A Guardian article, Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds, reports, "Religious belief appears to have negative influence on children's altruism and judgments" and punishments for others' actions.
The study, which aimed to test the relationship between religion and morality, of close to 1200 Christian, Muslim and non-religious children, showed that children from religious families are less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious households.
The Guardian article reported,
"Overall, our findings ... contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others," said the authors of study.
"More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularisation of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness -- in fact, it will do just the opposite."
It's even worse. The study reports:
"Here, we show that religiosity, as indexed by three different measures, is not associated with increased altruism in young children. Our findings robustly demonstrate that children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households. Moreover, the negative relation between religiousness and spirituality and altruism changes across age, with those children with longer experience of religion in the household exhibiting the greatest negative relations."
"A second major finding from these data is that religiosity affects children's punitive tendencies when evaluating interpersonal harm. Interestingly, this result is in sharp contrast with reports that patterns ofmoral judgments made by subjects with a religious background do not differ from those who are atheists. .... Research indicates that religiousness is directly related to increased intolerance for and punitive attitudes toward interpersonal offenses, including the probability of supporting harsh penalties . For instance, within Christianity, fundamentalists tend to be more punitive and advocate for harsher corrections than non-fundamentalists....
"The report was "a welcome antidote to the presumption that religion is a prerequisite of morality", said Keith Porteus Wood of the UK National Secular Society.
"It would be interesting to see further research in this area, but we hope this goes some way to undoing the idea that religious ethics are innately superior to the secular outlook. We suspect that people of all faiths and none share similar ethical principles in their day to day lives, albeit may express them differently depending on their worldview."
"The paraphernalia of organized religion - buildings and specialized personnel, rituals, dogmas, ceremonials, and the like - are to the "peaker" secondary, peripheral, and of doubtful value in relation to the intrinsic and essential religious or transcendent experience."
"For most people a conventional religion, while strongly religionizing one part of life, thereby also strongly "dereligionizes" the rest of life."
". . I finally began to use the word "non-peaker" to describe, not the person who is unable to have peak-experiences, but rather the person who is afraid of them, who suppresses them, who denies them, who turns away from them, or who "forgets" them.