Gregory Paul, a freelance researcher/artist/author in the field of paleontology since the late 1970's, has recently put out an essay on the socio-economic impact of religion, "The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions." At the end of the second page is this line:
"...the development of a middle class majority that is sufficiently financially and socially secure due to progressive secular socioeconomic policies consistently results in a serious and measurable decline in religiosity." [emphasis added.]
Ahhhh, now we can understand why the religious right in the U.S.A. opposes and attacks government regulations and social programs with such fervor (and why they hate and resent the example of western Europe).
However, he makes an epistemoligical error conflating "religion"/"going to church" with spirituality; in my experience, people who score the highest on "religiosity" are the least spiritual people. According to the science of inherited preferences, 40% of the population are SJ/Conservatives; 40% SP/Artisans; 10% NT/Rationals; and 10% NF/Idealists. The SP's and NF's together are what the Conservatives call "Liberals", with the Rationals pretty much ignored in the national debate.
The problem isn't that there are these four groups, or that each one has certain characteristic qualities; the problem is trying to force the other groups to be like you. In my personal experience, the SP's, NF's, and NT's are all open to learning about this, and accepting the need to not force the way they are on other groups or individuals. The SJ/Conservatives, however, don't seem to want to know about it; they just see the way they are as the right way to be, and they think all the problems of the world are because of lack of conservatism.
The Conservatives are high in shame but low in compassion (their lack of compassion matches the psychopaths' lack of compassion, hence the Unholy Alliance). The SP's are the mirror image of the SJ's in this regard: high on compassion, but low on shame (the Conservatives like to decry the Liberals as "shameless"). The SJ's obsession with stability and security can bring benefits to society, so they do not need to be eliminated; however, their genetic inability to feel compassion means they cannot be allowed to be in charge, at any level, in business or government.
The rest of us - who make up 60% of the population - have a right to defend ourselves against the threat that the Conservatives represent. The culture of leaving people to fend for themselves is an environment that selects for the qualities of the psychopath: ignorant, arrogant, shallow, greedy and callous. People who love that culture are evil people, and should not be treated with respect or given the benefit of the doubt.
There is no limit to the value of the scientific method. America is not magical. Reality does exist here. Everything that everyone does affects everyone else in some way to some degree; so, you are not free to do whatever you want. You are not free to be whoever you want. You are not free to believe whatever you want. The truth is good; the lie is evil.