Is There a Global Resurgence of Religion?
National Press Club Washington, D.C.
At a time when some analysts see a worldwide resurgence of religion, University of Michigan Research Professor Ronald Inglehart says the picture is more complex.
The Pew Forum and the Council on Foreign Relations hosted a presentation by Inglehart, who chairs the World Values Survey, an investigation by a global network of social scientists who have compiled data from more than 80 countries. Inglehart sees a shift in most post-industrialized societies from traditional religious beliefs to secular rational values. His message is that religion is not necessarily dying, but changing, with a decline in several key indicators, including church attendance and prayer.
In a response, Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut addresses trends in the United States, where religiosity has not declined.
Ronald Inglehart, Chairman, World Values Survey, Research Professor, Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan
Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center
Luis Lugo, Director, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
LUIS LUGO: Good afternoon to all of you and welcome to this session of the Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy Working Group, co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. We have the privilege of having with us today someone who has worked on religion and world affairs and religion and world values for a long time: Ronald Inglehart. He is a research professor at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan and, more importantly for our purposes, chairman of the World Values Survey, which he has led since its inception in the early 1980s. As many of you know, the World Values Survey grew out of a study launched by the European Values Survey Group back in 1981.
The survey is now in its fifth iteration. It is now in the field, and Ron tells me the results should start becoming available in spring of ’07. They now have data on more than 80 countries, which represent over 85 percent of the world’s population. I hope you’ve taken a look at Ron’s efforts to synthesize and discuss the cumulative knowledge built by those surveys, and his recent books, Sacred and Secular and Religion and Politics Worldwide, both from Cambridge University Press. A subsequent book, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence, also published by Cambridge University, came out last year.
RONALD INGLEHART: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m honored to be here as a guest of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, two organizations that have contributed a lot to my own intellectual development, so I’m glad to pay back a little bit. The basic question is a teaser: Are we witnessing a global resurgence of religion? Since I have so much complex material otherwise, I’ll go straight to the bottom line: No — but. The evolution of religion is enormously complex. It would be dishonest to say there is a global resurgence of religion when there is a lot of evidence, in fact, that in many countries religion clearly is declining. Nevertheless, I would say, as the bottom line, quite clearly, unequivocally, no waffling, there are more people alive today with traditional religious beliefs than ever before in history, and they’re a larger percentage of the world’s population than they were 20 years ago. The World Values Survey data make that really unequivocal. When I was a grad student, I was not at all interested in religion because it was so obvious — all the major intellectuals knew — it was dropping off the map. Why waste your time on something that maybe 20, 30 years from now won’t even be there; so why bother? That was colossally wrong, as we all now know.
It was nevertheless not wrong in a simple way. Such a thing as secularization did take place. It was a major feature of the industrialization process. It has not ended in most of the rich countries. The U.S. is a bit of an exception, but even in the U.S., to some extent, there has been a decline in the established kinds of churches. This is continuing, I would say, but religion has a new lease on life — a quite different form of religiosity is emerging, even in the rich countries. Secularization did take place, and it was profoundly important. There was a time when, in the Western world, religion had a much more dominant role in telling people what to do, dictating how they lived their lives. The established organizations are losing their ability to tell people how to lead their lives concerning abortion, divorce, birth control, things like this. Clearly this is happening, and in most rich countries, church attendance has been going down quite a bit.
I would say, however, virtually any industrialized country tends to be exposed to forces that are conducive to secularization. It is also true there are more people today with traditional religious beliefs than ever before. More importantly, in certain ways, religion is becoming a more important socio-political factor in the rich countries where the axis of political cleavage dominated the industrial phase of development. In this enormously important phase throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century, industrialization was based on what could be called the classic class conflict axis of political cleavage. Karl Marx talked about it. There is a lot of reality to it. It was working class versus middle class, and it was over economic issues.
In post-industrial society, or the knowledge society, further changes are taking place that tend to shift the axis away from class conflict back to value-based politics, in which one wing is traditional religious values and another is rapidly changing social values, which generate powerful cleavages. We saw this in the U.S. elections a year ago, when the big axis arguably tipped the election. We saw more issues of national security and cultural conflict, with the referenda on same-sex marriage being a salient feature. The axis of politics is tipping toward value-based politics because of a shift away from the basic worldview of industrial societies.
