Britons View Atheists As More Moral Than Believers, Religion More Harmful Than Good

This post by Frank Minero originally appeared at Addicting Info.

An eye-opening survey conducted in the UK reveals a truth many in the United States will find shocking. When asked if atheists are more or less moral than religious people, our allies across the pond favor atheists.

The British feel those who identify as atheists are more likely to be good people. In fact, 12.5% of Britons believe atheists are more moral, while only 6% say atheists are less moral.

Fewer than a quarter of Britons believe religion is a force for good. On the contrary, over half believe religion does more harm than good. Even 20% of Britons who describe themselves as ‘very religious’ are on record stating religion is harmful to society.

The poll, conducted by Survation for the HuffingtonPost UK’s series Beyond Belief doesn’t address why Britons have come to this conclusion, however faith in God and religion is falling in America as well. Jerome Baggett, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California told The San Francisco Business Times why he thinks people are retreating from religion in the United States,

“Religious institutions themselves have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of many Americans due to sexual and financial scandals, or political overreaching ‘by the so-called Christian right.’”

Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, told The Huffington Post UK she found the results of the poll “striking,”

“This confirms something I’ve found in my own surveys and which leads me to conclude that religion has become a ‘toxic brand’ in the UK. What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some of that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people.”

Woodhead explains the reason Britons are distancing themselves from religion are “numerous” and include: sex scandals involving Catholic priests and rabbis, as well as Islamist terror attacks and conflict in the Middle East,

“I’d add religious leaderships’ drift away from the liberal values, equality, tolerance, diversity, [which is] embraced by many of their own followers and often championed by non-religious and atheist people more forcefully”.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association had this to say,

“This survey just confirms what we know is the common sense of people in Britain today – that whether you are religious or not has very little to do with your morality. Most people understand that morality and good personal and social values are not tied to religious belief systems, but are the result of our common heritage and experience as human beings: social animals that care for each other and are kind to others because we understand that they are human too. Not only that, people understand that religious beliefs themselves can be harmful to morality: encouraging intolerance, inflexibility and the doing of harm in the name of a greater good. We only need to look around us to perceive that fact.”

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74 COMMENTS

  1. People have blindly bought into atheist propaganda that overlooks all the good acts Christians do, focuses on moral lapses from 1000 years ago, and ignores all the evil done in the name of atheism.

    People like Philip Pullman tell kids that the atheist Soviat gulags in the Arctic circle were actually run by evil priests who acted like the ‘evil Jew’ from Nazi propaganda posters. It’s an actual cover up we have here. And it gets worse, BBC bitesize teaches this kind of propaganda as fact at GCSE level!

    Some stats: Half the schools and hospitals in Africa were built by the Catholic Church. Most of the oldest universities in Europe too. The Church has funded science since before it was ever called science, especially medicine and surgery. The Church teaches 2.6 million students every day at the cost to that church of $10 billion and a saving to the American taxpayer of $18 billion. The pupils go on on to graduate studies at the rate of 92 percent. And that’s just off the top of my head!

    Atheists have killed about 100-200 million people and tortured them for believing in God. Richard Dawkins promotes eugenics. And lets not forget that they deny it all by pretending that they are not an ideology.

    • What a load of rubbish. Most people are not concerned with christianity 1000 years ago there is more than enough evil committed by contemporary christianity without delving into it's barbaric and murderous past.

      The Soviet Union was not an atheist state it was a communist state led by Joseph Stalin whose father was a priest and who studied for many years to become a priest himself. Dictatorships of that nature are a religion in themselves with the state replacing the church and the leader replacing the deity it is the simplest way to control the masses.You need only look at the deification of dictators the world over for confirmation.

      It is interesting and noteworthy that you don't mention the Nazis but then they were of course famously christians.

      Next your ludicrous suggestion that half the schools and hospitals in Africa were built by the catholic church. You will need to supply proof of this I shan't hold my breath. What is not a matter of contention is the millions of graves in Africa filled by the catholic church from the Rwandan genocide to the aids epidemic the church is steeped in misery and death. It will of course be many years before the sex scandals come to light but along with South America, Africa is the go to destination for paedophile priests escaping prosecution.

      Let us not forget that the church heads to the third world not from a sense of altruism but because it is dying in the west in the face of access to free information via the internet and the dissemination of information concerning the many scandals the church was able to suppress in the past..

      As to your claims that most of the universities in Europe were built by the church we have to travel back to the middle ages for that to be the case and far from a philanthropic gesture it was then like now merely to control education and censor information along of course with gaining access to young minds (and too often bodies).

      The church has stifled science since before Galileo whom the church sentenced to death for suggesting the Earth revolve around the Sun and not vice versa. Even today the church attempts to subvert stem cell research.

