Using an international dataset of about 35 000 subjects, this paper provides an empirical example of high-stakes incentives in relation to religious practice. First, we show that incentives (based on absolute belief) play a salient role in religious performance. Second, we find that when both positive (heaven) and negative (hell) incentives are available the former are more effective than the latter. Specifically, it is shown that beliefs in heaven are much more relevant than beliefs in hell when estimating the production of religious commodities (church-attendance and praying equations). Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.