Let’s do a very quick sketch of a very complex process. In an agrarian society you’re living in a world dominated by nature; you are at the mercy of inscrutable forces beyond your control. You pray, you submit; you don’t control whether it rains or not, whether a plague of locusts come, whether the crops fail. You need a sense that the world is in the hands of a benevolent higher power. This is psychologically highly functional. Without it you tend to despair, to give up, not knowing how to cope with a world beyond your control. I would say religion, among other things, has a tremendous function in giving people a sense that somehow it will work out; it will continue in the face of this uncertainty.
Industrial society is a very different world where production moves indoors. Instead of being at the mercy of these forces of nature, when it gets cold you turn up the heat, when it gets dark you turn up the lights. When you want to produce more, you invent a better machine, and it may double or triple productivity. It’s in your hands and it gives rise to a rather different worldview that it can all be solved by human ingenuity, by scientific rationality. This was the dominant spirit of Marxism and of all kinds of social analysis that, among other things, held that religion was dying off. I would say it is quite clear that in the industrialization phase there was a decline in the hold and salience of religion. It once had a dominant position, culturally, intellectually and philosophically. It lost ground to social science and ideology, and to many kinds of materialistic ideologies that proclaimed the way out was through human ingenuity. And Marx’s plan for scientific socialism seemed to be the end state. The logical end state would ultimately be an economy run by experts, not left to market forces, and a world run by rational, scientific socialism.
As we have all noticed, that’s not the way the world ended. The end of history was not in that direction. Instead, the rise of the knowledge society gave rise to a quite different kind of world that we are still feeling our way into. This is an emerging form of society that is fundamentally less materialist. A number of reasons contribute to this. One is that growing existential security and the welfare state make people fundamentally more secure. A large share of the population of these rich countries grows up with the feeling they can take survival for granted. This leads to a shift from the survival-oriented strategy of industrial society to a world in which imagination, ideas and knowledge are much more important, and in a world in which I see my kids living with computers. It’s a world of magic, to a certain extent — a very different kind of magic — where you say the right incantation and it all works out, and where, if I can’t get it to work, I call micro-computing and they tell me the magic incantation, I type it in and all is well.
And it is a world much less mechanical, much less materialistic. So this is a quick overview of what I say in much greater quantitative detail. The world is changing in a way that is clearly not going back to the old-time religion in which a priest tells you how to live your life. But it is a world in which spiritual concerns are becoming more important. So, where we find, in the World Values Survey, declining emphasis in the rich countries on traditional religious beliefs, we find growing concern for the meaning and purpose of life. In this broader sense, spiritual concerns are growing, not shrinking, and a different kind of religion may be playing a bigger role. A simplified view would be that religion is resurging all over the world. It’s simply not true. But the politics, even of advanced industrial societies, is shifting to one in which religions issues are more relevant and value questions are much more central.
Another way that an esteemed mentor of some of us here, Sam Huntington, has viewed this is as a clash of cultures, a clash of civilizations. I would disagree with details of how he frames this, but the notion that the issues of the post-Cold War era are more focused on culture and values, I would say, is accurate. I would also say there is nothing inevitable about it. There is no reason why different cultures have to clash. This is a fault line that can be exploited by demagogic forces, and often is exploited by demagogic forces very effectively. It is the renaissance of a line on which it is easy enough to get people to fight and hate each other over.
The leading social analysts knew that religion was dying. The story was wrong. I was quite mistaken in my graduate school days, and only as I began analyzing the data from the World Values Surveys did I increasingly realize religion is a major structuring force. In fact, if I were to draw a two-dimensional map of global cultural differences, religion would underlie one of the basic axes. Another one is a newer axis linked with the rise of post-industrial society that I would call “survival self-expression values.” But the belief systems I have discovered in the course of doing empirical analyses around the world are structured by a basic dimension: religion is very important or not important in their lives. And the answer to one of the questions put to me by email is, if I were to pick out one indicator that is the most sensitive indicator of this big dimension, it would be: How important is God in your life? The question taps this basic dimension. We’ve got 30 or 40 indicators in the World Values Surveys and various other aspects, but this is the core element: Is God important in your life or not? The world varies enormously on this element and it makes a lot of difference, not just on immediate attitudes on abortion, divorce, etc., but on national pride, child rearing, attitudes toward authority and many other things that are not obviously linked, but empirically are very strongly linked.
In a recently published book, one of the things I deal with is the secularization thesis. It’s partly right. It’s obviously wrong in its long-term implication that religion is going to drop dead, but these great thinkers of the 19th century were not idiots. What they saw happening was actually happening in the industrialization phase. And although secularization did take place with industrialization, it is less linked with the knowledge society and it had a long-term result. There was an unexpected event, an unexpected concomitant of secularization that made it its own gravedigger. I urge you, if you want more detail on this, to look into Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. We have a huge amount of detail to support the finding that traditional religion has been declining in virtually all rich societies.
