Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Righteousness Vis-a-Vis Prosperity Metrics

Brigham Young said once

The worst fear that I have about [members of this Church] is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches.
In his novel Empire Falls, Richard Russo writes of his character Tick,
It was easier to believe in God, she said, or at least the possibility of God, on Martha's Vineyard than it was in Empire Falls. Miles knew what she meant, understood the bitter irony. Half the cars in the Vineyard chapel's lot were either Mercedes or Lexuses. No surprise that their owners believed that God was in His heaven.
So which is it: do riches make you more believing or less believing? If we use obedience to commandments as a proxy for belief, we can regress tithing payment, Word of Wisdom compliance, Sunday worship, and temple attendance on income. (Other variables of interest might include education level, education venue, family size, marital status, legacy of membership (how many generations ago was the first convert?), missionary service, employment, and years spent living in a heavily-Mormon environment.)

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