Is the research legitimate? I don't know. I don't know if religion per se contributes to societal ills--poverty, suicide, STDs, violence, murder, etc. But, I do know that fundamentalist religion--closed-minded, ignorant, intolerant, devoid of respect for facts and reality--is extremely dangerous for plurastic democracies. Frankly, I believe that intolerant fundamentalist religion is danger for religion in general!

Nevertheless, an interesting study was summarized today in this article in The Times of London. Here are a few paragraphs:

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.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

I personally suspect that they key here is fundamentalist relgion--not religion itself. Speaking of fundamentalist wing-nuts, this is sure to make them crazy. Furthermore, look what fundamentalist religion has done to Dubya--took a fun-loving, basically harmless partyboy who lived off his family's fame and made him into a dangerous, idiotic, ideologue of a president. Read entire article

P.S. - Check out The Anti-Pat Robertson/Christian Coalition Site.


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