Since a Wall Street Journal editorialist has denounced secularism as the source of all of society’s ills, it’s only fair to get another opinion. Like, say, of a social scientist who has actually done a comparative study of different nations, looking for correlations between religiosity and superior moral values or stability or whatever. Surely, faith-based societies will have some virtues, won’t they?
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.
Some of the problems that the religious most strenuously deplore are ones that are exacerbated by the beliefs they advocate.
The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.
Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”
He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.
Now to be fair, these aren’t causal relationships, and this is only a study of correlations, so religion might not be directly responsible — you aren’t likely to catch gonorrhea by going to church. But with the state of American religion, you are very likely to catch a kind of pernicious ignorance by going to church, and that disability might make it more likely that you will make bad decisions with unfortunate consequences that will add to the roster of dismaying statistics.