By Jon Kauffman
Many atheists claim that Christianity is harmful to society. What does the scientific evidence reveal? Many scientific polls and studies have been performed demonstrating that without a doubt Christianity is very beneficial to people’s happiness, health and wealth. Stark assembles a few of these studies and polls to demonstrate the evidence for the benefits of Religion.
I recently finished reading “America’s Blessings: How Religion benefits Everyone, Including Atheists” by Rodney Stark.
Quote from the Introduction of “America’s Blessings:”
It is past time for a full accounting of the tangible human and social benefits of faith in American society and for the recognition that one of our nations’ primary advantages over many others lies in the greater strength of religion in American life. As will be seen, this accounting is surprisingly easy because mountains of little-reported research and reliable data exist on a wide range of important religious effects. For example, compared to less religious and irreligious Americans,
- At all ages, religious people are much less likely to commit crimes.
- Religious Americans are far more likely to contribute even to secular charities, to volunteer their time to socially beneficial programs, and to be active in civic affairs.
- Religious Americans enjoy superior mental health-they are happier, less neurotic, and far less likely to commit suicide.
- Religious Americans also enjoy superior physical health, having an average life expectancy more than seven years longer than that of the irreligious. A very substantial difference remains even after the effects of “clean living” are removed.
- Religious people are more apt to marry and less likely to divorce, and they express higher degrees of satisfaction with their spouses. The also are more likely to have children.
- Religious husbands are substantially less likely to abuse their wives or children.
- Religious American couples enjoy their sex lives more and are far less likely to have extramarital affairs.
- Religious students perform better on standardized achievement tests.
- Religious Americans are far less likely to have dropped out of school, which is especially true for African Americans and Hispanics.
- Religious Americans are more successful, obtaining better jobs and far less subject ot being on unemployment or welfare; this is true not only for whites but for African Americans.
- Although often portrayed as ignorant philistines, religious Americans are more likely to consume and sustain “high culture.”
- Religious people are far less likely to believe in occult and paranormal phenomena such as Bigfoot, UFOs, Atlantis, ghosts, haunted houses, and astrology.
Translated into comparisons with Western European nations, we enjoy far lower crime rates, much higher levels of charitable giving, better health, stronger marriages, and less suicide, to note only a few of our benefits from being an unusually religious nation. Quite aside from the social and personal benefits of religious effects, that add up to many hundreds of billions of dollars a year in financial benefits…
America’s Blessings is available on Amazon.
A few years ago, a debate between atheists and religious believers spilled out from the halls of academia and the pews of America’s churches and into the public spotlight. A crop of atheist manifestos led the charge, surmounting and holding the tops of the nonfiction bestseller lists. This offensive brought on an outpouring of religious rebuttals. As both sides exchanged spirited volleys, accusations were leveled; myths, stereotypes, and strawmen arguments were perpetuated; and bitter hostility filled the air. Today many of these misconceptions and myths linger on, along with the generally acrimonious spirit of the debate. In America’s Blessings, distinguished researcher Rodney Stark seeks to clear the air of this hostility and debunk many of the debate’s most widely perpetuated misconceptions by drawing from an expansive pool of sociological findings. Looking at the measurable effects of religious faith and practice on American society, Stark rises above the fray and focuses exclusively on facts. His findings may surprise many, atheists and believers alike. Starting with a historical overview, Stark traces America’s religious roots from the founding of the country up through the present day, showing that religiosity in America has never been consistent, static, or monolithic. Interestingly, he finds that religious practice is now more prevalent than ever in America, despite any claims to the contrary. From here, Stark devotes whole chapters to unpacking the latest research on how religion affects different facets of modern American life, including crime, family life, sexuality, mental and physical health, sophistication, charity, and overall prosperity. The cumulative effect is that when translated into comparisons with western European nations, the United States comes out on top again and again. Thanks in no small part to America’s rich religious culture, the nation has far lower crime rates, much higher levels of charitable giving, better health, stronger marriages, and less suicide, to note only a few of the benefits. In the final chapter, Stark assesses the financial impact of these religious realities. It turns out that belief benefits the American economy—and all 300 million citizens, believer and nonbeliever alike—by a conservative estimate of $2.6 trillion a year. Despite the atheist outcry against religion, the remarkable conclusion is clear: all Americans, from the most religious among us to our secular neighbors, really ought to count our blessings.