In 1517, a German priest named Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Since that time, regions that adopted Protestantism have grown more affluent than did regions that maintained their Catholic roots—a trend that another German, the sociologist Max Weber, attempted to explain in 1905. In his classic work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber contends that Protestants’ harder-working ways...

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