Sunday, August 26, 2007

Christianity and the Murder Rate..

Strange thing about the relationship between religion (specifically Christianity) and murder...

...for the most part the relationship runs in reverse of what you might think... least if you use church attendance as your measure of "religious."

Consider these facts:

Church Attendance Rank

Murder Rate

#1 Louisiana

twice the U.S. average

#2 U.S. Bible Belt

Significantly higher than U.S. average

#3 United States

base line for comparison

#4 Britain

1/6 that of the United States

#5 France

1/7 that of the United States

#6 Australia

1/5 that of the United States

#7 Sweden

1/5 that of the United States

#8 Japan

1/5 that of the United States

With the exception of possibly Italy, Belgium, and Ireland, there are few advanced nations that have high rates of church attendance and low rates of murder. (In the latter case, of course, you have to discount decades of war between Protestants and Catholics.)

Does all this mean that religion — primarily Christianity — causes violence?

No, as Steve Chapman so clearly points out in his recent Slate article (where I stole most of the above data), relationships don't necessary mean causal relationships.

So what does this mean?

First, I have no doubt that Christianity has done tremendous good...

...kept families together

...provided strength and consolation for many people during difficult times

...inspired charitable organizations and causes

...pacified anger and in the process kept quite a few people alive

At the same time we are also faced with the clear reverse relationship between church attendance in most countries and murder — especially in the United States.

Since Christianity espouses peace, forgiveness, and turning the other cheek...

...and assuming that church attendance doesn't somehow work against these central Christian concepts...

...we must look for other related (or reversely-related) factors.

Here are some factors that, statistically, tend to be reversely related to church attendance:

  • educational level
  • economic status
  • social tolerance (acceptance of people that are "different")
  • liberal viewpoints

Makes you wonder about some things, doesn't it?

PS: Since many have asked, it is this type of article that got the response from a couple of my former newspaper editors mentioned in an earlier column, "I don't care if it is true, we can't print it; our readers won't like it and we'll lose subscriptions."

EDITOR'S NOTE: After this was published by "Fog," it was pointed out by a reader that "the Bible belt" contains the highest percentage of two minority groups that are associated with higher than average crime rates.


© 2006, Frederick Horne
All Rights Reserved


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