February 24, 2021

Economix Blog: Affiliation, Before and After Scandal

In the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that is roiling Penn State’s football program, some are wondering whether there could be long-term effects on recruiting, donations and the long-term reputation of the university.

Many experts in higher education who have seen other universities weather crises expect the impact of the events at Penn State to fade within a year. But another precedent for how people might react is the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandals that rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the last decade.

A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted in 2008 found that Americans who had left Catholicism had done so for many reasons, including unhappiness with the church’s position on abortion or homosexuality, disagreement with teachings on birth control, and the feeling that their spiritual needs were not being met. But the survey also found that about a quarter of those saying they had abandoned Catholicism cited sexual abuse by members of the clergy as a reason for either leaving religion altogether or affiliating with a different denomination.

A new study by Daniel M. Hungerman, an economist at the University of Notre Dame, estimates that the Catholic Church in the United States lost about two million members — or 3 percent of its American membership — because of the sexual abuse scandals, and that donations to other religious groups rose by $3 billion in the five years after the first significant news reports of the abuses.

Using data from the Official Catholic Directory, the General Social Survey (which is conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago), the Pew Forum and the Southern Baptist Convention, Mr. Hungerman concludes that disaffected Catholics who have cited the abuse scandals as a primary reason for leaving the church have joined denominations that — unlike, say, the Episcopal Church — are not necessarily very similar to Catholicism.

In fact, Mr. Hungerman’s analysis concludes that Southern Baptists, as well as other denominations quite different from Catholicism, have gained a notable number of new members who fled the Catholic Church. “It could be that Catholics came to associate the scandal with some constellation of attributes provided by the Catholic Church, and so defecting Catholics sought out groups with entirely different attributes,” Mr. Hungerman wrote.

The Pew Forum data cited by Mr. Hungerman showed that of those who left Catholicism because of the abuse scandals, 6 percent converted to a Baptist church and 17 percent converted to “other Christian” churches, defined as separate from the “mainline” Protestant denominations like the Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians, which drew 8 percent of those Catholics disaffected by the scandals. Only 2 percent joined Episcopalian congregations.

Of course, Catholics may have joined another denomination for entirely different reasons. Instead of making a protest decision, they may simply have changed churches because of geography, the influence of friends, availability of children’s programs and other pastoral services and the atmosphere in a particular community.

In fact, the largest group of people who left Catholicism as a result of the scandals were the 51 percent who were “unaffiliated” with any religion, according to the Pew data. That is very similar to the 54 percent of lapsed Catholics who became unaffiliated simply because they had “drifted away” from their faith.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=402d607ba38fd5748a45e90d890d8cf3

Top Down: Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?

The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.

On the other end are Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists. In each case, 20 percent or fewer of followers made at least $75,000. Remarkably, the share of Baptist households making $40,000 or less is roughly the same as the share of Reform Jews making $100,000 or more. Overall, Protestants, who together are the country’s largest religious group, are poorer than average and poorer than Catholics. That stands in contrast to the long history, made famous by Max Weber, of Protestant nations generally being richer than Catholic nations.

Many factors are behind the discrepancies among religions, but one stands out. The relationship between education and income is so strong that you can almost draw a line through the points on this graph. Social science rarely produces results this clean.

What about the modest outliers — like Unitarians, Buddhists and Orthodox Christians, all of whom are less affluent than they are educated (and are below the imaginary line)? One possible explanation is that some religions are more likely to produce, or to attract, people who voluntarily choose lower-paying jobs, like teaching.

Another potential explanation is discrimination. Scott Keeter of Pew notes that researchers have used more sophisticated versions of this sort of analysis to look for patterns of marketplace discrimination. And a few of the religions that make less than their education would suggest have largely nonwhite followings, including Buddhism and Hinduism. Pew also created a category of traditionally black Protestant congregations, and it was somewhat poorer than could be explained by education levels. These patterns don’t prove discrimination, but they raise questions.

Some of the income differences probably stem from culture. Some faiths place great importance on formal education. But the differences are also self-reinforcing. People who make more money can send their children to better schools, exacerbating the many advantages they have over poorer children. Round and round, the cycle goes. It won’t solve itself.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6dd4c72cdd345d8084276552ce11ddb1