study by academics from seven countries suggests that children from religious families are less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious families. According to the researchers, "Overall, our findings ... contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others. More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that the secularization of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness—in fact, it will do just the opposite."
The study included almost 1,200 children, aged between five and 12, in the United States, Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey and South Africa. Almost 24 per cent were Christian, 43 per cent Muslim, 28 per cent non-religious, and five per cent other. They were tested on their willingness to share and their reaction to film of children pushing and bumping one another.
Not only did the results “robustly demonstrate" that Christian and Islamic children were "less altruistic than children from non-religious households,” but older children, i.e. those with a longer exposure to religion, “exhibit the greatest negative relations.” The study also found that religious children, “frequently appear to be more judgmental of others’ actions.”
A Pew Research Center study in 2014 found that most people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. Most people would appear to be wrong. The world might well be a much better place if children were never contaminated with religion.