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Religious kids are harsher and less generous than atheist ones, study says.

Religious kids are harsher and less generous than atheist ones study says OregonLive com


When it comes to teaching kids the Golden Rule, Sunday school might not be the best bet.

A new study in the journal Current Biology found children in religious households are significantly less generous than their non-religious peers.

At the same time, religious parents were more likely than non-religious ones to consider their children empathetic and sensitive to the plight of others.

It's a common assumption in the United States that faith goes hand-in-hand with goodness. The Pew Research Center reported last year that 53 percent of Americans think it's necessary to believe in God to be moral. 

Americans overwhelmingly elect Christian representatives, and they distrust atheists.

This study challenges those attitudes. It was the children in non-religious homes most likely to be generous toward a stranger. The longer a child had lived in a religious home, the stingier he was compared to his secular peers.

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I and a few others have known this since we were children.

Is there a reason why religious kids are harsher and less generous?

Seems like it's possible these are two different behaviors. They tested generosity by having the kids share stickers with peers of their same ethnicity. Sharing is obviously something taught by religion, but many religions see 10% (tithing) as plenty. The other test was actually more interesting to me: religious kids were more likely to JUDGE THE BEHAVIOR OF OTHERS harshly, despite the near-universal explicit teachings of religion not to make that mistake. And this test was across religions and locations!

Religious kids tend to be more judgmental. Makes sense since they're taught that they're being judged. 

The fact that you are being externally judged, and also ostensibly being taken care of and protected, may tend to remove agency.  We know that, in all kinds of ways, people need to feel empowered, in control, responsible, and at risk to fully engage, grow, and become fully competent.  Separately, I think there are various mixes of psycho-social currents within congregations that cause certain interpersonal attitudes and reactions.  Holier than thou in general, cliquish show-off dressing, orthodoxy trumping, etc. all can be forms of aggression or similar.  Some non-religious paths may avoid training to most of these malculture situations, especially when properly informed based on the best of our culture and supportive and constructive social circles.

I wonder if kids who learn a martial art would be more disciplined and less harsh. 

Maybe because they are trained in hypocrisy.

I do think both generosity and judgment are learned behaviors. 

I guess the children of atheists learn generosity as a good thing to do just because it's a good thing to do.

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