 Permalink

"Religion is just telling me to outsource my thinking process - but I'd like to keep that."

I am tempted to declare just total BS...but then I realize that it all depends on what you mean by 'religion', as many 'so-called' religions are indeed simply made up either out of whole cloth BS indeed or some fanciful crock of melded 'seem right' ideas which are not the least bit genuinely inspired or revealed by our Almighty Creator; so I guess I will have to agree in part as regards all 'religions' except that exemplified and taught by Yeshua the Christ and passed to us through Christian Scripture...namely 'salvation is found in no one else except Jesus (Yeshua) and through His atoning blood shed for all who will accept it.  All religions are not the same mate; one has to have a firm commitment  and willingness to seek out, identify, and pursue that teaching (religion if you will) which is of God vs. most 'religions' which are a conglomeration of pure hogwash or a melding of genuine inspired truth with a whole lot of man made teachings, falsehoods, and traditions (like the Catholics have foisted upon mankind).

So if you are saying "All" religions are BS requiring one to 'outsource' one's 'thinking process' in there is no Creator/God who has put forth a plan for salvation...then I do indeed declare pure BS; "The Fool has said in his Heart there is no God"...Yeshua said 'I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one cometh to the Father (Creator) except through Me', for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which you can be saved.  And yes....all mankind (every single human ever born except Yeshua the Christ) is in need of salvation from their sins; fail to grasp this basic truth and you will miss the free gift of salvation through the blood of Christ and perish in your sins (for all have sinned...and the wages of sin is death).  If you are an agnostic or atheist...I urge you to reconsider as you are making the worst mistake you can possibly make.

In reply to by uhland62

ejmoosa stacking12321 Mon, 04/23/2018 - 07:41 Permalink

"The belief in “authority,” which includes all belief in “government,” is irrational and selfcontradictory; it is contrary to civilization and morality, and constitutes the most dangerous, destructive superstition that has ever existed. Rather than being a force for order and justice, the belief in “authority” is the arch-enemy of humanity."


Thanks for the PDF link.  

In reply to by stacking12321

techpriest Pollygotacracker Sat, 04/21/2018 - 11:56 Permalink

I grew up in a center left church and be ame more conservative over time. Left churches have devolved into a "me too" mentality of being cheerleaders for the State, and if you are a sideshow to the real thing, why bother with the sideshow ?


If a conservative church has sound doctrine, you are given a means to find sanity in an insane world. You also gain access to history that is not State approved, and you have a much richer perspective.

In reply to by Pollygotacracker

techpriest hedgeless_horseman Sun, 04/22/2018 - 02:15 Permalink

That's where the sound doctrine part comes in. I am finding that the "left" churches worship at the altar of Venus (LGBT, etc.), and the "right" churches worship at the altar of Mars (war). Of course, both side with the State, arguably the altar of Jupiter. This creates a predictable internal confusion where, for example, one might be attempting to protect the institution of the family (by opposing the recent freak show), while simultaneously attacking it (shipping kids off to State schools without giving the parents any say in the matter).

"Conservative" is the only word I have for churches that still hold to sound doctrine and who are not beholden to the State, but post WW1 at least there have not been enough such churches. Once the congregation gives itself to the State, it isn't the same religion, you don't have the same destiny, and you aren't looking to the same eternity.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Jasher August Sat, 04/21/2018 - 22:21 Permalink

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

13 And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?

In reply to by August

amadeus39 Pollygotacracker Sun, 04/22/2018 - 05:48 Permalink

Those "isms" didn't ruin our societies.  They have shown the path to truth. You want to sacrifice "truth" on the altar of happiness. I don't enjoy lying to myself. Religions are the greatest barriers to progress and peace for all of humankind.   The sooner they are abolished as a means to knowing what is true, the sooner humankind can move into a Brave New World. Trust me on this one. I've spend most of my life pondering this subject.


In reply to by Pollygotacracker

ejmoosa Kidbuck Mon, 04/23/2018 - 07:20 Permalink

Government began displacing religion when they took over the soup lines and welfare payments...and has been growing non-stop ever since.

And they threaten the remaining religious institutions with the threat of losing their non profit status.

I do not give to a church because it is a tax deductible contribution.

I give because I want to.

Not so with government.  They take by force.


In reply to by Kidbuck

DanDaley Fri, 04/20/2018 - 16:19 Permalink

For progressives government IS their religion...which is why they hate Christianity...they hate competition. As for mohammedanism, they use it for virtue signaling to show that they don't hate religion...but mohammedanism is just another form of totalitarianism, like progressivism. They will ride that bus until it's time to get off -then try to crush it too. 

GeezerGeek DanDaley Fri, 04/20/2018 - 17:59 Permalink

A great example of what you say is seen in the recent hearings regarding Mike Pompeo becoming SecState. It seems one Sen. Cory Booker, jackass from New Jersey, opposes Pompeo because Pompeo is a Christian and espouses Christian morals. The hell with the "no religious test" part of the Constitution, it just joined most of the rest of the Bill of Rights.

In reply to by DanDaley

cornflakesdisease DanDaley Fri, 04/20/2018 - 20:28 Permalink

I had a chance to ask a mid level European politician this question (what's the deal with injecting Islam into Europe, don't you realize this is suicide) and he said "it is by design to make the average person disgusted by all religion.  It was picked because it is the poster-child of the worst most backward religion.  When the time is right, the funding will be cut off and it will wither and die, but all religion will go with it."

In reply to by DanDaley