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2CH news comments

Religious belief and child morality

#1152 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 15 November 2015.

Researchers from the University of Chicago claim belief in God makes children “less moral.”

The research, based on a study of 1,151 kids from various countries who watched a video of bullying behaviour, led to claims that non-religious children were more altruistic, less judgmental and less severe on bad behaviour than religious children, leading researchers to conclude that faith increases selfishness.

But it’s not supported by the evidence. The authors did not disclose the nationality of children. They failed to account for “religiosity” based on culture. They ignored political outlook, and poorly assessed socio-economic status, measured by the kids’ mothers’ education.

They glossed over interpretive issues. The view that religiously educated children may punish bad behaviour more severely than non-religious could merely indicate an immature but developing moral compass.

It seems neither good nor bad behaviour in children is directly attributable to religious convictions – either of the children themselves, or their parents.

I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.

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