08 November 2015

Religion is bad for kids

It might strike some as surprising, but it shouldn't. A 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.


  1. Also, with religion children are taught that some alledged truths, such as Gods existence, must be accepted on faith. They are taught that when it comes to religion, they are to shut their minds down and just accept, no questions asked. The fact that in the 21st century we're still teaching religion to children, shows that we still have a long way to go in practicing reason to determine the truth or falsehood of any claim. Being moral has absolutely nothing to do with religion.It has everything to do with character.People choose religion, because partly or totally they don't want to think.Children should be taught to think, not to deny thought by accepting religion.

  2. I'll wait to see this experiment replicated before fully trusting it.

    It also doesn't seem to break it down enough, I can see this being true of conservative fundies, but what about more progressive dominations?

    I say this as someone who is neither christian, muslim, or athetist, so I have no stake in this research.

  3. This helps interpret the statistics: http://liturgy.co.nz/religious-children-are-meaner-than-secular-ones

  4. We all have, indeed need biased precepts, Liturgy, that is if we are to learn anything. But once confined to the doctrines of religious faith, such as belief in an all powerful all knowing god, accepting something new or different becomes next to impossible and denial a way of life. Statistics are only a tool, and in this case, the conclusion wasn't that religious children were meaner, but that the adults they grew into being were less tolerant of others.