      Next the church teaches 2.6 million children a day merely to instil their propaganda and dogma into young minds. if the church was not allowed access to children until they were 18 it would die in a generation. If you can't fill the children's mind with fear and self loathing who will fill your collection plate tomorrow.

      You calculate the saving to the US taxpayer as $18 billion well why not pay your taxes calculated at $73 billion per annum and let the government fund schools free from religious dogma.

      Atheists have killed nobody nor have they tortured anyone you may be confused with the witch hunts or inquisition which I assure you were arms of the church.

      As to your ridiculous suggestion that Richard Dawkins promotes eugenics you can of course provide evidence? Thought not just another ridiculous unfounded assertion.

      Finally atheism is not an ideology quite the reverse it is the rejection of an ideology in the face of the overwhelming lack of evidence for a god or gods.

      Your entire post was full of lies and fake assertions one might in say it's inaccuracies were of biblical proportions.

      • Excellent, well informed challenge to the previous post. I too see far more morality, kindness and humanity in atheists I know than in the Catholic church I grew up in. As for the fundamentalist Christians in the USA – their creationist beliefs, false morality and Trump loving is the most dangerous thing in “modern” America. Which seems to be heading backwards at a rate of knots.

        • I do have a very mild religious or philosophical belief. Regardless, introduction of religion into any argument just imposes a layer of murk that makes understanding more difficult. Religion in general is a force for evil.

      • Thanks for that Robert. Hadashi doesn’t realise that sensible people can see right through the lies and dogma of religion. His portrayal of it as cleaner than clean only promotes atheism.

      • Your post was a pleasure to read. I’m so tired of all these lying fake Christians who don’t know what they’re talking about.

      • Fantastic reply Robert – just one small point, I don't think Galileo was sentenced to death by the church? – from what I've read, On June 22, 1633, the Church handed down the following order: “We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo… have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world.”

        Along with the order came the following penalty: “We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms.”

        Galileo agreed not to teach the heresy anymore and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy.

        Source: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/galil

        • You are right that there was no death sentence, but Galileo was shown the instruments of torture that would be used if he failed to recant.

      • *Stands and claps*
        Eloquently and forcefully worded, Robert. It is rare that I comment on other’s posts like this, but this was a truly exemplary effort on your part, both in terms of persuasive power and in terms of clarity and content.

    • Bro, what cool-aid have you been drinking from lol! That must be some strong stuff for you to rattle off with so many blatant lies. “In the name of Atheism”. If you can even utter that sentence, you do not even know what Atheism is. This comment is a textbook example of what religion does to your brain, poisons it beyond comprehension.

    • You do realize religious teaching is propaganda by definition, right? Atheism is actually the absence of it. When the church teaches kids, since they have received huge tax breaks, it not only doesn't save the money you claim but its purpose is primarily to create new believers. To then claim that atheism has tortured and killed millions with the history of religious persecution and murder well documented?

    • When you're doing a "good act" because you want a reward (heaven) or fear God's wrath then you're not really a good person are you? Atheists do good things not because of these reasons but because they are well… Good people.

    • Supposing there was a group of people traveling about your area, led by a charismatic speaker who claims that the world is ending soon.

      He promises he alone can save you, but only if you sell your belongings, devote the rest of your life to him, and cut off family members who try to stop you.

      He also wants to change your name, advises you to leave your home/job if necessary to follow him, and says that if you don’t love him more than your own family, you’re not worthy of him. What sort of group is that?

      • Depends if you are in an occupied country or not. And what the era is.

        I wonder how many people recognise a group that you refer to?

        At the time these lyrics were written there was no internet.
        " Why'd you choose such a backward time in such a strange land?
        If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation
        Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication "

    • There is nothing good in any religion that can not be achieved without religion, and therefore, religions provide absolutely nothing to life beside demands and punishments, real or fictional, and religions also limit people's freedom to make their own choices.

      Religions are destructive to society, blocking development and progress in many ways, why religion as a concept can not be seen as an asset for either person or society, and is therefore completely meaningless.

      Consequently religion should be regarded as a burden for both the individual and society.

    • The abuse of children by priests is a 1000 year old event? Well yes, but it also continues to today. You ignored the biggest reason that the average person is losing faith in institutional religion.

    • "…focuses on moral lapses from 1000 years ago."

      I think you'll find that the child abuse committed by priests in the recent past has done a lot more to shred the reputation of the churches than the historical abuses.

