September 21, 2019

What Percent of Accountants Will Burn In Hell?

Are accountants more inclined or less inclined to believe in God? We are bound by the AICPA Code of Conduct to have professional skepticism, so not having religious skepticism may just be a demonstration of a healthy work/life balance.
 
A recent Pew Research Center report, America’s Changing Religious Landscape, says that in general more and more Americans are ditching God. And Millennials are unfollowing God the fastest, despite the fact that He has a fucking hilarious Twitter feed.

According to the report, the number of Americans self-reporting as “religiously unaffiliated” jumped to 22.8 percent (up from 16.1 percent in 2007). The unaffiliated group was subdivided into three groups: 
  • Atheist: 3.1% of the U.S. population. Their numbers doubled in the past 7 years despite the fact that the only thing worse than listening to a vegan talk about veganism is listening to an atheist talk about atheism.
  • Agnostic: 4.0 % of the U.S. population. Agnostics say no one can know if God exists or not. Big deal. CPAs say no one can know if financial statements are free of material misstatements, but we still give an opinion. Despite the fact that they can’t grow a pair and pick a side, these mamby pambies grew from 2.4 percent to 4.0 percent of the U.S. population since 2007.
  • “Nothing in Particular”: 15.8% of the U.S. population. Daniel Tosh sums up the Nothing in Particulars nicely: “You ever hear someone say, ‘I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual’? I’m like, ‘I’m not honest, but you’re interesting.’” If you claim to be nothing in particular, that’s exactly what you should expect to get for Christmas. This group grew from 12.1 percent in 2007 to 15.8 percent in 2014. 
But while about 23 percent of the general U.S. population is unaffiliated, a whopping 35 percent of millennials are unaffiliated. That means one in three millennials is going to hell because they don’t have the blood of Jesus to wash away the horrible comments they left on YouTube.
 
And if God’s having a hard time recruiting millennials, what chance does your firm have? 
 
But I’m interested in what the accounting industry believes about God. Despite my diligent research (approximately three Google searches), I couldn’t find any data on the religious landscape of the accounting profession. I did, however, find out that you can get a Masters in Islamic Finance, and I discovered a firm called Christian CPA. Jesus hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes; the accountants at Christian CPA will make sure that you don’t have to interact with at least one of those groups. 
 
If any profession should have an opinion about God’s existence, it should be accounting. We test existence assertions all the time. And God’s existence assertion is problematic because God doesn’t allow humans or accountants to see him or touch him. If a client claimed the existence of an asset, but then refused to show us the asset, we’d be required to disclaim an opinion due to a client-imposed scope limitation. 
 
I don’t do PCAOB audits. What happens to your public-company client if you and every other CPA disclaims an opinion? I assume your client’s stock gets pulled from the exchanges, and no banks lend to them. There would be no confidence in the truthfulness of their reporting.
 
Can CPAs have any confidence in the existence of God? (Of course some do, I live in Utah for God’s sake.) But how do CPAs who believe in God support his existence assertion? You’d need to have reasonable, appropriate and persuasive evidence that He exists (AU 326.13), and the evidence you collect must be sufficient to persuade others to reach the same conclusion (AU 230.08).
 
Or maybe most CPAs do believe in God because of the convention of conservatism. Pascal’s Wager shows that belief in God is the most conservative position. It says that if Christianity is true, Christians go to heaven, and atheists go to hell. But if atheism is true, both will simply cease to exist. So the best thing that can happen to the atheist (ceasing to exist) is the worst thing that can happen to the Christian. Hence, the conservative position to best manage your afterlife-risk is to be a Christian.
 
But the convention of conservatism has to do with how we value assets and liabilities and how we recognize gains and losses. It doesn’t bind CPAs to avoid all risk. If you want to be religiously unaffiliated and covet you neighbor’s donkey and make graven images and take the Lord’s name in vain — even though God might exist and might light you on fire forever for it — no one’s going to revoke your license.
 
I’d love to know if you think accountants are more inclined or less inclined to believe in God, and why. Spread the Word.

 

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