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.”

In an unrelated video, noted American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist Sam Harris offers a detailed explanation of why he feels morality based on the Christian God is lacking.

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  1. If we were to follow the doctrines of the Church , in obedience to the Bible, we would be locked up as sociopaths. If we only followed the examples of the Church leaders, we would be raping children or burning people as witches, or seeking to criminalize sexuality, or, or, or – it goes on and on. There is nothing of merit in religion.

    This is because of the dogma, not just because of a few bad apples. Prescriptive dogma is a sickness and must be treated as such – especially when wielded against those who cannot defend themselves. The utopian bullshit that never hits the ground running (hitting it with a spatter instead) is bleak, death worshiping, and utterly dystopian.

    Meanwhile religion seeks to hijack our finest HUMAN qualities and redefine them in their terms for their purposes. Atheism allows us to define meaning, love, compassion, purpose and all those other human qualities as HUMAN qualities, rather than allowing them to be assimilated, warped and used by a dogma. Atheism allows us to see humans as humans, rather than as intrinsically evil monsters that need to be dominated into submission "from above." And this is a basis for a true morality that is a human enterprise, for humans, of humans, and by humans, based in compassion and empathy rather than dominance and control.

    It is well past time to put the madness of religion behind us.

    • Wow,never a truer word spoken.people like you should be in a leadership role of some sort
      to provide guidance above the structures in place today eg; governments and religious entities
      Cause of the words I’ve just read of yours are more positive and realistic than anything i have ever recieved from the 2 entities i stated
      by any way,shape or form.I myself have felt a powerful urge to fulfill my complete life journey that of my time of pass i can accept i had a good go,with no convictions,gave it my all and accomplished fulfilment.This is my destiny and if it was to be i am prepared to take it on all on my own and if you ever decided that you needed support with your endeavours about this topic I’d be the first in line.
      Cheers, to the Chap with Champion
      Views and Points of Realism.
      Paul Walsh

    • AMEN!!!! I couldn’t have said it any better. Your commentary is right on. I used to belong to the Jehovah’s witness organization and was “disfellowshiped” for what I will call “a human being being human”. I know now how harmful a suppressive belief can be. Taking the humanity, (all the attributes, the frailties, independent thinking, putting a hex on all aspects of sexuality) away from an individual can make one feel like they are living in a box with on lid. I applaud your view loudly. Thanks for giving it to the world.

  2. Well said Dglas Raaat!. The human race badly needs to grow up. If all children were raised by atheists until they were 12 years old and all religious books were destroyed religion would die out as it should.

  3. 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. Were you? In my opinion…religion is the greatest insult to the intelligence of the human races intellect.

  4. We lose track of the origins of religion. These beliefs were crafted by primite and superstitious mentalities. Their fantasies have been carried through the aged by guilt and ignorance. Today we begin to understand that each and every Biblical event was totally impossiblr because the violated every physical law of the Universe. This ordered Universe can in no way be supressrd or altered, and we are too blindly indoctrinated by parentd, peers and especially clergy, who make their living by lying to children. Relihion doesn’t deserve to linger as it does. It is false and hateful.


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