We’re always hearing about how loving this religion or that religion is, especially when it comes to Christianity in America. Jesus loves you. Love thy neighbor. On and on. Of course, we rarely see evidence of these sentiments.
Quite the opposite in fact. Religion is used to justify all manner of hate a bigotry against all who do not fall in line with the beliefs of any given religious sect, as well as wars and other types of violence — all because their God said so, and what he says goes, no matter how insane the notion.
Well, what most atheists, agnostics, and other secularists have known for a long time has now been proven in a scientific study: Religious people — specifically, religious children — tend to be harsher, less generous people than their secular counterparts. Current Biology, a scientific journal, recently published the study, based upon research done by analyzing the social behaviors of children asked to play a game. The game required the children to share stickers. In order to prevent bias based on race, gender, and other factors, the children were all similar to one another in those regards. The only deciding factor was religion.
There were 1,200 children selected from the study, with most being raised in Christian, Muslim, or secular traditions. They also varied in nationality, coming from the U.S., Canada, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and China. In addition to the aforementioned home religious traditions, a few of the children were also being raised Jewish, Buddhist, agnostic, and Hindu. All children in the study were between the ages of 5 and 12.
Overwhelmingly, non-religious children were more likely to be generous to strangers, and they were more lenient with regards to things like punishment for bad behavior. Religious children were, on the other hand, more likely to want to deliver harsh punishments for mistakes. Also, religious children were less generous with money and other resources.
In other words, the more religious the kids were, the meaner, more judgemental, and stingier they were. Sound familiar? I’ve always said that you don’t need religion to be a good person. This study pretty much proves not only that, but that you might actually wind up being a worse person for it.
Featured image via Flickr