A study by Gregory S. Paul, published in the Journal of Religion and Society
, maintains that there is a definite correlation between religion and morality; but the correlation is the opposite of what we might suppose. Ranking 18 prosperous democracies according to their religious fervency, he then correlated religious observance with various indicators of social health, such as homicide rate, teen pregnacny, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. The U. S., which was identified as by far the most "religiously fervent", also ranked number one in most social problems, with the numbers for other nations falling into line. Interestingly, the numbers for social ills in the "red" states, which are also statistically the more religiously fervent states, were also worse than the blue, supposedly less moral, states.
The author cautions that correlation is not causation, and that perhaps high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiousity, rather than the other way around. He also stressed that this study is the first of its kind.
Summary adapted from The Week
Magazine, which was based on an article by Rosa Brooks in the LA Times
. The original article can be found at: