New psychology research reveals that belief in supernatural evil is linked to more stringent immigration expectations

New psychology research reveals that belief in supernatural evil is linked to more stringent immigra ...

The results of a research published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that believing in supernatural evil is a strong predictor of more restrictive immigration attitudes. People who advocate strict boundaries between spiritual good and evil may also see a clear distinction between in-groups and out-groups in the real world.

Different aspects of religion have a varying effect on a person''s immigration beliefs, according to previous research. For example, more frequent service attendance has been linked to increased openness toward immigrants, while ideologies that combine nationalism and religion, such as Christian Nationalism, have been linked to more restrictive attitudes towards immigrants.

The authors of the study found that belief in supernatural evil may be the foundation of religious beliefs on immigration. This distinction may then spread to the material world, where an explicit line is drawn between members of the group and them. This may result in immigrants being demonized and posed as threats to society.

I was interested in exploring the religious origins of immigration attitudes in previous research, therefore the possibility of connections here piqued my interest.

Spiritual warfare, the idea of a cosmic conflict between good and evil occurring at a spiritual level, is a common meta-narrative in several American Christianity practices, according to Joshua C. Tom, an assistant professor at Seattle Pacific University. This spiritual conflict is often conflated with in every-day reality, particularly when it comes to culture-war issues.

A larger conflict between supernatural forces puts what might otherwise be merely human discord. A lot of research suggests that these beliefs influence a lot of attitudes and behaviors even when controlling for other social, political, and religious attributes.

Belief in supernatural evil is commonplace and dangerous, according to East Tennessee State University professor Joseph O. Baker. When I started research on this topic 15 years ago, there was no research on the subject in the social sciences, except for a handful of small-scale studies in social psychology.

Both in terms of religious maturity and growing up in a religious conservatism (southern Appalachia), I suspected there were a significant number of possible connections between religious evil and other critical issues in both psychology and sociology. So I decided to develop a way to explore supernatural evil in the social sciences.

The researchers conducted a study of data from the Baylor Religion Survey, a national survey of the American population conducted by Gallup in 2014. The survey included questions about religious attitudes and behaviors, and a total of 1,572 responses were collected.

Two questions pertaining to immigration, one about restrictions and controlling who enters the country, and one about border control spending. Moreover, participants were asked three separate questions about whether they believed in the existence of the devil/Satan, Hell, and demons. These responses were combined to create a composite measure of belief in supernatural evil.

The results reveal a strong, positive relationship between belief in supernatural evil and support for expanding federal expenditure on immigration. These connections remained significant as a result of controlling for several other factors that have been known to predict views on immigration, such as political identity, education, and identification.

This means that having a strong binary view of the spiritual world of good and evil makes it easier to see other relationships in an us/them dichotomy usually with us being good and them being bad. It is important to be mindful of how this might devolve into a process of dehumanization.

For ideas on curbing and controlling immigration, supernatural evil was the strongest predictor in the model. Only age was a stronger predictor than belief in supernatural evil.

These findings may be a result of moral panic, a phenomenon in which the public manifests an exaggerated and unjustified fear toward a group or an issue. Politic leaders in the United States have been known to employ language that depicts immigrants as invaders or criminals, presumably reducing the fear of immigrants among the public.

When we talk about immigration, Tom says, because research suggests that common features of American Christian folk theology can provide cultural tools that may lead to a dehumanizing belief about immigrants, and thus, influence how we think about immigration policy. American people who believe in supernatural evil should focus heavily on how their neighbor may relate to their own social issues.

The findings demonstrate that belief in religious evil is linked to stricter immigration views. This indicates that belief in supernatural evil plays a vital role in the relationship between religion and immigration.

According to Baker, belief in supernatural evil is more likely than other people. This is true for positions on immigration, but some research has shown that this is the case for punitive views of criminals and restrictive beliefs about gender and sexuality. This is because immigration statements are simply a form of a general misunderstanding. Supernatural evil is a shortcut to social demonization.

The researchers noted that their study was limited to an American sample and a mostly Christian cultural context. Future studies would be needed to determine whether the relationship between belief in supernatural evil and views on immigration differs in other parts of the world.

The results for our research are from the pre-Trump period, so it will be beneficial to investigate how these connections may have affected people''s immigration issues as key political flashpoints, according to Baker. Another important issue to address is to develop more deep into psychological and social processes through which beliefs about supernatural evil are linked to other things. However, different research methods, such as experimental and longitudinal designs, may be improved.

More individuals, both among the general public as well as among academic researchers, should pay more attention to beliefs and claims about supernatural evil, according to him. Supernatural evil is a vital and socially significant component of culture that is hiding in plain sight.

The study, Flowing Across with Demonic Hate, was published on April 20, 2022.

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