Being religious doesn’t automatically mean you are good

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed its surprise at the reported remarks of Cherie Booth QC today which suggested that being religious was an indication of good character.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Cherie Booth’s remarks show a default assumption still made by too many in society that you are a good person if you are religious – that there is something intrinsically and self-evidently good about being religious and, conversely, that if you are non-religious you are somehow less moral. This is an assumption that persists despite there being no evidence whatsoever to support it.

‘Being religious does not endow people with some special morality or goodness unattainable by the rest of us. Evidence shows that being religious is not an especially important indicator of doing good works for others, nor does it make people less likely to commit crime, with the numbers of religious and non-religious people in prison being roughly proportionate to the wider population.

‘As our society has become increasingly non-religious, with laws built on secular principles of equality, human rights and freedom, we have actually seen increasing tolerance, respect and morality, becoming a less violent, less racist and more accommodating society than we ever were a couple of centuries ago, when religiosity was more widespread.’

Notes

For further comment or information, contact Andrew Copson, 07534 248596, 020 7079 3583.

Prison statistics show that over ¾ of prisoners are reported to have a religion.

Religious affiliation makes little difference in terms of volunteering. The 2001 Home Office Citizenship Survey finds that the proportion of people who volunteered and had a religious affiliation is similar to the proportion of people who had no religious affiliation, and this is true of both informal and formal volunteering.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.

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