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<nettime> Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' (fwd)
Alan Sondheim on Sat, 1 Oct 2005 12:04:11 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' (fwd)

Another article that needs further attention; the usual line is that religion
provides a calming effect...

- Alan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2005 14:01:26 +0200
From: Maurizio Mariotti <mariotti {AT} VENTURENET.CO.ZA>
Reply-To: Philosophy and Psychology of Cyberspace <CYBERMIND {AT} LISTSERV.AOL.COM>
Subject: Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'


Needless to say, what follows is the opinion of Ms. Gledhill based on a research,
but I thought it offered some interesting views. Incidentally, God was not
available for comment, but Jesus wept a lot.



The Times (UK)

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder
rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published

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 peformance 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.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief
is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime,
murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief
to a society have been described as its "spiritual capital". But the study claims
that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

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 sceptical 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

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 gonorrhoea 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.

Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. 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.

He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory
of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven.
Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US
unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.

"The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society
cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral

"The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster
is therefore refuted."


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