The Terrible Cost of Christianity

This post by Mark Fulton originally appeared at MadMikesAmerica.

“My own view on religion is that…I regard it as…a source of untold misery to the human race.” —Bertrand Russell

Consider Christian history. There have been literally hundreds of wars started or inflamed by Christian intolerance. Millions of people were murdered in the crusades, the Inquisition, witch-hunts, and as a consequence of forced conversions in America and Africa. For centuries women, homosexuals, scientists, Jews, and Muslims have been attacked or suppressed. Churches have opposed secular education, fought against each other and resisted scientific advances. Churches have been the cause, not the cure, of many of the world’s ills.

Many people today, even Christians, are disgusted by the typical church’s pursuit of power and money.

Church people commonly claim that if all communities were Christian the result would be moral health, peace, and happiness. I don’t believe that, and have some statistics to back up my opinion, as there is a good study that addresses this very issue. The American Gregory Paul is an independent researcher on subjects dealing with paleontology, evolution, religion, and society. In 2005 he undertook a study titled “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look.” It was published in the Journal of Religion and Society and can be found here.

Gregory Paul was attempting to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with social health. He wrote that his paper was a “first, brief look at an important subject that has been almost entirely neglected by social scientists…not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health.”

The paper compared statistics from first-world developed countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States). It focused on these prosperous democracies, because:

“[L]evels of religious and nonreligious belief and practice, and indicators of societal health and dysfunction, have been most extensively and reliably surveyed” in them. Also,

“The cultural and economic similarity of the developed democracies minimizes the variability of factors outside those being examined.”

“Dysfunctionality” was defined by indicators of poor societal health, such as homicide rates, youth suicide, low life expectancy, STD infection, abortion, early pregnancy, and high childhood (under five years old) mortality. “Religiosity” was measured by belief in biblical literalism, frequency of prayer, and service attendance, as well as absolute belief in a creator, in order to quantify religiosity in terms of ardency, conservatism, and activities. The study had a massive sample size of eight hundred million, mostly middle-class people. The data was relatively current, collected in the middle and latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s from the International Social Survey Program, the UN Development Program, the World Health Organization, Gallup, and other reputable sources. What did the results show?

Japan, Scandinavia, and France were the most secular nations. The United States is the only nation in the study considered to have high rates of religiosity, a feature other studies have demonstrated is otherwise limited only to the so called second and third worlds.

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide. The US has by far the highest homicide rates.

There is a remarkable positive and consistent correlation between pro-theistic factors (especially regarding absolute belief in God, and prayer) and juvenile mortality.

Life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity rise, especially as a function of absolute belief. Denmark was the only exception.

Higher rates of belief and worship of God in all countries correlated with higher juvenile and adult sexually transmitted diseases. Rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection were six to three hundred times higher in the USA than in less theistic secular developed democracies. Gonorrhea is markedly more prevalent in the USA’s adult population as well. The USA also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates. These STD’s have been nearly eliminated in strongly secular Scandinavia. In my opinion, the reason is obvious. Christian parents and schools often refuse to educate adolescents about basic sexual hygiene.

Belief in and worship of a creator shows a positive correlation with increasing adolescent abortion rates in all countries. Rates of abortion are uniquely high in the USA. It also strongly correlates with higher rates of early adolescent pregnancy. Teenage birth rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. than in all the other countries. In my opinion, the high rate of adolescent pregnancy and abortion is because Christians typically refuse to educate adolescents about contraception.

No democracy in this study was shown to have both strong religiosity and comparatively high rates of societal health in any of the parameters measured. The opposite is true. Only the secular, pro-evolution democracies had the lowest rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex-related health issues, and abortion. The three least theistic democracies—Japan, France, and Scandinavia—also have the best figures in these categories.

Interestingly, within the United States, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west have markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, and youth pregnancy rates than in the northeast part of the United States, where secularization and acceptance of evolution approach European norms.

Let’s pause for a moment to discuss religiosity in America. President Ronald Reagan once said,

“Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.” I suspect there’s much truth in that!

There’s a widespread belief in American folklore that America is “God’s country” because metaphorically it’s a “shining city upon a hill.” The source of this idea is in the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus says to his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matt. 5:14, KJV.)

Some recent American presidents and presidential contenders, namely John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, and George W. Bush, have all claimed that the US was this “shining city on the hill,” by which they meant a shining example to the rest of the world.

The facts contradict this assumption. “God’s country” has the highest rates of murder, juvenile mortality, sexually transmitted disease, abortion, and adolescent pregnancy in the developed world.

I’ve no wish to offend Americans. My comments only point out that there appears to be a strong positive correlation between Christian religiosity and social problems.

This very large study proves that, statistically speaking, there’s no evidence that Christianity has a beneficial effect on society in first-world countries in the parameters mentioned. Christian communities aren’t better, healthier, or safer than secular societies, in fact the data suggests the very opposite.

Gregory Paul believes that America is slowly becoming as secular as its peers.

