Religion May Be Hurting America

September 28, 2005

Gregory Paul, a researcher and statistician has used data gathered from International surveys, Gallop polls and National research bodies to come to a startling conclusion: Non-religious countries do a better job at curbing murder, suicide, teen pregnancies and abortion. This seems counter-intuitive and Mr. Paul doesn’t try to explain his results.

You can view a longer critique of this study at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,171-1798944,00.html

Assuming his conclusions are true, what are we to make of these findings? They certainly don’t seem to make sense, especially if you compare the results of the Communist Experiments of the 20th Century. By removing God from their societies, Communist Russia and other Soviet bloc nations saw a rise in all of these indicators as well as drug and alcohol abuse, rape, theft and government graft.

The countries that Paul compares are primarily Western European nations with the United States. How is it that they have less religious focus but lower rates of societal ills? I have several ideas of how this is possible:

  1. Each of these Western European nations was built upon the Christian ethic which comes from the Bible. Whether they attend church at all, this ethical base is at the core of what they believe to be right and wrong, even if the details are dissimilar to American viewpoints.
  2. American Christianity has not maintained a strong ethical base in recent years, falling instead into sensationalistic church services and politicizing of Christianity. This has caused people to have less sense of what is right and wrong and more of a sense of “we are winning…or losing”.
  3. An overemphasis on the evils of sex has made sex more appealing to children and teens. The Christian approach is abstinence, which though correct deemphasizes responsible sexual behavior (such as birth control).
  4. America is a much younger population on the whole than Western Europe and therefore you expect to see more societal problems.
  5. Perhaps Western Europe is more religious than we give them credit for. Many Europeans prefer home cell group ministries than Sunday celebration services. I believe this gives much more distinct delivery of accountability and ethical mores than attendance on Sunday ever could. This means that America needs to consider that our overemphasis on Sunday church may be hurting society instead of helping it.

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