It’s because we’ve rejected God

Presumably, you’ve seen the absolutely asinine comments from Mike Huckabee and others that the shooting is a result of our society turning away from God. Raleigh’s own conservative columnist makes a similar, but much more interesting and empirically-based argument in the N&O today:

Make no mistake: We are confronting evil. Gun control laws don’t address evil, and neither do mental health professionals. Priests, rabbis and imams are experts in that field. Yet there has not been a serious call for Americans to return to the pews for some deep soul-searching and moral reassessment.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that church attendance would solve and prevent all of our social ills, but we stick our heads in the sand when we ignore empirical data that show regular church attendance leads to more socially desirable outcomes.

In December 2006, Dr. Patrick H. Fagen, then of the Heritage Foundation, cited 132 academic studies and reviews (“Why Religion Matters Even More: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability”) showing that regular church attendance led to a more stable family life, strong marriages and well-behaved children.

A habit of church-going also produced a reduction in domestic violence and substance abuse. In 2002, Dr. Byron R. Johnson of Baylor University (“Objective Hope: Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Review of the Literature”) reviewed hundreds of studies and found that the overwhelming majority concluded that rates of depression and suicide declined as religious practice increased.

I appreciate the turning to social science and not being simplistic, but there’s a big pile of data that suggests Martinez is flat-out wrong. That data?  The damn rest of the developed world– most all of which is substantially less religious than the US.  Here’s a chart from a fairly recent Pew study on religiosity around the world:

Okay, then, I hopped over to this very cool site which lets you plot data for the OECD countries of your choice, in this case homicide rate.  I chose the 6 least religious countries according to the Pew study (plus #8 Germany, Russia obviously does not qualify as a modern democracy) and compared to the U.S.  Results are not surprising:



Well, that’s pretty clear evidence.  These countries which have turned away from Church and God have way lower murder rates than the United States.  Nice try, Rick.  Hmmm, what’s different then?  Just maybe, could it actually be our gun laws and our gun culture?


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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