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God-fearing countries are among the least wealthy—with one notable exception

The tie between religion and economic prosperity is not a new discovery. But whether changes in religious belief precede economic growth, or economic growth foreshadows a more secular society is, however, up for debate.

German sociologist and economist Max Weber argued that the introduction of Protestantism and Calvinism gave rise to the capitalist spirit in his 1905 book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” French sociologist Emile Durkheim however, argued that economic growth leads to a decline in religion.

A new study found the opposite: secularization precedes economic development. However, only when it is accompanied by acceptance and tolerance for individual rights.

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