A new study in the journal Current Biology found children in religious households are significantly less generous than their non-religious peers.
At the same time, religious parents were more likely than non-religious ones to consider their children empathetic and sensitive to the plight of others.
It's a common assumption in the United States that faith goes hand-in-hand with goodness. The Pew Research Center reported last year that 53 percent of Americans think it's necessary to believe in God to be moral.
Americans overwhelmingly elect Christian representatives, and they distrust atheists.
This study challenges those attitudes. It was the children in non-religious homes most likely to be generous toward a stranger. The longer a child had lived in a religious home, the stingier he was compared to his secular peers.
Here is another obvious fact that people cannot accept without a study to back it up. And let's face it religious people are not going to accept it even WITH a study to back it up.
Clearly if you are raised to expect rewards for good behavior (Heaven) and dire consequences for bad behavior (Hell), and taught that you are constantly under surveillance (God) to monitor those behaviors, then you are going to have a severely underdeveloped morality.
Generosity and goodness cannot be forced on children through threats or rewards. They learn that by observing the example of those around them.
And those who are constantly struggling with doing the right thing, and who openly admit that their morality comes from their fear of a supreme being, set a very poor example indeed.
The non-religious among us give and take care of each other because it is the right thing to do, not to earn passage into eternal life.
To do it with the expectation of reward, cheapens what it means to be human.