Links and Comments: Zuckerman on religion and violence; Islamic intolerance

From today’s Los Angeles Times, an op-ed by Phil Zuckerman, Think religion makes society less violent? Think again.

This echoes his book of last year, Living the Secular Life, which I blogged about here. The point in this essay is relevant to current politics — again, how the right wing, especially the religious zealots like Huckabee and Fox host Bill O’Reilly, imply that mass shootings in America are the result of increasing secularism. The evidence is otherwise — but again, as discussed in my previous post, the right-wing adheres to ideology and actively ignores and resists evidence. Zuckerman:

If it were true that when belief in God weakens, societal well-being diminishes, then we should see abundant evidence for this. But we don’t. In fact, we find just the opposite: Those societies today that are the most religious — where faith in God is strong and religious participation is high — tend to have the highest violent crime rates, while those societies in which faith and church attendance are the weakest — the most secular societies — tend to have the lowest.

With examples about countries around the world, and states within the US, that show increased religiosity aligns with increased crime-rates and matters like child-abuse, and vice versa.

What about within the United States? According to the latest study from the Pew Research Center, the 10 states that report the highest levels of belief in God are Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma (tied with Utah). The 10 states with the lowest levels of belief in God are Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, Oregon and California. And as is the case in the rest of the world, when it comes to nearly all standard measures of societal health, including homicide rates, the least theistic states generally fare much better than the most theistic. Consider child-abuse fatality rates: Highly religious Mississippi’s is twice that of highly secular New Hampshire’s, and highly religious Kentucky’s is four times higher than highly secular Oregon’s.

Of course, you can debate correlation vs. causation. But which ever way it works, how can you conclude anything positive about religious belief..? Whether effect or cause, it’s a bad sign, one humanity will, hopefully, outgrow.


And in other news: New York Times: 2 Men Who Published Writings Critical of Extremism Are Stabbed in Bangladesh.

Religious (Islamic) extremists murdered two publishers for publishing work by a writer earlier murdered, all for accusing religious extremists of being intolerant religious extremists.

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