Friday, February 05, 2010

Being religious doesn’t automatically mean you are good

source: highlights comments: Read Andrew Browns Blog in The Guardian & 540+ comments

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed its surprise at the reported remarks of Cherie Booth QC today which suggested that being religious was an indication of good character.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Cherie Booth’s remarks show a default assumption still made by too many in society that you are a good person if you are religious – that there is something intrinsically and self-evidently good about being religious and, conversely, that if you are non-religious you are somehow less moral. This is an assumption that persists despite there being no evidence whatsoever to support it.

‘Being religious does not endow people with some special morality or goodness unattainable by the rest of us. Evidence shows that being religious is not an especially important indicator of doing good works for others, nor does it make people less likely to commit crime, with the numbers of religious and non-religious people in prison being roughly proportionate to the wider population.

‘As our society has become increasingly non-religious, with laws built on secular principles of equality, human rights and freedom, we have actually seen increasing tolerance, respect and morality, becoming a less violent, less racist and more accommodating society than we ever were a couple of centuries ago, when religiosity was more widespread.’

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