Religious Children Are Meaner Than Their Secular Counterparts, Study Finds

According to a recent study, children from religious families are less caring and more punishing than ones from non-religious households.

The study revealed that religious beliefs and practices negatively influence children's selflessness and judgment of others' behaviors, even as their parents consider them 'more empathetic.'

This research was conducted by seven universities worldwide between children from religious and non-religious families to examine the relationship between religion and morality.

The author of The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children's Altruism Across the World, published on Current Biology, said:

"Overall, our findings ... contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others."

"More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularisation of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness – in fact, it will do just the opposite."

Around 1,200 children in the US, Canada, Turkey, China, South Africa, and Jordan participated in the study.

All these children, 43 percent Muslim, 27.6 percent non-religious, and 24 percent Christians, were aged between five and 12 years.

The number of other religions, including Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and agnostic, was insignificant to be statistically valid.

During the study, the kids were asked to select a sticker and then told that the labels weren't enough for every kid.

Researchers wanted to see how the kids would share the stickers.

The kids were also shown videos of children pushing and bumping each other to assess their reactions and response.

The results of the study found that:

"Children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households."

"Older children, usually those with longer exposure to religion, exhibit[ed] the greatest negative relations."

It was also discovered:

"Religiosity affects children's punitive tendencies. Children from religious households frequently appear to be more judgmental of others' actions."

Muslim children were found to be more unkind than other religions. The study also found non-religious children to be less judgmental.

Muslim children also demanded harsher punishments than Christian and non-religious kids suggested.

The research reported that religious parents were more likely to consider their children as "more empathetic and more sensitive to the plight of others."

According to the study, out of 5.8 billion humans, 84 percent of the population identify as religious.

The report of the study stated:

"While it is generally accepted that religion contours people's moral judgments and pro-social behavior, the relation between religion and morality is a contentious one."

After the study, Keith Porteous Wood of the UK National Secular Society said that the report was a "welcome antidote to the presumption that religion is a prerequisite of morality."

Keith Porteous Wood added:

"It would be interesting to see further research in this area, but we hope this goes some way to undoing the idea that religious ethics are innately superior to the secular outlook."

"We suspect that people of all faiths and none share similar ethical principles in their day to day lives, albeit may express them differently depending on their worldview."

However, according to the Pew Research Center, most people worldwide think it's necessary to believe in God to be considered a moral person.