Being religious does not make you better behaved

BEING religious does not make you better behaved, researchers claim.

A new study found ‘no significant difference’ in the number or quality of moral and immoral deeds made by religious and non-religious participants.

The researchers found only one difference – Religious people responded with more pride and gratitude for their moral deeds, and more guilt, embarrassment and disgust for their immoral deeds

Researchers say the find means religious and nonreligious people have more in common than generally thought when it comes to moral experiences in everyday life.

‘To our knowledge, it’s the first study that directly assesses how morality plays out in people’s everyday lived experience,’ says Linda Skitka, a University of Illinois at Chicago psychologist. who co-authored the study, which was published in the journal Science.

The study also found little evidence for a morality divide between political conservatives and liberals.

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15 thoughts on “Being religious does not make you better behaved

  1. well, so much for the much repeated mantra of the religious, that with no god in tow, one has no reason or motivation for morality.


  2. 2 Timothy 3: Perilous Times and Perilous Men

    3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

    The Man of God and the Word of God

    10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.


    • “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come”

      Well it would be a bit odd if in the last days things were going really really well/


    • Monica, I don’t understand your response. The survey states that there is very little difference between religious and non religious. . This may be the way you want Observants of your religion to behave, this is obviously not the case.

      You haven’t addressed the post.


      • Hi MAG,

        It’s the Scripture that came to mind after reading the thread, particularly ” 5 having a form of godliness, but denying its power”. This speaks of those who claim to be Christian and yet display no discernable difference between themselves and non-believers. There are many of us like that around, unfortunately, but to be truly led by the Spirit of God means that you should stand out as someone with greater morals and empathy. So therefore I do not believe that study is representative of true Christianity, and certainly not in my experience.

        Sanctification is a work in progress, dependant on whether we truly submit our lives (as Christians) to the lordship of Jesus Christ (God’s authority). We can say ‘no’ if we don’t want to be humbled under the mighty hand of God. But saying no to God’s influence and dealings in our Christian lives isn’t going to make us more Christlike. I’ve experienced Christianity as someone who was baptised into religion as a baby, who was made to go to church against my will, and I have also known what true Christianity is by asking Jesus Christ to come into my life and changing me. He has….and continues to. I’m not by any stretch of the imagination perfect, but I am so much better than I used to be, and so are many of my Christian brothers and sisters. They are good folk, who because of God’s grace are changing from glory to glory. So no, I reject that survey. As far as I am concerned it is a false representation of true Christianity.


  3. Reblogged this on Christianity Simplified and commented:
    Morality comes from the result of one’s actions that result in an effect on others. It is a reflection of collections of such actions over time.

    That being said, a study has found that religious people are not more moral – they just tend to be more dramatic about their perceived moral victories and failings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If you are invited to a party and ignore the host and pretend the host does not exist, you can be the best behaved person there but you will still be rude and ungrateful.


    • How fortunate for the guest who realises there is a host to acknowledge and thank. But those who can’t realise this are ignorant rather than rude, I think. 🙂


      • Hey Strewth,

        Yep but it’s the guest who treats his host like a waiter, on the assumption that the real host is yet to be found, that’s even more ignorant and rude in my view.


  5. I know conversion to Christianity, particularly the more fundamentalist streams, can turn a person’s life around completely. I can imagine this survey applying well to them. Otherwise I am inclined to think many so-called Christians excuse themselves of much under the banner of ”we’re allsinners anyway.”


  6. The Bible tells us that after having 12 apostles, Jesus ordained another 70.

    So in total you would have had about 82 in Jesus’ inner circle.

    But eventually these 70 left Jesus meaning that He lost about 85% of His leading disciples.

    Then you have the betrayal of Judas. Score is 87% of His disciples lost.

    Did that make Jesus an ineffective religious leader?

    Jesus once told the parable of the sower, whereby not every seed that was sowed eventually matured and brought forth the desired crop.

    So why am I telling you all this? The Scripture is full of examples where the majority of the people who claim to be loyal to God, are revealed as fakes by a crisis.

    In Noah’s time only 8 people were saved despite the fact that the world’s population would have numbered in thousands if not millions. In Elijah’s time, God told him that He had 5000 people who had not sworn allegiance to Baal, despite Israel’s population numbering in 100 of thousands. Then you have 2 spies (out of a population of approx. 2 million Israelites) that eventually settle in the Promised Land.

    This survey does not prove that being religious does not make you better behaved. it proves the Bible when it tells you that not everyone associated with a religious idealism, is genuine or serious about their religion.


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