Religious Beliefs Inspire Sustainable HOPE (Help Ourselves Protect the Environment): Culture, Religion, Dogma, and Liturgy—The Matthew Effect in Religious Social Responsibility

Journal of Business Ethics 184 (3):665-685 (2023)
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China has achieved economic prominence but damaged the natural environment. Can religions excite pro-environmental actions? Chinese religion encompasses Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, native Taoism, and indigenous folk beliefs (GuanDi and Mazu). We theorize that believers demonstrate more sustainable HOPE (Help Ourselves Protect the Environment) than non-believers. Religions with standardized and formal liturgy show more pro-environmental HOPE than those without it. We challenge the myth that the believers of Christianity and Islam display more sustainable HOPE than other faith. The 2013 Chinese General Social Survey (involving 10,017 randomly selected participants across 28 provinces) revealed that 11.10% of them have faith. Believers display higher levels of HOPE than atheists, demonstrating the __religion__ effect. Among believers, native Taoism and Buddhism exhibit more ecological HOPE than other religions, supporting the __dogma__ effect in the Chinese culture. Religions with formalized liturgy demonstrate more pro-environmental HOPE than generalized folk beliefs—GuanDi and Mazu, validating the __liturgy__ effect. Females, married, and people with good income, education, health, and country-domicile—the haves—exhibit robust ecological HOPE. The rich get richer and greener. However, those who are older, males, urban residents, and the Han majority do not. We empirically demonstrate the Matthew Effect in Religious Social Responsibility: Religious faith facilitates believers’ pro-environmental behaviors—HOPE and ethical behaviors in China.



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