Mission and Mammon: A Survey

One-quarter of working Americans say they often or always view their work as a mission from God, according to a Baylor University survey that examines relations between religion and work.

The latest Baylor Religion Survey, released last fall, showed direct connections between religious belief and work attitudes among Americans.

“It’s intriguing that our findings suggest faith beliefs can shape motivations and attitudes toward work, and yet so few churches promote discussions of work issues,” said Mitchell J. Neubert, a management professor in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

“When churches do speak about those issues, few seem to speak positively about profit and starting a business, both of which are critical for vibrant local economies.”

Only 15 percent of respondents say their congregations encourage them to start a business.

The survey summary reported other findings:

• Individuals who attend religious services regularly and those who take a literal view of the bible are more likely to attribute religious significance to their work.

• Women, African Americans, older workers and Southerners are more likely to attach religious meaning to work.

• More than a third say they pursue excellence in work because of their faith.

• Encouragement of business activity in secular life is most prominent in African American churches and in megachurches of 2,000 or more worshipers.

• American entrepreneurs pray and meditate more than non-entrepreneurs do. One-third pray several times a day or meditate, the survey says. “The differences (between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs) are modest but meaningful,” said Kevin D. Dougherty, a Baylor sociology professor. “It could be that the stress and struggle of new business ventures drive people to their knees.”

Source: www.baylor.edu/2011religionsurvey