We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Capitalism & Christianity

According to data published by the Public Religion Research Institute, a "plurality of Americans believe capitalism is at odds with Christian values."  As the graph (taken from the news posting) shows, some 44% of Americans agree with the statement that capitalism is at odds with Christian values while 36% disagree.  The report notes that a large number of Democrats agreed with the proposition while a less substantial but still large number of Republicans did not.  Independents were split nearly evenly on the question.

The data published on the PRRI website also shows that roughly six in ten Americans believe that the growing gap between rich and poor is one of the biggest problems our nation faces.  Even more (about 2/3rds) agree that wealthier Americans should pay more taxes than the rest of us.

These results are remarkable given our society's overwhelming commitment to the capitalist economic system, at least in principle if not in practice.  They also reinforce the sense that conservative and liberal Americans tend to live in significantly different worlds.  Our views on such things as economics and our understanding of our faith are both driven by our larger worldview.  The tragedy is that we are even less able to talk across the gap between us than were previous generations.  We all know this is true but don't seem to be able to do anything about it.