Is Believing in God Bad for America?

Societies that have a strong belief in God are more murderous and have higher rates of suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and abortion. That’s the finding of this study in the Journal of Religion & Society.

From Benjamin Franklin to Feodor Dostoyevsky to nearly every politician in America today, it has become accepted in our culture that religious belief is good for a society. It was Dostoyevsky who said, “If God does not exist, everything is permissible.”

But does it really work this way? For his article, researcher Gregory S. Paul of Baltimore compared widely available data on several indicators of social health across many nations and compared the results with the percentage of people in each nation who believe in and worship God. His analysis, he says, indicates that the most secular societies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been the most successful in creating practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex ralated dysfunction, and even abortion. Says Paul, “the non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

Paul says the U.S. combines exceptionally high per capita wealth with exceptionally high rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion. “The U.S. is therefore the least efficient western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and religiosity versus secularism.”

As a Christian, I find Paul’s findings deeply disturbing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they formed the basis for a fundamental review among Christians, Muslims, and Jews of who God calls us to be and what God calls us to do? Who’s ready to get us started?

If you are, I strongly suggest that you begin by reading Paul’s analysis. Then pray. Then post.