August 24, 2005
Nations where fewer people attend church tend to be more generous in their support for development in poor countries than those where church attendance is much greater, according to the third annual edition of the “Commitment to Development Index (CDI)”, published this week in Foreign Policy magazine.
The Index, a joint project of Washington-based Foreign Policy and the Center for Global Development (CGD), found that Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and Norway retained their top rankings among wealthy countries for their helpfulness to poor countries from last year. Italy, Ireland, Greece and Japan were the least helpful of the 21 countries ranked by the Index.
… Index researchers subsequently matched their results against the World Values Survey, which tracks social and cultural changes around the world, and found that those donor countries that were most supportive of development in poor countries were also less likely to have high rates of church attendance.
Denmark received the highest Index rating, yet only three percent of Danes attend church at least once a week – the lowest attendance rate of all 21 donor nations. While church attendance rose to 14 percent in second-place Netherlands, Sweden (3), Norway (5), and Finland (6) all had church attendance rates well below 10 percent.
Meanwhile, the most religiously observant country, Ireland – where nearly two-thirds of the population attend church at least once a week – ranked 19 in the Index, while the next two most-observant nations, the United States and Italy, ranked 12 and 18, respectively.
“It’s often said that one should love they neighbor as one lives oneself,” according to Foreign Policy, which noted in reference to the Index findings, however, that “where there is more preaching, there is less practicing.”
Of course, that’s not to say that America’s Christians don’t care about what happens in other, less-fortunate countries.
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