Thursday, November 05, 2015

Study: Children Raised in Religious Homes Meaner and Less Generous

We constantly hear propaganda - which is all too easily lapped up without question by the media - that religion belief is a positive good and that religion enhances charity and decent treatment of others.  Personally, I do not buy it.  Now, a new study of children raised in religious homes and those raised in secular or atheist homes seemingly backs up my view.  The study found that those raised in religious homes were less generous and harsher and meaner to others than their counterparts in secular homes.  If such is in fact the case, why on earth are churches being give tax-exempt status when they are in fact engendering undesirable conduct?  An article in the Oregonian looks at the study and its findings.  Here are excerpts:
When it comes to teaching kids the Golden Rule, Sunday school might not be the best bet.

A new study in the journal Current Biology found children in religious households are significantly less generous than their non-religious peers.

At the same time, religious parents were more likely than non-religious ones to consider their children empathetic and sensitive to the plight of others.

It's a common assumption in the United States that faith goes hand-in-hand with goodness. The Pew Research Center reported last year that 53 percent of Americans think it's necessary to believe in God to be moral. 

This study challenges those attitudes. It was the children in non-religious homes most likely to be generous toward a stranger. The longer a child had lived in a religious home, the stingier he was compared to his secular peers.

Researchers also measured how children perceived interpersonal harm and what degree of punishment they thought was appropriate. Religious children judged others' actions as meaner and more deserving of punishment than kids in secular homes.

The study concluded that in this way religious children tend to come across as more judgmental, while also being less altruistic.

Nearly 1,200 children from the U.S., Canada, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa and China participated. Most of the kids came from Christian, Muslim or non-religious households, with a small number from Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and agnostic homes. Their ages ranged from 5 to 12.
The last paragraph of the study findings was especially telling:
[O]ur findings . . . . contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others. More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that the secularization of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness—in fact, it will do just the opposite.
 When one looks at the "conservative Christians" who make up much of the Republican Party base, they confirm the study findings as well: they back the dismantling of social programs for the poor and unfortunate, condemn all not just like themselves, and seek to make was on those of other religious faiths.  Religion destroys morality rather than enhances it.

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