L.A. Times: The Dark Side of Faith

Interesting article, and reasonably objective.

You’ll need to register (free) for the *L.A. Times* online edition, if you haven’t already.

9 Responses to “L.A. Times: The Dark Side of Faith”

  1. Brian Spence Says:

    That was such a great article. Lots of good “in your face!” facts. “You think atheists don’t have values? Well red staters suck because of a, b, & c! IN YOUR FACE!”

    Yes, I get childish when talking politics sometimes.

  2. Bob Kennedy Says:

    Some questions are so inherently biased and asked by people with such obvious agendas that there is no way to explore them with any degree of scientific detachment. “Scientifically speaking, why are Jews so stingy/Negroes so stupid/Mexicans so lazy?” I’m not sure “excessive religiosity” is even measurable. And while this study may confirm a lot of what you already felt deep in your Blue State liberal heart, please don’t confuse it with science.

    The choice of parameters was interesting. It allows the researcher to measure the brutality of Mississippi Baptists without comparing them to, say, Peruvian Maoists. Even in the shaky context of social science, the data are close to worthless.

  3. micah Says:

    This article is more an attack on Christian religions in the southern United States then an attack on religion in general. And more of a politically motivated attack on the right wing using religion and statistics as a platform for the attack. Which is fine, but the article should be a little more honest, and not use religion as a pretense.
    It’s hard to accuse Buddhism of breeding violence when the nonviolent stance of Tibetan Buddhists leaves them victimized and out of the news. Other groups would have resorted to terrorism, and probably been rewarded with greater media coverage, but in this case the religion prevents that.
    In fact, this article should really be attacking Southern Baptists, since that is the dominant religion in the Southern United States.
    But the article doesn’t probe any deeper than it needs to. In my opinion, using statistics for a politically motivated attack. The article even acknowledges that it can’t prove any causality. Pretty scientific!
    This article makes a huge jump (a leap of faith?) condemning all who hold strong religious beliefs.


    PS. Picked up the first Hard Time collection and really enjoyed it. Hope that DC continues to collect the comics. I prefer the book format and it’s easier to find than the comics. I also recommend Wil Eisners the Plot to anyone who hasn’t seen it. It’s a good read and absolutely beautiful to look at.

  4. Bob Kennedy Says:

    If you want extreme religiosity, you really ought to include Quakers, Amish and Mennonites. These folks are pretty hardcore. By all accounts, their instances of “homicide, sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, abortion and child mortality” are a little below the national average.

  5. Nat Gertler Says:

    Are they? I find articles like this one – http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d001701-d001800/d001763/d001763.html – indicating that such groups seem to run a higher rate of farm-based childhood fatalities than farmers outside of their group.

    Keep an eye on those Mennonites: http://www.saturdaynight.ca/feature/article.cfm?listing_id=31

  6. Tom Walker Says:

    I got the Hard Time TPB today. Wow, good stuff – and barely a panel of exposition in sight, save cell numbers.

    Ethan Harrow gets fifty to life for a Thought Crime? haha God Bless America.

    What follows is the waffling of my head. There is no argument, no structure! All kinda inspired by the article and Gerbs.

    Your religion, like your spoken language affects your psychology. For good or ill, it must be said. Choose any religion, look at the psychology – does race affect religion – or does a religion create a “race”? Any psychological wobble creates a psychological/social wound, just give it a millennia or less..

    Religious texts are generally written by inspired men of distant times. Since they havent been EDITED by God, how can one then sure where the flaws of the man, the writer, creep in?

    This applies the the bible, the koran, whatever. The “colours” can be correct, but the texts may be darkened by the confusions of the time and the surroundings and even a certain bit of prejudice here and there.

    Thus fundamentalism seems innately unwise.

    Actually it starts to resemble the god-fearing peasantry of yesteryear. Seems like we’re breeding ignorance back into the race, really, but if it really Christian religious teaching, where is the Love at root?

    “Love thy neighbour as thyself?” Sounds so cody doesnt it? like love thy neighbours’ oil reserves as though they were thine own.. or Hate thy neighbour with the cold sanctimony that one Hates Oneself…

    In the USA I think there is a general daddy complex. A man can seem like a total fool before he’s president, but once he becomes DADDY, everything looks different.

    And God is Daddy, and JC is Daddy. That seems the psychology of it, in simple terms: Daddy saves. We need a woman president, someone who knows how to be a Mommy. haha

  7. Steve Gerber Says:

    “Excessive religiosity” may be difficult or impossible to define. Excessive declaration of religiosity, however, is relatively easy to recognize when you hear it and, in my opinion, serves as a reasonably good indicator that that “excessive religiosity” itself may be present.

  8. Bob Kennedy Says:

    Asking someone how “religious” they are is a little bit like asking how “sexy” they are. I self-identify as “extremely sexy.” An impartial observer would say I more closely resemble Ned Beatty than Brad Pitt, but self-identification is the key here. Could “excessive sexiness” be present? Is it measurable in ounces or volts? What branch of the physical sciences covers this?

  9. Charles Bryan Says:

    Well, there is no such thing as excessive sexiness, so there’s no way to measure it! (Actually, I think there might be, but its description is extraordinarily coarse.)

    As to the editorial itself, the bad science involved can be attributed to the failure to consider other relevant factors — most notably, in the international comparison, gun laws (I’m guessing here, since the article doesn’t indentify the other nations considered) and health care availablity.

    Inside the U.S., the economic differences between the areas explains more of what takes place than religious differences. Also, sociologically speaking, lower income individuals tend to belong to different religious groups (particularly fundamentalist religions) than do higher income groups (who tend to be Congregationalists and Episcoplians, if I remember my college Sociology classes correctly). Poor people like a God that loves poor people just the same as everyone else and might help them when they’re down; wealthier people like a God that rewards those who complete good works and “helps those who help themselves”.

    While anecdotal, my personal experience indicates that excessive religiosity is good when it helps people be more compassionate, generous, and caring; it’s bad when it makes them more judgmental and closed-minded.

    While I’m no big fan of religion in my personal life, I look at Rosa Brooks’ editorial and think that it just feeds the fire of those who want a Christian America.