Another interesting review article on the psychology of religious belief, this time from New Scientist. Of particular interest here is the assertion of a connection between hard times and authoritarian religious forms:
[H]uman beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.