James McGrath has a post on Religious Does Not Always Correlate with Ethics. McGrath’s point is valid insofar as religious and non-religious people are both capable of good and evil deeds. No sane person denies this! We all know that religion can bring out the best and the worst of people.
However, it seems that, generally speaking, religious people are nicer. No, that’s no good ‘ol evangelical propaganda, it’s not even intuition, its fact.
In a SMH article Simon Smart of the Center for Public Christianity writes a piece on God’s Truth, Believers Are Nicer Say Researchers. Smart refers to a study by Robert Putnam a professor of public policy at Harvard University that shows that generosity, volunteering, and charity giving by people of faith well and truly exceeds their secular counter-parts. Smart notes:
Their most conspicuously controversial finding is that religious people make better citizens and neighbours. Putnam and Campbell write that ”for the most part, the evidence we review suggests that religiously observant Americans are more civic, and in some respects simply ‘nicer’ ”. On every measurable scale, religious Americans are more generous, more altruistic and more involved in civic life than their secular counterparts. They are more likely to give blood, money to a homeless person, financial aid to family or friends, a seat to a stranger and to spend time with someone who is ”a bit down”.