Child Rearing Without Religion Better Option

Child IndoctrinationI think this is something we’ve all suspected for a long time, but now there is research to back it up.  Like most children of my generation, I was raised religious, I was sent to Sunday School, I was religiously indoctrinated in my home, by parents who thought it was the best option, and in fact I went to all religious private schools which further pushed an unending stream of religion on me.  I was lucky to escape but I’m sure a lot of people I knew in my youth probably never did.

Now, however, there are multiple studies that show that kids raised non-religious are simply better.  According to a Duke University study in 2010, non-religious children are “less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian, and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.”

According to Phil Zuckerman, “Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology.”  Bengston is in charge of the Longitudinal Study of Generations, the largest ongoing examination of American families and religion.  Bengston says that “many non-religious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study. The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

We’ve long-since known that atheists are vastly underrepresented in prison populations, they simply do not appear to commit crimes at the same rate as most religious people do.  There are only a very few religious groups that have a lower percentage in prison than in their normal demographics.  I also talked on the podcast a while back about a study that showed that non-religious children were more likely to differentiate between fantasy and reality than religious children.

We also know that there is a strong inverse correlation between religiosity and intelligence/education.  The smarter someone is, the more educated they are, the less likely they are to be religious.  This has been confirmed in dozens of studies performed over the past century.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you want your kids to be smart, well-adjusted and decent human beings, for goodness sake, keep them away from religion.  And for those who do not want those things for their children, you assholes have no business being parents.

3 thoughts on “Child Rearing Without Religion Better Option

  1. I share your view that raising children without religion is the better option. It is encouraging that the research appears to give good reason to hold this view.

    I am equally encouraged by the finding that raising children without religion tends to produce adults who are less authoritarian, less nationalistic, less militaristic and more tolerant because such individuals are also more likely to adopt a liberal political view. There certainly is a strong correlation between atheism and liberalism. Of course correlation does not automatically mean causation. But given the strength of this correlation, it seems to me that rising atheism will most likely lead to a greater rise in liberalism than conservatism.

    From a PEW Foundation Report:

    “The partisan and ideological leanings of the unaffiliated follow the same pattern. Compared with the general public, the religiously unaffiliated are more Democratic in their partisanship and more liberal in their political ideology. And, given their growing share among U.S. adults, the unaffiliated constitute a larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters in 2012 than they did five years ago….The Democratic presidential candidate has captured the lion’s share of the religiously unaffiliated vote in the past three election cycles.” –

    You quote Phil Zuckerman who refers to the work of Vern Bengston that shows that “secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children…” The same article in which this quote is drawn from also has several other comments by Zuckerman that I would think would give you cause to not be so supportive of the secularization of America.

    Zuckerman says, “For secular people, morality is predicated on one simple principle: empathetic reciprocity, widely known as the Golden Rule.”

    You have made it clear in previous posts that you are not a fan of empathy, that it is not a value in the conservative's pantheon of values. I recall you saying something to the effect that it is a trait associated with those liberals whom you seem to loath so much. I agree that empathy is more prevalent among liberals than conservatives. I think it is true that children raised to value and employ empathy are much more likely to adopt a liberal political point of view. So secularism may get you one of your apparent goals: less religious belief. But at the same time it will likely fill your world with more liberals. Personally, I think this would be a good thing.

    Yet another quote from the Zuckerman article that you seem not to have given much consideration to that does not bode well for conservatism.

    “Another meaningful related fact: Democratic countries with the lowest levels of religious faith and participation today — such as Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Belgium and New Zealand — have among the lowest violent crime rates in the world and enjoy remarkably high levels of societal well-being.”

    What else do these secularized countries have in common in addition to lower violent crime rates? They also tend to be politically liberal. A large part of the reason they experience “high levels of societal well-being” is because they are democracies that have instituted a deep and broad social safety net, something the United States, with its idol worship of free markets, has chosen not to pursue. I suspect, however, this will change in the future. If the United States does gradually become more secularized and more atheistic, there is a very good chance it will lean more liberal politically.

  2. You correctly point out that there is a “strong inverse relationship between religiosity and intelligence/education.” I can't tell from what you wrote if you are also attempting to imply that there is a causal relationship between these. I hope you are not because you would then be falling victim to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. That higher intelligence and/or education is correlated with lower religiosity does not mean that there is a causal connection between the two. Fact is, it is not yet known whether a causal relationship exists between these two. It may well be that lower religiosity among those with higher IQ's and/or greater education may have little or nothing to do with their IQ's and/or level of education and that the causal relationship involves some other as-of-yet unidentified factor.

    Excerpt from one of your links:

    “Dr David Hardman of London Metropolitan University says: "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief." He adds that other studies do nevertheless correlate IQ with being willing or able to question beliefs.” From the article at Wikipedia to which you linked.

  3. “So I guess what I’m saying is that if you want your kids to be smart, well-adjusted and decent human beings, for goodness sake, keep them away from religion.”

    This is an erroneous, or, at the very least, a very unjustified conclusion to draw from the research you cite in this post. Yes, there are correlations. But it is not established that these correlations represent a causal relationship. The studies you cited certainly do not make such a claim. There are in fact many, many, many children who are raised in religious homes who turn out to be well-adjusted, smart, and decent human beings.

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