Thursday, July 04, 2013

The growth of the non-religious is seen as a negative by most Americans

by Salman Hameed

Religion (or non-religion) is a matter of personal belief. But there is a common misconception that morals are tied only to religious beliefs [In case, you are interested, here is an excellent piece by Frans de Waal in the NYT that debunks this particular notion: Morals without God?. On the level of societies you can check out Societies without God: What the least religious nations can tell us about contentment, and for possible causal connections on religiosity, you can check our friend Tom Rees' paper Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief?]. One only has to look around to see that humans are quite capable of doing bad with or without religion. Though to be fair, the same goes for the good as well. Nevertheless, the Pew Forum has a new poll out that shows that most Americans think that the growth of nonreligious is a bad thing for the society as a whole, and these views may be shaped by the confusion about the connection between morality and religion:

And, of course, this view is dependent on one's own religious affiliation (or non-affliliation):

Actually it is interesting that almost half of all Hispanic Catholics - the largest amongst the religious denominations identified - think that the growth of nonreligious does not make any difference. I think, at the very least, it should not matter, In fact, a greater diversity of beliefs (including non-belief) would possibly be a good for the society as more people will come in contact with a whole array of views that they do not share. In case you were wondering, the Pew poll was in response to the rising number of Americans who do not identify themselves with any religion (see my earlier posts here and here):

You can read Pew report on the rising number of religiously unaffiliated here and the latest report on the reaction of Americans here.

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