Archive for February, 2010

Preaching to the Choir

February 18th, 2010 Comments off

Is the Choir Deaf?


D. Barbera, 2010©

Ten to fifteen percent of people on this planet will always do the right thing, regardless of religion, place of birth or race. In the United States, Christianity is the majority faith accounting for 65-75% of the population, but does it make a moral difference? No!

Following research from the Gallup Organization, the PEW Research Center and the Barna Group, an evangelical Christian organization, morality among Christians is the same, and in some cases worse, than the rest of the population. For instance, abortion is a subject guaranteed to raise tempers and opinions particularly from various religious groups across the country. Yet, according to the Guttmacher Institute Christians account for 70% of abortions in the United States. Obviously, the choir hasn’t been listening.

Family values seem to be in vogue with politicians and religionists since the Reagan administration, but the record shows that the highest divorce rate in the country is among evangelical and born-again Christians, particularly in the South, which happens to be the most religious portion of the country. Like abortions, births to unmarried mothers are also highest among Christians. What about those chastity vows taken by Christian teens? A large study shows that 88% of those signing the pledge to remain chaste until marriage, failed within 18 months.

A Christian magazine reports that almost 50% of Christian men are addicted to pornography, included among that group are church pastors and ministers. Men weren’t the only ones caught in the smut web as the same magazine reported that nearly 20% of Christian women suffered from pornography addiction. Sex is always high on the list of Christian voyeurism, but research shows they are no better at avoiding adultery, promiscuity or incest than the rest of the country.

The abuse of women is well-documented in the United States. Even the Bible, records page after page of female abuse. Christian men are actually more likely to abuse women and children because of the patriarchal teachings of their faith. Social researchers point out that fundamentalist men are more likely to abuse their wife and children.

What about those terrible Catholic priests molesting children? That’s old news as the list of Protestant clergy crimes is long and despicable including everything from sexual molestation of children and the elderly to rape and murder.

The South is the most religious portion of the country. It has the most Evangelical CHristians, the most born-again Christians, the highest rate of church attendance, the biggest belief in the God, the highest rate of Bible readership and highest rate of people who believe the Bible to be literally true. It would seem with such a strong religious underpinning, the area that pushes the rest of the country to improve its morals would be a Garden of Eden. It isn’t.

The South has the highest murder rate in the country and the death penalty has made absolutely no difference, especially compared to the more secular northern states where murder rates are less than half compared to the southern homicide talley. That is only one instance, but the dysfunctionality of the south is apparent even in general statistics. The South is the poorest portion of the country, the least educated, the most uninsured, the least healthy, the most obese and the most crime ridden. The list goes on to include the highest infant mortality rate and the most corrupt state in the Union, Louisiana, which even though the murder rate dropped, still has the a homicide rate more than twice the national average, the highest murder rate in the nation.

Overall, throughout the country it is apparent that Christianity’s impact in altering human behavior is infinitesimally small. To put it in a more stark perspective, 7 of 10 people are Christians and that includes the people in strip clubs, malls, night clubs, grocery stores, massage parlors, gas stations and peep shows. In other words, abberrant behavior is not limited to any one group and for a single group to act with moral superiority, it would seem at the very least their house would be in order. It isn’t.

There is no joy in reporting these tidbits, but it is past time for Christians to drop their arrogance and bigotry surrounding religion because it is clear not a one of them should ever cast a stone or even reach to pick one. The bottom line makes it clear that Christians, like their non-Christian counterparts, are people subject to the same wants, needs and temptations as the rest of humanity.

When it comes to behavior, the difference comes from character, not religion.

Attention! I will soon be releasing a book tentatively titled “Preach and Practice” or “Belief and Behavior” that covers the above topics in depth, complete with footnotes, bibliography and research notes. Currently, I am in the process of editing the final draft and I am looking for one or two readers for critical input—Ed

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