    • idiot – islam killed at least 100 million and continues to repress and brutalise,rape and murder. And kills anyone who disagrees

    • Stalin…Mao…Pol Pot etc are not atheist heroes. These murdering fucks didn’t do their atrocities in the name of atheism. They did their atrocities for political & personal gain. Communist atheism is not what we atheists promote at all. You make it sound like all atheists are like Stalin. Pathetic. Atheism is the lack of belief or disbelief of any of the thousands of deities humanity has or still is worshipping. That’s it. Religious folk are almost as atheist as me. They don’t believe in any of the other thousands of deities humanity has or still is worshipping. We rational folk (atheists) just don’t believe in one more deity than you. Yours. You’re 99% atheist. Also…mixing personal & or religious beliefs with the facts of science & or evolution is what’s known as pseudo science & not taken seriously in the scientific community. Religious & nonreligious scientists have actually helped disprove or debunk numerous religious beliefs throughout the centuries. No religious belief has ever disproved any fact of science or evolution. While religious scientists works in science is taken seriously…their religious beliefs are not. Religious beliefs are not facts. That’s a fact. Creationists accept the science that fits their religious beliefs & reject the science that doesn’t. That’s pseudo science. I won’t post the atrocities of christianity throughout the centuries. You should already know them. I wasn’t fooled by any of the 4,200 or so religions that unfortunately exist nor was I fooled by any of the thousands of deities humanity has or still is worshipping. Why were you? Seriously. We all had to hear about god…jesus & satan from other humans. That’s one inescapable fact. You were just gullible & naive enough to think that it was true. Logically one would think that these so-called all powerful spiritual beings would have represented themselves to us instead of humans doing it for them. Imaginary spiritual beings are like that though. I find your post only half true. You should work on that.

    • Hadashi – To see you talk about propaganda and then see the rubbish that you believe beggars belief.

      Your little chapter is a great example of how religion can blind people to the truth.

      The Soviet Union was by no means an atheist state. The ideal of Communism did not allow for the encouragement of religion, but the fact that it was always present is proved by the fact that even now we see Russia as a Christian nation.

      Schools and Hospitals in Africa – Some are built by religious concerns such as Christian and Islamic missions. Some are built by non-religious charities. Let me tell you the main difference. . .
      Christian built schools are mostly for Christians. Muslim built schools are mostly for Muslims. However, schools built by the non religious are for EVERYONE without discrimination.

      Your last comment on Richard Dawkins is simply the final nail in the coffin of evidence that your viewpoints come from a very pro religious and biased place

    • You're forgefting something. The dark ages, the Spanish inqusition, the church helping. NAZI's escape to argentina, the deal the church made with Mussolini, and the continuous batred, intolerance and misogny cited by christians of today to justify their own hatred.

    • …says the person typing on a computer (invented by an atheist) connected to the internet (invented by an atheist). The difference between atheists doing good and christians doing good is that atheists do good for the sake of their fellow humans. Christians do good for fear of eternal damnation or a reward in heaven. That is not morality, it is threats and bribery.

      • To be honest I think you'll find that most atheist people and most religious people who do good do it for the same reason, to do good because they're good people, as someone mentioned above. The problem tends to be in the institutionalised religions that really bear little resemblance to the original religions they came from.

        For context, I'm an atheist but that means nothing more than I don't do religion or gods any more, not that I do anything in the name of atheism. Like most atheists, my morals and ethics are on the whole identical to good religious people's morals and ethics.

    • What a pile of utter nonsense Hadashi, religious people are far more likely to do something awful in name of their religion than people who don’t have any beliefs in superstitious nonsense!

    • This is outrageous bullsh*t to post in public where you know smarter people are going to call you on it. Grow up. Get a life!

    • Atheism has yet to burn someone at the stake or kill anyone for a different belief. You are wrong on so many points

    • What an asinine statement. Just one example of your misinformation: All those schools, hospitals, universities, etc. were all built on the backs of citizens through slave labor, misappropriated funds, taxpayer ripoffs and always with an eye towards power, control and preventing secular groups from achieving a foothold. You and your ilk have been identified as the corrupt gangs that you are.

    • I think you overlooked the priest sex scandal that has been going on for centuries, even in today's world.

  2. Actually very little if any evil is done in the name of atheism. The killings you are are referring to were done in in the name of communism, which happens to be a religious ideology (read Karl Popper to understand how this works). Far less people have been tortured for believing in gods than those killed and tortured by believers for not believing in the proper way. And that is not an ideology. Apparently you have a problem in understanding what is and isn't a religious thinking. Religion is based on faith, on a set of unprovable as well as non-refutable assertions (which is why communism is religious thinking per Karl Popper, "class struggle," "sense of history," are dogma. Religious teachings are a waste of money and are costing billions due to people having absurd scientific ideas. Think of how much wealthy an economy would be if money wasn't spent anymore on immoral religious teachings.

