Christian fundamentalism is toxic: Recent research in criminology demonstrates a strong correlation between high rates of violent crime and conservative Christianity.
In The Devil You Know, the Surprising Link Between Conservative Christianity and Crime, Elicka Peterson Sparks, an associate professor of criminology at Appalachian State University, demonstrates that “fundamentalist Christian ideology is criminogenic – in others words it actually causes [crime].”
Of particular concern is “Christian Nationalism,” defined as a political ideology steeped in “a Christian right to rule,” and entailing a false revisionist history specifically focused on America’s founding fathers as devout Christians who did not believe in separation of church and state.
Pointing out that the United States has more fundamentalist Christians than any other nation, Sparks notes:
The United States also has a very high rate of violent crime, and particularly high rates of lethal violence – compared to other similarly situated nations.
This is not a coincidence…this belief system, and the culture it inspires, lends itself to many types of criminal activity including the promotion of violent crimes against a variety of victims, terrorism against those of different faiths, and even crimes against the environment.
Why does religion cause crime? Sparks answers that question with three points:
the explicit theology of violence present in fundamentalist religions;
the psychology attendant in insulating oneself from fear of death through religion;
and the promulgation of laws, policies, and programs to address crime that stem from this belief system.
Noting the violent biblical passages often cited by religious conservatives, their sense of righteousness, their dogmatic mindset that tolerates no dissent, and their support for harshly punitive measures toward “sinners,” Sparks shows that their worldview is the ideal seedbed for violence.
Bottom line: Conservative Christianity’s toxic mixture of fundamentalism, authoritarian politics, patriotism, and retributory justice actually causes crime.
For more information on this topic see: The Devil You Know, the Surprising Link Between Conservative Christianity and Crime.