The Almighty Rich

| July - August 2008

It is during hard times, according to armchair pundits and lionized political philosophers, when even the most hardened skeptic will find God. In India, however, a recent study conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies indicates that among the ascendant middle class, it’s the trappings of a well-to-do lifestyle that have led to an increase in religiosity. According to the New Humanist (March-April 2008), 30 percent of the study’s respondents said they had become more, not less, religious over the past five years, and that increase could be linked directly to an upwardly mobile, urban lifestyle. It seems the bourgeoisie, uneasy about their prosperity, pray to jagrit, or awake gods, whose blessing extends over daily life, for help with such challenges as money management and success at work. Add these findings to the unparalleled growth of megachurches in the suburban United States, and you can’t help but wonder if it’s time for those who explain away fundamentalism by focusing on social alienation and economic hardship to reexamine their belief systems.