Secularization was not a totally empty concept. It was so influential because it described something that did go on for an important part of history, and is still going on in many countries. But when we do the analyses, we find evidence of this secularization pattern that is shown by three of our best indicators of religion. Church attendance is an obvious one; and we find that if we compare agrarian societies with industrial and post-industrial societies, there is a big decline in church attendance. This is cross-sectional data. I would say it reflects time-series changes, but for the moment we’ll just give the cross-section comparisons.
Prayer is, again, about a two-to-one drop-off, from 52 to 26 percent across many countries — many industrial, agrarian and post-industrial societies. There is a big cross-section of them; it’s really quite dramatic. And when we take this subjective indicator — how important is religion in your life — this objective decline is even sharper than the church attendance decline. Instead of a two-to-one decline from agrarian to post-industrial societies, you find a three-to-one decline from agrarian to post-industrial societies in the subjective importance of religion, so that church attendance actually may underestimate the grip that religion has on people. If you go back to 1945, belief in God, which is the item that goes back the farthest in time series, has declined in post-industrial societies. Almost all rich societies show some decline. This looks like a case for the traditional secularization thesis.
One of the things that virtually all traditional religions do is emphasize the dictum of go forth and multiply; be fruitful, have children. They emphasize a number of things that strengthen the family, that discourage childbirth outside of family but encourage it within the family: preserve the family, emphasize maintaining strong family ties and do not engage in any kind of sexual behavior that isn’t conducive to having children. One can analyze this in a sort of survival-oriented mode. It is conducive to survival in a world in which you have to have five or six children, because of high infant mortality rates and death rates, to simply replenish the population. The emphasis on fertility is linked with survival. Although I can think of a few religions that actually emphasize celibacy, they aren’t around anymore. The Shakers left furniture but not much else. The religions that became great world religions, one way or another, were encouraging people to have children, I think for reasons that societally make a lot of good sense. It was a functional emphasis and most religions emphasized it.
But secularization is linked with the rise of the industrial society. One of the things that happens in post-industrial society is a dramatic decline in fertility rates. This is strongly linked with religiosity. We find, the many things linked with this dimension of the question of whether religion is important or it’s not important are at the religion-is-important end of the scale. Emphasis is on having many children and on traditional family roles. And secularization has a joker in it. It tends to bring, in the long run, dramatically declining fertility rates. That is the reason that empirically, although virtually all advanced industrial societies have been moving toward secular orientations, it is also true that the world as a whole has more people with traditional religious beliefs than ever before. The biggest single reason is that secularization leads to cultural changes that bring a huge decrease in fertility rates, from five or six children per woman to, in the average advanced industrial society, 1.6; and in some countries, Spain and Italy, for example, the rate is 1.2 children.
This is way below replacement level and it is why the societies that emphasize traditional religious values are becoming a bigger share of the world’s population. So religion shows no sign whatever of declining. Though secularization has a genuine logic to it and has been at work, it is its own gravedigger in the long run. Things may change; I will not attempt to predict the future, but there has been a huge differential on fertility rates, so that modernization has not had the effect of shoving religion off the map. In fact, religion is alive and flourishing, and by calculations that are pretty straightforward, the percentage of the world’s population that has traditional religious beliefs is a larger share of the world’s population today than 20 years ago.
MR. LUGO: And, Ron, just as a point of information — the replacement rate is 2.1. Isn’t that what demographers tell us?
MR. INGLEHART: Right. So if you’re at 1.6 you’re way short. We’re running out of Italians. In some countries, it’s way below replacement. In fact, virtually all advanced industrial societies have below-replacement fertility rates. The U.S. is an exception because of immigration.
RICHARD LAND [PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION’S ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION]: The U.S. is at 2.1?
MR. INGLEHART: Right.
MR. LAND: It’s the anomaly. It is actually right at replacement rate.
