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Study: Belief that 'God Has a Plan' Tied to Less Support for Gov't Programs


"They think the economy works because God wants it to work."

The vast majority of Americans -- 73 percent -- believe that "God has a plan" for their lives, with only 27 percent claiming that they disagree with this statement.

Considering the fact that the majority of the nation believes in the existence of a higher power, Baylor University researchers note that this isn't entirely surprising.

However, another finding associated with those who strongly believe that God has a plan for their lives is, indeed, worth noting. According to a new Baylor study entitled, "The Values and Beliefs of the American Public," those who believe that God has a plan for their lives tend to be less supportive of government programs. Christianity Today's Tobin Grant reports:

Those who agreed more strongly were more likely to see financial success as the result of hard work and ability. As a result, they were also least supportive of government programs that help those out of work.

In this instance, people are more likely to think that the government is doing too much, as 53 percent of those with strong beliefs in this area were the most likely to believe that the government is overreaching. On the flip side, only one-third of individuals who don't believe in God see the government as overreaching.

When asking people to agree or disagree with the following statement, "able-bodied people who are out of work shouldn't receive unemployment checks," researchers also found that those who strongly believe in God's plan are more likely to agree. Christianity Today provides more information on the disparity:

Three-quarters of those who do not believe in God's plan believe that government should provide unemployment aid to those out of work.

USA Today's Cathy Ann Grossman covers some of the study's other findings, which focus about how peoples' views on God impacts their thoughts on the economy. One in five Americans hold a combined view that the Lord is actively engaged in daily worldly happenings, while also taking on an economically conservative view. This latter ideal opposes the government getting involved in regulatory processes and sees the free market as what Grossman calls "a matter of faith."

"They say the invisible hand of the free market is really God at work," explains sociologist and study co-author Paul Froese. "They think the economy works because God wants it to work. It's a new religious economic idealism." He further explains that some politicians are calling upon God while pushing for less government. Froese continues:

"When Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann say 'God blesses us, God watches us, God helps us,' religious conservatives get the shorthand. They see 'government' as a profane object — a word that is used to signal working against God's plan for the United States. To argue against this is to argue with their religion."

Of course, these weren't the only subjects covered in the study. Heaven and hell, the tenets of liberalism and conservatism, the religious characteristics of entrepreneurs and the American dream are some of the other subjects that are tackled by Baylor researchers.

(h/t Christianity Today)

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