Does Religion Make Any Difference?
Today it seams to be a certain consensus in pointing out that the main problem of a modern society is to answer to the challenge of pluralism without forgetting the aims of social cohesion, equality, liberty and justice.
But pluralism is not a mere amount of different behaviours it is based on common bases that allow each one to chose, and develop, the kind of life he or she wants.
Religion has traditionally have a pre-eminent place in the definition of a pluralistic society even if nowadays there are many other variables used to give sense to life projects and to question the statu-quo.
In that conditions which are the functions of religions in modern societies? It is difficult to find in present days a researcher who has not thought about the subject often to underline the role that religion can play in our societies and not only for believers. As one example, Habermas has pointed out that religion articulates the conscience of what has failed and is still missing in our societies.
In an individual level, religion is considered a good tool to be more confident and to face life in a more honest manner.
But, do we have any test to check if all this is in fact happening? Are those that declare their self as religious more honest? Do they trust more the others? Do they participate more in social organizations aiming to create better societies? Which are the variables that go along with religion in the explanation of the possible differences? Does the increasing religious plurality reflect pluralism based in common values?
I will try to answer to these questions comparing three countries (Spain, Germany, Sweden) and using the data of both the European as well as the World Values Surveys.