MR. INGLEHART: Yes, and if you took on immigration — if you took on Hispanic immigration particularly, you’d be below replacement. There is another interesting phenomenon. I mention it ahead of time. There is a new kind of religious orientation that some people might not even call religion, but it is compatible with a religious outlook. It is much less authoritarian, a much less absolutist set of beliefs, but we find increasing emphasis on the growing numbers of people who say that they often spend time thinking about the meaning and purpose of life. This is linked with a variety of phenomena: new-age religion, the sense that the whales are sacred, that nature is sacred. This is a growing phenomenon, so I would say in the post-industrial phase, spiritual concerns take on a new lease in life. There seem to be two phases of cultural change — one phase is linked to industrialization, which brings a shift from traditional to secular rational values, and post-industrial society, or the knowledge society, which brings a quite different kind of cultural shift. And there is much literature on modernization, industrialization, bureaucratization, rationalization and secularization. But there is much less written on this recent phenomenon, which we’re just beginning to digest. The rise of post-industrial society — empirically, the World Values Survey shows this quite robustly — is linked with cultural change in a different direction, from survival values to self-expression values; and self-expression values are more open to ideas, imagination and spiritual concerns, in a broad sense. The two dimensions each tap dozens of items in the World Values Survey.
Both dimensions are strongly linked with economic development, so that there is a logic linked with economic and technological change that gives rise, with a remarkable clarity, to high-income societies, as defined by the World Bank. These societies are relatively high on both dimensions. All low-income societies, as defined by the World Bank, are relatively low on both dimensions. It’s very rare in social science that you find such clarity — you nearly always find an exception here and there. This is a very coherent pattern. It is complicated by the fact that a society’s traditional cultural heritage is quite dramatically persistent. The fact that a society was traditionally formed by Protestantism means that, even though in most of the countries of Protestant Europe, church attendance is down to 10 percent, 5 percent in some cases, 15 percent maybe, on a weekly basis, they remain very distinctively Protestant. The fact that they were shaped by Protestantism has left a quite perceptible and similar pattern of values on Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, West Germany, Iceland and Finland. Similarly, the nations of Catholic Europe have a distinctive cultural integrity. There is also an English-speaking pattern.
On one hand, you can predict where a nation falls on this map to a considerable degree simply by knowing its gross domestic product per capita. There are a couple of other things that go with this. Knowing the nature of the workforce helps too, but economic determinism takes you pretty far, and then historic heritage is necessary to fill it in. And in a multiple-regression model, I find that I can locate the average society using those two factors — economics and cultural heritage — within a small circle. Value systems are predictable. You have to take history as well as economics into account, but where a nation falls is surprisingly coherent in terms of social science explanations.
One of the questions that I was asked to address is what are the implications of all this for foreign policy. One implication is that the rich democracies have been moving, in the two decades we’ve carried out the World Values Surveys, toward self-expression values, which are strongly linked with democracy. They’re linked also with tolerance of out-groups, gender equality, tolerance of gays and lesbians, environmental protection awareness — a whole cluster of things. The rich countries have been moving a little toward secularization and quite a bit toward more emphasis on self-expression values. The developing countries have been moving toward self-expression values and toward significantly more emphasis on traditional religion. Not only are they’re not secularizing, they are placing more emphasis on traditional religion.
We see this in the generational changes. In rich countries, it seems almost like a law of nature; the old are more religious than the young. In low-income countries, the young may be as religious as or more religious than the old. The generational shift, if anything, is toward stronger religiosity. So we see a growing gap opening up between the worldviews of the rich, developed countries and the developing countries. The former communist countries, especially the Soviet Union, have moved in a slightly retrograde direction — not a lot — but toward more traditional values and survival values. This is linked with the theory that emphasis on existential security is conducive to this kind of change. And existential security has not been increasing, especially in the former Soviet Union, where living standards have been falling, the society has come apart, the belief system has collapsed, crime is widespread and, in the case of Russia, life expectancy itself has fallen significantly. It’s not that the times are taking everyone in the same direction; it’s more specifically that existential security has pervasive effects on belief systems and value systems.
So, we see some retrograde movement. But we also see, in a basic sense, that although the thesis would indicate the global village is very comforting and that it creates a convergence, in fact, we don’t find convergence. What we find over the last 20 years has been a growing gap between the basic values of the relatively secular and permissive — open to things like gays and gender equality, a number of changes that are going against traditional religious values, and a growing emphasis on traditional religion in the developing world. This is one possible source of conflict. I would say different values are by no means an inevitable source of conflict. It is, however, a potential fault line that could incite conflict.
The question was, is religion getting hotter in the world? Our best indicator of this is the answer to the question I’ve already mentioned: How important is God in your life?
Global resurgence of religion is much too simple an explanation. It’s becoming a more important basis of cleavage, but then you find one other thing. This is much too early to form a conclusion on. I am looking forward with great eagerness to seeing the results of the current World Values Survey, which is now in the field.
