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Religion Curbs Generosity

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Tagged As: Philanthropy, Religion, and Society

In the words of the great philosophers, the Wyld Stallions, "Be Excellent to Each Other." However, it would appear that a religious upbringing may reduce the level of excellence once demonstrates towards others. A study looking into the nature of sharing in children correlated a diminished tendency towards those with a higher exposure to religion. The researchers believe the behavior may be explained by "moral licensing" - much like having carbon credits exonerates one from environmental excess. It is postulated that people who do good by practicing faith, believe those in less fortunate situations may be deserving of it or that they themselves have less consequences for their own actions. According to the study's lead:

"This view is unfortunately so deeply embedded that individuals who are not religious can be considered morally suspect. In the United States, for instance, non-religious individuals have little chance to be elected to a high political office, and those who identify as agnostic and atheist are considered to be less trustworthy and more likely to be amoral or even immoral. Thus, it is generally admitted that religion shapes people's moral judgments and prosocial behavior, but the relation between religiosity and morality is actually a contentious one, and not always positive."

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