Despite the statistics, it’s a fact Christian people sometimes do provide social benefits. There’s no doubt some Christians do excellent humanitarian work, particularly in the developing world. I think this happens primarily because good people do altruistic things for those less fortunate. I genuinely respect and admire these good people, but think everyone would be better off if they could help others without bringing god into it.

Mark Fulton is a practicing physician on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. His practice focuses on preventative holistic medicine.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. "In gold we trust." Yes, that precious "money-god" is the most powerful and most worshipped in the entirely civilized world.
    In fact, that powerful God starts helping us long before we are born — when our parents start collecting small toys and delicate
    clothing for that gracious baby that is coming; and the helping continues through our lives when that caring God supports
    us, by paying for our housing, food, clothing, education and everything that can make our lives more enjoyable and dynamic. At the end, when we pass away, that most graceful God still takes care of our last funeral bills. Super God!

  2. The thing about Atheists is that they seem to lie alot and they can’t seem to control themselves from their overexaggerations.

    Like you for instance. You put your opinions on here but not facts.

    Then you generalize all Christianity as the same.

    Christianity was concocted by the Jews. A sect of Jews broke off from the majority….this is how you know Jesus really existed.

    Pagan Rome killed these people off. Some Christians hid underground.

    300 yrs later pagan Rome concocted Catholicism. Still loosely mixed with paganism.

    This is why still till this day Catholicism is vastly different from Christianity.

    So basically a world conquering Rome adapted to “Christianity” still having that world conquering attitude started spreading Catholicism by the edge of the sword.

    Christianity is a peaceful religion.

    Catholicism is a destructive religion being mixed with paganism.

    It was against the churches rule for anyone individual to actually read the bible.

    They would be killed.

    This is what you call APOSTASY.

    you should know that word.

    If your hatred for religion is based on the Catholic regime im with you. I understand.

    But that doesn’t mean that there’s no God.

    I must ask you. If you actually believe that there is no God what alternative explanation do you have to explain where life and the Universe came from?

    Surely you must know.

    • the burden of proof lies on christians. must i remind you that your "faith" is what made up all of this god crap. so, let's go, prove god DOES exist.

    • Things Jesus is quoted as saying:

      – "The Law never changes." -This means a lamb a day per family, stoning gays and adulterers, and all the rest.

      – "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." -Gentiles not invited.

      – "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." -He'll be back during their lifetimes.

      He also commanded his followers to live like the birds and flowers, just waiting for God to provide. Don't work, don't save, just rely on handouts.

      He also demanded his followers sell their cloaks to buy swords.

      He said he'd be in the tomb three days and three nights, because Jonah. This non-sequitur did not prevail, however. He popped out early, disproving the prophecy.

      In his defense, a dead body in a closed room probably gets pretty rank around Day 3.

    • Well put, and I find it crazy that the writer of the article says that the burden of proof lies on Christianity, when it wasn’t a Christian who wrote the article, and provided no proof, other than going on about Popery as if it is Christian all of time.

  3. After you prove a god 'exists' tell us where 'he' came from. Surely you come from the school of creation, who 'created' god?!

  4. To all Christians, you are hypocrites, why, because you falsely judge, condemn the inocent, and show prejudice towards others who are not like you, and haven't confromed to your beliefs._I have read the bible from beginning to end more than a few times, attended various church services, and viewed many televised ministered sermons. What I see from it, is peoples interpretation of their religion and bible, in a way that justifies their selfish beliefs. They do not see the truth that is written in their bible because of the selfishness that is in them. Because of your selfish ways, you choose to believe you are special, and that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for you, by dying on a cross so that your sins can be forgiven and be allowed in heaven. You are wrong if you believe that, there is only one thing that Christ was trying to teach everyone, and that was to be unselfish, he told what it meant, and how to be unselfish. Dying on the cross was his finale act in showing what the most unselfish thing someone could do for others, and that was the willingness of giving up ones life to save the lives of many.
    Christians believe we are born with sin, (Sin being anything that goes against God), and therefore we must be baptized in Jesus Christ name to wash away sin. The truth is Sin is selfishness, every wrong doing is done because of a selfish reason, no matter what it is, to lie, cheat, steal, hate, to take someones life, even your own, the reason will always be a selfish one. To say we are born with sin is to say we are born selfish, we are not, we are taught and learn to be selfish as we go through life. Christians believe you must confess that Christ is the one true son of God, love, worship, and praise him, and be baptized, if you want go to heaven, that's like saying, " Santa won't bring you any toys if you're not good". The truth is you cannot wash selfishness away, and you cannot pray to God, Jesus Christ, or anyone else to make you a selfless person, only you can make that choice. What do you think Christ meant when he said, "You cannot serve two masters," do you believe he was talking about God and the Devil? You are wrong if you said yes, Christ's meaning was, you cannot be unselfish sometimes and be selfish at others, and Christianity has many selfish beliefs.
    Do you believe a man loving another man, or a woman loving another woman that is more than just friendship, is a sinful act? You are wrong if you said yes, where is the selfishness, they are just two people sharing their love for each other.
    Next time you are in church or reading your bible, ask yourself are you understanding the truth, or are you only hearing what justifies your selfish beliefs.

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