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November 21, 2008


Ruth Gledhill, Times, UK - Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research. According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society. It compares the social performance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality. . .

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: "Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly skeptical world.

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

"The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so."

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world's only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from " uniquely high" adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: "The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America."

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. "I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states," he added.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically amusing to realise that religious belief may very well contribute towards creating the very moral and social delinquencies that it seeks to punish with such severity.

Amusing, but I'd have to say not really at all surprising.

November 22, 2008 8:37 AM  
Blogger Gimmer said...

I must protest! I am a moderate Christian, a Presbyterian who supports Gay and civil rights and helping the poor. I do not think nationalism has any place in the Church. I disagree very much with the idea religion harms society. Religious extremism certainly does as does any extremism. Even capitalism is bad for a society when taken to the extreme. Bundled with nationalism, religion becomes a beast. I say take the model of the Quakers my dear friends. They are just as compassionate. This piece is way too general. Even the isolated tribes of New Guinea have religion and it helps them cope and gives meaning to their lives.

November 22, 2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget it. Christianity and religion in general are for the retarded. Like you.

November 23, 2008 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree that Gimmer's comments are retarded, but I thinK he (or she) misses the broader point. For specific individuals, yes, religious experience can be enlightening and ennobling. But for the mass (the 'way too general' than Gimmer refers to), it is anything but. And unfortunately it is the bad effects of the generality of the response to religious belief that we, and the rest of the world, have to deal with.

November 25, 2008 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Gordon said...

Few days ago I watched the documentary "Jesus Camp" and that really got into my mind that we need to wake up and say: "Enough is enough!" That documentary can be put down to one word: "Brainwashing"!

May 29, 2009 5:17 AM  

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