MR. LUGO: Thank you. We’ve asked one of our group members, who has also been plowing this field for quite a while, my colleague, Andy Kohut, with the Global Attitudes Project, to just offer a few words of comment based on what he has heard.
Thank you also for coming. I know you came from an interview on your new book, America Against the World: How We are Different and Why We are Disliked, which has just come out, so we appreciate you being with us as well.
ANDREW KOHUT: I’m happy to be here. I’m a great admirer of the World Values Project and the role that Ron has played in bringing together this terrific resource for social scientists. I used it extensively in my book, which is about how the American people are different from people in other parts of the world, especially Europeans, and I have lots of agreement with much of what you said. I also have some areas where I have a different point of view, based on your own data and what I see in our data — not so much about the differences between advanced nations and developing nations or poorer nations, but the way you characterize First-World nations.
I think that you understate the American exception. The word you used, was that it was a “bit” of an exception. It’s not a bit of an exception; it’s a major exception. It’s a major exception that counts a lot, given who we are in the world. And there is no indication in the data, by the way, in our data or in the Gallup data, that American religiosity has been on the decline in the past 30 years. There has been a rise in the percentage of seculars, but that’s been more than offset by the increasing percentage of religious people who are intensely religious. I find a lot of the portrayals of advanced nations almost Eurocentric. It seems to be describing Western Europe. It’s hard to describe Eastern Europe because it’s so confused by the communist experience. You’ve got Poland, on one hand, and the Russians coming back. We just hold that aside. Let’s make the comparisons between the United States and Western Europe where it’s really cleaner.
And a lot of this decline is really pretty modest. I looked at this chart, which is “Belief in God: The Trend Since 1945 to 2001,” and my calculation, at this rate of change, is that it will take 327 years for the people in the West to no longer believe in God, for a belief in God to completely disappear in Western nations. I think, in short, given the broad sweep of history, you’re right; religion may be in decline in the West, but it has a very long way to go.
On the issue of American values, I completely agree with what you said, that to say American values are moving to the right is absolutely wrong-headed; but the idea that there is a declining segment of people that hold traditional values, I think, is equally wrong. It’s a mixture of both. We see increased liberalism in views about homosexuality and values with respect to women’s roles. We see a more conservative trend with respect to some religious beliefs, opinions about recreational drug use, even more conservative views about abortion than 30 years ago. And, in many cases, on many major social values, there is no change. I think the best example of that are opinions about creationism versus evolution. If you look at the trend data, it’s the same as it was 30 years ago.
Similarly, the biggest disagreement I have is a statement that says class voting has been replaced by values voting. That’s flat-out wrong. Values voting has joined class voting. E.J. Dionne, a friend and colleague, has done a really terrific job, and I’m not going to steal his thunder. He’s written a book called The Left and Right Hands of God, analyzing the exit polls of 2004. He shows how clearly there is a push-pull between class and religion — class on one hand, religion on the other. I’ll just give you a couple of highlights. There is a 65-percentage-point gap in the difference between whites and blacks voting for Bush. I know you know which direction that goes in. But even among whites there is a 20-percentage-point gap between the poorest whites and the most affluent whites in the percentage voting for Bush. Class, income and education still matter. And most recently, in our polls, the decline in Bush’s approval ratings among people who go to church weekly or more often is 17 points, as high as it is among the public at large.
The whole values thing as a determinant of the 2004 election was greatly overstated. I’ve been talking about this since election night — the flawed question in the exit poll about moral values. The reality of it is Bush made greater gains. It has been said that something about the same-sex vote referendums tipped it toward Bush. I don’t think so. Bush made much more gains in terms of his share of vote among the least religious people, not among the most religious people, between 2000 and 2004. Religion and values do matter a great deal in American politics, much more than 30 years ago, but they are not the only thing, and E.J.’s book, which should have been called Yes, But is a terrific description of that.
Second, implicit in your writings and thinking is the premise that traditional religious belief and modernity in modern views about things are inconsistent. If you look at the differences between less-developed countries and affluent countries, you would get that impression. However, if you look deeply into America, Australia, Canada or anyplace else actually, you see a good deal of coexistence between religious belief and modern views. I’ll give you just a few. The percentage of people who support stem cell research conducted on human embryos is 55 percent among Catholics and even 33 percent among evangelical Christians. Support for not overturning Roe v. Wade is 62 percent among Catholics and 48 percent among white evangelical Protestants.
