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Isolating causes...

Reader comment on item: God and Mammon

Submitted by Clyde (United States), Mar 5, 2009 at 12:14

I'm not sure that rapid economic expansion nec. rules out poverty as a cause of fundamentalist religion. Are we able to take societies as a whole when considering the phenomenon, despite the fact that rapid economic expansion within a given society might correlate to a rapid exaggeration of class disparities within a given society? I know that terrorist activites, specifically, have been correlated to affluence and (often western) education. Sayyd Qutb would be the paradigm example of a phenomenon that has repeated itself countless times.

That said, this does not explain the allure of religious fundamentalism to impoverished populations. I suspect the phenomenon can be seen across various societies where poverty is present and fundamentalist social opportunities are available. In dire straights, many people have a basic need for a strict moral schedule to provide rules for conduct and absolute meaning in life that transcends the immediate situation which might otherwise not provide the psychological coping tools necessary. I suspect this phenomenon can be seen in the US, as more people turn to strict religions during the impending recession as well as in cases where fundamentalist religions are practiced elsewhere in the world. This is an empirical claim so it will either be borne out or not. In your conjectures, I'm not sure that you have isolated the causes correctly or examined the situation at a finer resolution. What we choose as our entities under study, whether societies or more finely-distinguished groups within those societies, will, no doubt, affect our findings.

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