Religion is bad for society (so say the experts)

Making the rounds this evening, a study published in the Journal of Religion and Society claiming that religious beliefs within a society encourage – and do not discourage – violent behavior such as STD infections, rapes, murders, and so forth.

Let’s take a quick look at the abbreviated version:

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.

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Time out. Abortion rates? You mean to explain to me that a religous society that preaches against abortion has higher rates of abortion? Teenage pregnancy?

Is something not passing the common sense test here?

Let’s look a bit deeper. First off, we can detect a few themes: (1) a focus on the United States, (2) a focus on its society, (3) an absence of discussion concerning contraception when talking about abortion and teenage pregnancy rates, and (4) the inclusion of murder/suicide rates while neglecting other social indicators as contributions to charities.

I’ll withhold further judgement until I have the time to read the paper, but there’s all sorts of potholes at first glance.

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