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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject: Is religion good or bad for society? Reply with quote

In the past two days I've been passed two pieces which in many ways conflict with each other. I'm curious as to everyone’s thoughts on the matter.
Is religion good or bad for society?
Forget the authors, and look just at the content.


Study: Religion Is Good for Kids
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

By Melinda Wenner

Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children, according to a new study that is the first to look at the effects of religion on young child development.

The conflict that arises when parents regularly argue over their faith at home, however, has the opposite effect.

John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers.

The researchers compared these scores to how frequently the children’s parents said they attended worship services, talked about religion with their child and argued abut religion in the home.

The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services — especially when both parents did so frequently — and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.

But when parents argued frequently about religion, the children were more likely to have problems. “Religion can hurt if faith is a source of conflict or tension in the family,” Bartkowski noted.

Why so good?

Bartkowski thinks religion can be good for kids for three reasons. First, religious networks provide social support to parents, he said, and this can improve their parenting skills. Children who are brought into such networks and hear parental messages reinforced by other adults may also “take more to heart the messages that they get in the home,” he said.

Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family, Bartkowski told LiveScience. These “could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response,” he said.

Finally, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.

University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, who was not involved in the study, agrees. At least for the most religious parents, “getting their kids into heaven is more important than getting their kids into Harvard,” Wilcox said.

But as for why religious organizations might provide more of a boost to family life than secular organizations designed to do the same thing, that’s still somewhat of a mystery, said Annette Mahoney, a psychologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, also not involved in the research. Mahoney wondered: “Is there anything about religion and spirituality that sets it apart?”

Unanswered questions

Bartkowski points out that one limitation of his study, to be published in the journal Social Science Research, is that it did not compare how denominations differed with regards to their effects on kids.

“We really don’t know if conservative Protestant kids are behaving better than Catholic kids or behaving better than mainline Protestant kids or Jewish kids,” he said.

It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, he said. In other words, instead of religion having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation.

“There are certain expectations about children’s behavior within a religious context, particularly within religious worship services,” he said. These expectations might frustrate parents, he said, and make congregational worship “a less viable option if they feel their kids are really poorly behaved.”

Copyright © 2007 Imaginova Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

19 March 2007

Religion and Good Behaviour

By Gwynne Dyer

They published an opinion poll in Britain recently in which 82
percent of the people polled said that they thought religion does more harm
than good. My first reaction, I must admit, was to think: That's what they
would say, isn't it? It's not just that suicide bombers give religion a bad
name. In "post-Christian Britain," only 33 percent of the population
identify themselves as "a religious person," and if you stripped out recent
immigrants -- Polish Catholics, West Indian Protestants, Pakistani Muslims,
Indian Hindus -- then the number would be even lower.

So that's what the British would say, isn't it? In the United
States, where over 85 percent of people describe themselves as religious
believers, the answer would surely be very different, as it would be in
Iran or Mexico. But then I remembered an article that was published a
couple of years ago in the Journal of Religion and Society entitled (sorry
about this) "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health
with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A
First Look," in which Gregory Paul set out to test the assertion that
religion makes people behave better.

If that is true, then the United States should be heaven on earth,
whereas Britain would be overrun with crime, sexual misbehaviour and the
like. Paul examined the data from eighteen developed countries, and found
just the opposite: "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a
creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult
mortality, (venereal disease), teen pregnancy, and abortion," while "none
of the strongly secularised, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high
levels of measurable dysfunction."

How interesting. Now, to be fair, only one of the eighteen
countries examined (Japan) was not Christian or "post-Christian," so maybe
this just shows that high levels of Christian belief correlate with a
variety of social ills. There's really no way of testing that anyway,
since apart from the countries of East Asia there really are no
non-Christian countries where the level of religious belief has yet fallen
below sixty or seventy percent.

There's not even any way of knowing if other religions will
eventually experience the same decline in belief as the people who believed
in them get richer, more urban and better educated. Even in what used to be
Christendom, the United States didn't follow that path, after all. But the
question is not whether religion will continue to flourish. It is whether
that makes people behave better, and the data say no.

Even within the United States, Paul reported, "the strongly
theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest" have "markedly worse homicide,
mortality, sexually transmitted disease, youth pregnancy, marital and
related problems than the North-East, where societal conditions,
secularisation and acceptance of evolution approach European norms." As
the most religious country of the eighteen surveyed, the United States also
comes in with the highest rates for teenage pregnancy and for gonorrhea and
syphilis . (A sidelight: boys who participate in sexual abstinence
programmes are more likely to get their partners pregnant, presumably
because they are in denial about what they are doing.)

What are we to make of this? I never thought that religion really
made people behave any better, but apart from the occasional pogrom or
religious war it hadn't occurred to me that it would actually make them
behave worse. But there may be a clue in the fact that the more religious a
country is, the smaller the resources that it puts into social spending,
perhaps on the assumption that God will provide.

There is a very strong linkage between how secular a country is and
how much it spends on social welfare and income redistribution. There is
an equally strong correlation between high levels of social spending and a
good score in Paul's survey -- which makes sense, because all the ills he
was measuring, from homicide to high infant mortality to teen pregnancy,
are far more likely to affect the poor than the rich.

It's not that religious people choose to do bad things more often
-- indeed, they are probably more likely to get involved in charitable
activities. Maybe it's just that when they talk about transforming people's
lives, they don't think in terms of big state-run systems -- and if you
don't, lots of people fall through the cracks. Whereas the Godless, all
alone under the empty sky, decide that they must band together and help one
another through large amounts of social spending, because Nobody else is
going to do it for them.

