this article back in April and have been meaning to write a quick blog post about it. The results of 3 studies were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science showing that people who are highly religious are less compassionate to strangers than those who are atheist, agnostic or nonreligious. They also say that with those who are less religious or lack any religion are more generous based on compassion and that generosity is based on emotional and human bond. Those who are religious are more likely to do a generous act because of what their teachings tell them, or because of reputation or community. Now, it's not saying that religious people are not going to do good things for deserving people. It just points out that they will do it out of sense of obligation rather than feeling emotional attachment or camaraderie with other human beings.
What is also very interesting about this study is that they found that the majority of US citizens are less likely to trust people who are nonreligious. Considering that 84% of US citizen follow some kind of religion, it's amazing to hear that those 16% of the population who has no religious beliefs are the ones that are more likely to give you a hand carrying your couch up the stairs, travel to a foreign country to help with disaster relief or give a homeless person a couple of bucks.
Now this could become a very controversial subject if certain people were to hear of it. I am afraid to even touch on some of the ideas popping into my head at the moment. I think the thing that bugs me the most is the notion that those who don't follow a structured religion are seen as less trustworthy and less compassionate than those who believe in some kind of God. Lacking religious belief takes away moral beliefs as well? An atheist seeing a struggling stranger is going to pass on by because he/she doesn't believe in God? ...Huh? Maybe this person is more likely to help based on the fact that he/she does not believe in a higher being therefore knows only mankind is going to help out fellow mankind. If God ain't gonna help, who else is supposed to step up and lend a hand?
The other 16%. That's who!