Fredrik Persson’s claim of a large decline in morality due to a libertarian crusade against religion in public schools doesn’t hold up to an examination of the facts. The editorial cites juvenile violence as an example of declining morality, yet violent crime rates, among juveniles and overall, have declined considerably over the last couple of decades. Violent crime rates have declined a couple of percent from last year as well, according to the FBI’s 2004 Uniform Crime Report, so this decline is a continuing effect.
While many of us have good personal reasons to believe, the socially beneficial nature of religion is not a good reason to believe. There’s no evidence that putting more religion into our public government or schools would decrease the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases or violence. In fact, a recent study of first world democracies in the Journal of Religion and Society by Gregory S. Paul demonstrates a correlation between high rates of religious belief and high rates of STDs and high juvenile and early adult mortality. The study doesn’t show that religion is socially harmful, as it demonstrates correlation and not causation, but the study makes it clear that solving our problems isn’t as simple as mandating religion in the public domain.
James Walden, Ph.D.
Dept. of Computer Science
Northern Kentucky University