  3. Excellent, well informed challenge to the previous post. I too see far more morality, kindness and humanity in atheists I know than in the Catholic church I grew up in. As for the fundamentalist Christians in the USA – their creationist beliefs, false morality and Trump loving is the most dangerous thing in “modern” America. Which seems to be heading backwards at a rate of knots.

  4. If the church is teaching kids for free, and their reward is only to enlighten young minds to bring real knowladge to those who seek it. Why do they force feed their religion on the pupils. Their mission should be teach, enlighten, broaden the View of the world. If then the child wishes to choose to worship a diety they can make up their own mind. The choice should be individual made at a time when there are facts one can consider.
    Who on this earth can say they made informed choices at the age of 8 or 9? Now apply the same question at 25. I’m sure our choice options would change.
    Don’t force feed doctrine to others, state your point of view to others and let them make the choice. Once they have the oppertunity and time to decide for themseves. No where in the bible of any other scriptures of the type does it state that you have to be a believer before a set age. You can convert at any time. But as we all know it’s easier to force your views and agenda on the young and impressionable.

  5. This confirms something I’ve found in my own surveys and which leads me to conclude that religion has become a ‘toxic brand’ in the UK. What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some of that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people.

    Institutional religion has become so crap by the 21st century….

    • they were always crap in the entire history, especially dark age are caused by priest being reckless dumb about ecosystem and blame black cat for being evil. (They catch rats that prevent plague)

      Institutional religion only have become APPARENT to be crap by the age of internet

  6. @Hadashi Actually, many people have just stopped buying the fake version of atheists described and spread by many Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. and have become increasingly aware of all of the stigmatization and marginalization religious folks are guilty of. I should probably also add that changing opinions are also the result of more and more people seeing religion for the ruse it’s always been. Your post makes it obvious that you have many of the same issues with reality that many other religious folks have, but so you know, when you attempt to twist history, lie about atheists, and leave out details to try to paint your pedo-religion in a more positive light, you are only proving the point of the article and helping to speed up the process.

    Since you didn’t do it, I’ll add the other important details about the Catholic Church’s history with medical care and hospitals: 1) The Catholic Church is responsible for millions of people unnecessarily suffering and countless people dying from preventable illnesses due to it’s restrictions of studying human anatomy and biology for hundreds years. 2) The Catholic Church’s hospitals have killed countless women due to their barbaric and unscientific opinions about birth control and abortion and have caused more children to be abused and neglected by forcing women to have unwanted children. 3) The Catholic Church has a history of seeing and treating suffering as a good thing that helps to bring people closer to Bible god and as a result has withheld medications and treatments that could have alleviated such suffering. Mother Theresa was guilty of supporting and promoting this barbaric belief and with also making people unnecessarily suffer.

  7. brillant response, Robert, thx…
    so sorry to discover this article like a year after it was written…

    will be posted on the "Club des Irréductibles Athées" FB page…

    cheers

  8. I think in any disagreement where religion is brought up, it only puts a layer of uncertainty that interferes with understanding.

  9. Propaganda is created for causes. Atheism is not a cause and atheists are not members of a group. We don't get together and plot how to unravel the world. We simply don't believe in tooth faries, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, religious faith and other nonsense. It doesn't mean we don't value good things that people who believe in nonsense do. We have our own nonsense – but we know it's nonsense.

  10. The great traditions or Religions like christianity and islam are social codes written down many hundreds of years ago by men. Whether or not you want to believe in them and follow them is a matter of personal choice but it is clear that they cannot help us move forward to address the challenges of the time most notably climate change. The codes were written in prescientifc age. I would like ‘science’ to become an alternative option when we are asked to give our religion in official documents. Atheist is too broad a term because it includes those who believe in markets and money and personal accumulation as goal of life.

    • When you write, "atheist is too broad a term", that indicates you, yourself, don't understand what you're writing about. Anti-theism does not equate to atheism. It is simply a rejection of the assertion, "there is a god". That's it. The fact that many atheists happen to be liberal does not mean atheism means liberal. That's like saying "religion" means the rejection of "personal accumulation" as you put it. We know that's not true as the Catholic Church killed off the Cathars specifically because the Cathars were ascetics. They rejected the accumulation of wealth and adopted a life of extreme devotion and poverty. The Catholics couldn't abide that being a core tenet of any Christian religion. So in 1184 by a papal bull of Pope Lucius III, the 1st Episcopal Inquisition was established "For the purpose of doing away with Catharism". So no, there are no tenets of atheism outside of the rejection of the assertion, "there is a God or Gods". That would take a belief system or philosophy.

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