Gregory S. Paul has recently published a study that strongly suggest that a society's belief in God correlates with social ills found within that society.
And not in a good way.
We've heard this kind of thing before concerning the territories within the United States. The "religious states" tend to fair worse in all things good. And I should know, I live in one of them.
OK, maybe that last statement wasn't fair. But it was fun to say!
Well, this study shows a little more ambition and takes a cold, hard look at several other rich, Westernized democracies across the globe.
The findings suggest that religious societies exhibit higher pathological and dysfunctional markers. Examples of these markers include a higher incidence of rape, murder, STDs, teen pregnancies and abortions. All of these activities raise significantly higher-- not only within the United States, but also in other religious societies where belief in God is more prevalent.
If this is true, then why does religion make people become bad?
I can only speculate-- but perhaps religion causes people to practice their pathologies in their closets. The pressure from within a religious society may cause people to pretend to be pious. But around the bend and behind the barn, they're being religiously bad.
That possibility may account for the flurry of Republican congressmen who have gotten tied up into sexual scandals in recent months. To date, polls indicate that the best predictor of religious affiliation is political affiliation. So, I'm not simply picking on the Republican party.
And as a side note, I'm not saying Democrats do not get into sexual scandal (er, Bill Clinton, Jessie Jackson, John Edwards all come to mind). But somehow it doesn't seem so bad when Democrats do it. Oh, it is just as bad and damaging to the loved ones involved. But typically (not always I suppose), Democrats haven't prefaced their scandal with hypocritical religious piety. So, this tendency makes it easier for them to recover after getting caught up in a few social "nasties".
Now strictly speaking, perhaps belief in God isn't so much the problem. Perhaps religion in and of itself isn't really what's wrong.
Perhaps the real issue is fear to fully express oneself because of religious rules. Perhaps such fear prevents people from coming out and being open about who they are and what they truly love. What happens when you become too afraid to explore life and truly find yourself? Something pathological seems to breed when people are afraid to participate in harmless social taboos. Such suppression seems to push people across the line that lies between social taboos and maladaptive behaviors.
And most interestingly, the United States rates the worst in negative social markers when compared to other democracies. And the United States has the strongest overall religious overtones of all the other democracies according to Gregory Paul's publication.
Oh great. I live in the worst state within the worst democracy.
Well . . . when I compare my situation to something like living in a tiny village where people still perform witch hunts . . . I'm happy with living right here in the good ol' U.S. of A!
The United States is a wonderful place to live, in spite of these findings. But, our nation could be better. We could really grow into the nation that our Constitution originally tried to form. Perhaps we can forge an even better nation than what was ever intended by the Founding Fathers. We should never think that we have completely formed that more perfect union.
And from the appearance of things, we probably don't need God to accomplish that either.
My thanks to the Universal Heretic for inspiring this post. I was struggling to find something to write about. Not any more! Thanks!