My colleague, John Green, has done a very refined typology of the confluence of religious belief and political attitudes. There is 26 percent of the population he describes as evangelical Protestant, but only 13 percent is traditional evangelicals, 11 percent as centrist evangelicals, and 3 percent as modernist evangelicals. Among Catholics, the number is even more lopsided: 18 percent overall, but just 4 percent traditional or conservative Catholic, the bulk, 13 percent, is either centrist or modern.
MR. LUGO: And those are white Catholics?
MR. KOHUT: Those are white Catholics, yes.
MR. INGLEHART: Are they white evangelicals also?
MR. KOHUT: Yes. Finally, the idea that conservatives are fighting a rear-guard action against cultural change, at least here and, I suspect, in many other places, as a backlash against modernism is, to a certain extent, true. But I also think those correlations between the way fundamentalists and people with traditional beliefs feel about the West, or feel about certain aspects of the West, also reflect and are bound up in economic, ethnic and class discontents. It’s not all values. It’s a mixture of things. That is my overall take on many of these things. It all seems to be too much one way, when it’s really a mixture of things, in many respects.
MR. LUGO: Thank you. Very helpful. Ron, don’t feel obliged to answer all of those, but if you could pick a couple of them and then we’ll get others into the conversation.
MR. INGLEHART: I thought that my whole talk emphasized that it’s not all one way, that secularization is much more complex than has been stated. I would, of course, not claim that social class has ceased to exist. Clearly, it is continuing to function as one of the influences.
What I was driving home in one part of my presentation is the interpretation that values issues have become much more important than they used to be. They have not made social class drop off the map, which would be an astounding phenomenon. I think that economic issues will always be with us. But my point was that religious and cultural issues matter more. When I was a grad student, I remember the right answer to the question: What does the left-right mean? It means nationalization of industry, government regulation of industry and income redistribution. There was no mention of any of these issues about gender equality, gays and lesbians or cultural ethnicity. These issues were not even on the charts at a splendid institution like the University of Chicago in those days.
It’s not that social class has vanished; I certainly would agree it has not. But I would say that the hot issues increasingly have become cultural and values issues. And, I would emphasize, that is what the new thing has been. In addition, I may have said in an intentionally dry understatement that the U.S. is a “bit” of an exception, but I do not disagree with you, Andy, on that point. If you go back to my example of the cultural map of the world, it’s quite clearly a rather dramatic exception.
It’s clearly a bit of an exception. It’s quite a bit of an exception. I certainly didn’t dwell on it. In a model where more attention is paid to economic factors, the fact that the U.S. is a very rich society that is still very religious is very interesting. It is not implicit in the model. This is one example in which the historical tradition of a specific country is a great, big part of the story. I would love to have a simple one-factor model that would explain everything, but when I try and work on it, it becomes quite clear you need a multivariate model. And in the model where I proudly said I can pinpoint countries within this relatively small circle, there are five variables. GNP per capita or purchasing parity estimates is one of them, but cultural heritage is also very important.
I could give answers about why the U.S. is such a dramatic exception, and my colleague Wayne Baker has written a book on this based on these data. It is linked perhaps with the fact that the U.S. was founded by religious dissidents who placed great emphasis on religion in coming here and, surprisingly, seemed to have transmitted this intense religiosity to successive waves of immigrants. This is ad hoc after the fact. The model would not predict that the U.S. would be where it is, but the U.S. is a big outlier, and, of course, that helps shape a lot of things in the U.S. The U.S. is much more religious than other rich societies. Ireland is equal to it but also moving toward secularization. The U.S. is a fascinating and important exception.
MR. LUGO: Could I just ask you to comment very quickly, before we get to others, on these Weberian ideal types of modern and traditional that you mentioned. I think Andy’s point was that, in fact, people don’t necessarily have to move off the traditional in order to be modern, that those two things can coexist in the context of single persons and even societies. What about that larger point that it doesn’t necessarily have to move away from tradition in order to be modern?
MR. INGLEHART: One has to move away from some aspects of tradition to be modern. The medieval Christian worldview, I think, was incompatible with capitalism, economic development, individual economic accumulation, etc. But it’s quite obvious we have not dumped Christianity; it is still alive and well. Any model that is black and white — 100 percent black or 100 percent white — is unlikely to hold up in empirical evidence. I would say that there are some very important differences from a traditional worldview that emphasized absolute laws, absolute beliefs of things like divorce, abortion, birth control as evil and leading to damnation. There are changes in degree. I certainly do not see any evidence at all of the disappearance of religion, but I do see massive changes. Another big change is the extent to which the masses are willing to be dictated to in how to live their lives — it’s a more individualistic kind of religion.