Religion, Just World Beliefs and Perspectives on Wealth Inequality
Religion exists in every continent across the globe and has been a topic of philosophical and scientific interest for years. There is, however, little conclusive research regarding the ideological functions of religious belief. The present research aims to provide insight into these functions by exploring the thesis that religion encourages just world beliefs and consequently influences poverty attributions and views on wealth. Data was collected from 359 New Zealanders via online surveys which measured identification with organised religion, fundamentalist religious beliefs, just world beliefs, attributions for the causes of poverty and views on equality. Spearman’s correlational analysis showed identification with organised religion and fundamentalist religious beliefs were associated with belief in a just world, internal attributions for the causes of poverty and opposition to equality. Neither identification with organised religion nor religious fundamentalism were associated with belief in a just social system. Hierarchical linear regression analyses showed that, (a) relationships between religious identification and just world beliefs, poverty attributions and perspectives on wealth equality were all entirely accounted for by religious fundamentalism; (b) belief in a just world partially accounted for relationships between religious fundamentalism, poverty attributions and views on equality, however, religious fundamentalism predicted these variables independent of belief in a just world; (c) poverty attributions entirely accounted for relationships between religious fundamentalism, belief in a just world and perspectives on equality. These findings suggest that religious fundamentalism is responsible for relationships between religion, just world beliefs, poverty attributions and perspectives on equality. Relationships between religion, attributions for the causes of poverty and perspectives on equality cannot be attributed entirely to just world beliefs. Attributions for the causes of poverty are responsible for relationships between religious fundamentalism, just world beliefs and opposition to equality.