Religion and the Job Crisis : What do Believers Think?

As the nation struggles with a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, Baylor University’s Institute of Religion has conducted a survey with the mission to answer the question, “How does religion affect how Americans feel about the job crisis?”

Released last Tuesday, the findings include that Americans who believe that God has a plan for their lives are more likely to think the government “does too much”, oppose unemployment benefits for healthy people, and believe in the “American dream.”

But how many Americans believe God has a plan for their lives? According to the 1,714 adults chosen randomly by the Texas-based Baptist University, 40.9 percent said they "strongly agree" that "God has a plan for me," while 32.2 percent "agree that He does, 12.3 percent "disagree" and 14.6 percent "strongly disagree."

To analyze the results further, The Christian Post reached out to Jim Case, a professional faith-based life coach and founder of Compass Christian Coaching, a company that works with individuals to find and follow God’s plan for their lives.

“There are obvious political overtones and theological undertones to this survey. But as believers in a God that says that He is Sovereign and good, we are in perfect relationship with Him. He is in control. There is a sense of internal confidence that remains steadfast during whatever circumstances that affects our lives which includes job loss and economic turmoil,” said Case who is also a seminary-trained theologian and corporate chaplain.

“Generally, people who believe in government deregulation believe in God's plan,” said survey researcher Paul Froese.

But why would a believer in God’s plan think that the government does too much? Jim told CP that it’s not so much about the government doing too much as it is about a believer’s outlook during unemployment and how they choose to react during those stages of economic downtown.

“People have been trained to wait on the government. They don’t even think of the church as much of the solution,” said Case who encourages Americans to turn to the church more so than the government in times of job crisis.

“If there were more people in unity with each other under the belief in an abundant God, there would be an opportunity for them to address their community’s needs in ways so that the government wouldn’t have to fill the void,” he explains.

However, there are many ways where the government’s system affect’s one’s financial life. Unemployment benefits are one of them.

“A person with faith in a God who has the energy to care for the needs of others is not going to be critical of a person collecting unemployment. They are going to realize that unemployment can be one of God’s forms of provisions,” Case said.

As President Barack Obama pushes a $447 billion job creation bill, it is evident that Americans often rely on the government to fix the high unemployment rate and large economic woes.

“It’s an entitlement mindset that is brought and strengthened. I’m not stating that not as a criticism but as an objective reality,” said Case.

Ultimately Case views the survey results as an opportunity for believers in America to view the job crisis as a call for personal or spiritual action.

“A life in faith and belief is meant to produce. It’s meant to produce a life that overcomes difficult circumstances. It does not despair and does not resort giving up. It does not fall into unremitting anxiety because they are not alone,” said Case.

In addition to attempting to figure out how religious and non-religious individuals view the job crisis, the survey also explored religion as it relates to health, education, income and cultural issues.

The latest analyses were carried out by researchers at Baylor's Department of Sociology and Hankamer School of Business and funded by Baylor University, with support from the National Science Foundation and the John M. Templeton Foundation.

The survey participants answered more than 300 items in the Baylor Religion Survey that was designed by Baylor University scholars, conducted by The Gallup Organization in the fall of 2010 and announced at the Religion Newswriters Association conference last weekend in North Carolina.