I took my first graduate course about 50 years ago at the University of Puerto Rico. The professor was from Austria. I remember being stunned when he said, “The religiosity of a group is determined by how much uncertainty there is in economic life.” Such a thought had never occurred to me.
This concept is being discussed again. Scholars are suddenly interested in why some countries and continents remain quite religious while in others it is fading.
An interesting observation was made recently about the nations of Russia and Czechoslovakia. After the break up of the old Soviet Union, Russia went the capitalist route privatizing vast industries. Employment was uncertain and medical and social programs were eliminated. Religious participation, suppressed for many decades, skyrocketed.
Czechoslovakia took an different path. It increased public spending on education, health and social services. People worried less about their future circumstances than did people in Russia. Religious participation has plummeted.
One would have to guess just as many people in Czechoslovakia heard the Bible and were warned of their eternity in hell as in Russia. The social forces acting on Czechoslovakians caused them to not buy it.
Sometimes U. S. religiosity is attributed to lack of a European state religion–that competing churches sell the faith and keep it alive. The real reason may be the uncertainty experienced in U. S. capitalism.
When people the world over face uncertainty, they search for some way to control things. Thinking about a god helps them.