Or maybe there is some other reason entirely, but the numbers don't
lie: the more religious a country is, the worse people behave in their
private lives. Thank God they didn't do a survey on the correlation
between strong religious belief and war.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think they are conflicting. It just shows that the vast majority of people are usually wrong on any particular subject, but we already knew that.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course religion is bad for society...to quote Dennis Miller "more people have died in [Jesus'] name then in any others...even Hitler!...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Religion, like virtually anything else can be good or bad.

Liberalism, can be bad for society, but has its merrits(by a traditional sense, many of us are liberals).

Conservatism, same..

Religion is comparable to guns; it's not the existence of them that causes problems, its lunatics using them that do..

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for that Miller quote, he is an ass and both he and Cerl are wrong. The West was built on Judeo-Christian values. Is religion good or bad for society? Look around you. If you can't accept it, you are just being ignorant.

After Malaria (about half of all deaths, all of history), the death toll for communism is definitely second. The killing fields, North Korea, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, that is several hundred million already, just in the last 100 years. All officially atheists, by the way.

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Human civilization exists because of religion. Look at Mesopotamia and the development of writing and inequality (not to mention the later civilizations of China and those in the America's). Without various religions who knows where our society would be, religion was needed at one time to bring people togeather.
If religion helps people to act better because they think there is someone checking in ont hem or an afterlife good. If it is too strict people will rebel. It can also cause a lot of hate between different groups.
As to if it is good or bad I would say that it is good and bad, religion is grey rather than black and white.

Figuring out the death toll of something in human history is pretty much impossible....
1) poor records kept before the modern era in many cases
2) the human population was dramatically lower before the modern era, the black death killed a large number of Europeans in its time, since it was a greater % than some other mass deaths do we rank it that way or are numbers the only thing that matter?

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Europe was at its best when it was a Christian continent. More people died under Jesus name is simply not true. For one, the crusades were not as much as our god is better than your god as it was about Muslim armies advancing up north, and the European nations decided to stop them from advancing. Communism and Socialism have killed well into the hundreds of millions, and that is just the 20th century alone between Stalin’s 20 million plus he killed, and Mao’s communist regime and those are atheistic societies.

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So much of what people think is about religion is really about politics. These people wrap themselves in the flag of religion but really it is about power in a lot of cases.
Besides all this talk about communism and socialism is off the topic, we are not debating if these are better or worse than religion......
Thats like someone saying the simpsons are funny.
If you say "family guy is funnier" well that has nothing to do with the arguement.
Stalin and Mao had their cults of themselves, they were almost at demigod levels.
I also find it intresting how in the USSR the communist party copied so much of what the Czars had been doing.

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a stupid thread, the answer is way to obvious, it depends on society itself, not the religion.
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cerl7011 wrote:
Of course religion is bad for society...to quote Dennis Miller "more people have died in [Jesus'] name then in any others...even Hitler!...


Why does that make it bad? People also die for their family. Does that make families bad for society?

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must say this...

the argument that religion is the be all and end all is as ridiculous as the suggestion that it is the worst aspect of humankind...

balance is of utmost importance. any less is ridiculous.

religion can be wonderful; but "secularism"(what our government is essentially based on) can also be wonderful.

Forget about religion for a moment, it's as irrelevant as the sexual organs you possess or the colour of your skin...

let's fight radicalism in all its form... cherry picking foes and friends isn't helping anyone.

Erl - as a friend and as a person who was once in your position, I would suggest that you re-consider your position on this topic... think about the good that religion provides. contrast that with the bad, and I suspect you will find yourself somewhere in the middle.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Regarding Religion. Reply with quote

:arrow: Depends upon the religion. Christianity is a good one, at least it's concepts and ideas are.!!! Checkout and listen to this informative, smart and highly interesting Christian Website- lutheranhour.org

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. Just reading through this again..I seemed a touch angry, non? :oops:

Religion is not good for all of society. It is simply good for those who choose to accept it. If one believes in God and is part of an organized religion, then its morals and values SHOULD do them some good.

Religious morals and vaules should not be forced upon society as some people think. It will not do any good for society as a whole. Whenever something is forced on people who don't want it, they tend to force it away.

If religion helps you lead a good life, great. It doesn't for me, so I find other morals to live by. Sure, they may be the same as religious ones at times, but you can't change religious morals, you can change self imposed ones. If that makes any sence... :P


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My ex-wife was from a strict conservative Christian home. She lived in bondage to rules that her mother(the pastors wife) set up for her. I spent 5 hours one time with her searching for a skirt that was 1 inch below the knee instead of 1 inch above.

I come upon the scene and didn't meet with approval cause I was the cool guy with the nice car. Her parents tried to indoctrinate me and so I asked a lot of questions.

They said you can't drink. I asked where in the Bible does it say that? It doesn't of course. I argued many of their rules out of existence. By the time I was done with them they were drinking, going to movies etc...

Religion is mostly bondage to man made rules. If you can find the freedom in Religion then you have it made.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrsocko wrote:
Religion is mostly bondage to man made rules. If you can find the freedom in Religion then you have it made.

Amen and pass the ammunition! Jesus' biggest detractors were the Pharisees and Sadusees, two of the strictest religious Jewish sects to ever exist. Jesus constantly knocked them off their high horse because they were spotless outside, but filthy inside. Religion is a firm foundation for any family to stand on.
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