How religion cuts crime: Church-goers are less likely to shoplift, take drugs and download music illegally
- Study found people who visit places of worship commit fewer crimes
- The more frequent the visits, the lower the chance of delinquent behaviour
- Crimes ranged from littering and music piracy up to the use of illegal drugs
PUBLISHED: 05:00 EST, 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 07:30 EST, 14 January 2014
People who regularly visit a place of worship are less likely to get involved in low level crime and delinquency, according to new research.
A survey from Manchester University found a direct correlation between higher visits to religious places and lower crime figures, especially in relation to shoplifting, drug use and music piracy.
Researchers believe this is because religion not only teaches people about ‘moral and behavioural norms’, but also spending time with like-minded people makes it less likely they’ll get mixed up with the ‘wrong crowd’.
CRIME AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
Last year researchers from the University of Oregon found that crime rates are higher in countries where more people believe in heaven than in hell.
The findings emerged from a study into 26 years of data involving more than 140,000 people from almost 70 nations.
Academics discovered that offences such as murders, robberies and rapes were more common in societies where punishment forms an important part of people’s religious beliefs.
This means a country where more people think there is a heaven than a hell, for example, is likely to see more offences than a nation where beliefs are more equally shared.
As part of the project, more than 1,200 18 to 34-year-olds from across all the UK’s major faiths were were asked about their worshipping habits.
They were also asked about any past misdemeanours, and the likelihood they would commit low-level crimes in the future.
In total, researchers asked respondents about eight varying types of delinquency including littering, skipping school or work, using illegal drugs, fare dodging, shoplifting, music piracy, property damage and violence against the person.
Although the study found varying degrees of correlation between increased church visits and decreased crime rates, the most significant were seen in relation to shoplifting, the use of illegal drugs and music piracy.
The researchers did not include more serious, high-level crimes because they ‘were too rare for the data to be able to show a significant pattern.’
PhD student Mark Littler from the university led the project. He said: ‘This research implies that the act of visiting a place of worship may trigger a significant reduction in the likelihood of involvement in certain types of criminal and delinquent behaviour.
‘In line with existing American research, my results suggest that it is the act of mixing with fellow believers that is important, regardless of whether this is via formal worship, involvement in faith-based social activities or simply through spending time with family and friends who share your faith.’
The study is the first time this type of analysis has been carried out in the UK and is due to be published later this year. It was funded by the Bill Hill Charitable Trust.
Littler added: ‘These results suggest a more positive picture of Britain’s religious life than the doom and gloom you might read about it in the newspapers.
‘But they are not necessarily a blow to the proponents of atheism: religious practice is just one way of gaining exposure to the pro-social behavioural norms that are at the heart of this relationship; other, more secular, activities may equally serve a similar role.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2539100/How-religion-cuts-crime-Attending-church-makes-likely-shoplift-drugs-download-music-illegally.html#ixzz2qOvnlULp
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