Hey, Calvary Fremont –
In a recent article I read, Carey Nieuwhof quoted Mark Clark who was quoting Rodney Stark. (I think all my attribution quotas are lined up right and I shouldn’t be sued for plagiarism!)
Rodney Stark is one of the most celebrated and respected sociologists of religion in the world. He’s written over 30 books, and more than 140 articles on subjects as diverse as prejudice, crime, suicide, and city life in ancient Rome, and has twice won the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. In one of his books, he sketches out some fascinating conclusions based on detailed sociological data that are so contrary to popular opinion and the assumed narrative of the post-Christian West that most will greet them with a filter of suspicion, or outright disbelief.
There are a hundred and one things Stark’s data concludes which you can read for yourself in more detail, but here are some of the more interesting ones. And again, let’s remind ourselves, his conclusions are based on actual research done by an actual sociologist and his colleagues, not what passes today as “research” – i.e., a Google search, or a scroll of your Facebook feed, etc. In his rigorous and pointed style, Stark shows that the academic literature routinely ignores evidence of religion’s beneficial social effects. He demonstrates that religious people:
- Are the primary source of secular charitable funds that benefit victims of misfortune whatever their beliefs
- Dominate the ranks of blood donors and other prosocial behaviors
- Are much less likely to commit crimes
- Far more likely to donate their money and time to socially beneficial programs and to be active in civic affairs. (The impact of religious people on volunteering alone is an estimated $47 billion annually in the United States alone!)
- Enjoy superior mental health – are deemed happier, less neurotic, and far less likely to commit suicide
- Enjoy superior physical health – have an average life expectancy more than seven years longer than that of the irreligious
- Read more than their irreligious friends and neighbors
- Are less likely to believe in the occult, UFO’s, Bigfoot, etc.
- More apt to marry, less likely to divorce, and report higher degrees of satisfaction with their spouse.
- Religious husbands are far less likely to abuse their wives or children. This is of course contrary to the story that religions create systems of oppression in the home because of ‘male patriarchy.’
- Religious fathers are more likely to be involved in youth-related activities such as coaching sports teams or leading Scout troops, etc.
- Religious couples enjoy their sex lives more, women are more likely to have regular orgasms, and sex happens more often. They are also far less likely to have an affair.
- Religious students perform better on standardized achievement tests, are far less likely to drop out of school, obtain better jobs upon graduation, and are far less likely to be on unemployment.
- In 247 studies done between 1944 and 2010: Religion has a positive effect on society in regard to crime, deviance, and delinquency.
- Crime rates in the US compared to the decidedly less religious countries of Western Europe are glaringly less in many categories, apart from homicide rates: Denmark has nearly two-and-a-half times as many burglaries per 100,000 people, and is exceeded by Austria, Switzerland, the U.K., Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The same is true for theft, and assault rates.
- Urban stats going from present-day back to the 1920s shows that the higher a city’s church membership rate, the lower its burglary, larceny, robbery, assault, and homicide rates.
Thank you, Rodney Stark for doing the demanding work of going through the data, mining the info, and reporting the results. Jesus said that He came that we might have life – and that more abundantly. The conclusions that Stark presents above are part of the abundant life.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim