Proposition 8 passed because of religious folk. There is no question about it. Church-going Black Americans, tithe-paying Mormons, mass-attending Latinos, and Evangelical whites all joined forces in “protecting marriage.” The underlying reason religious people voted to revoke from gays and lesbians the legal right to marry is doggedly theological: God doesn’t like it. And when a society or culture does things that God doesn’t like, that society or culture will suffer.
We’re seeing this going on now, as some fundamentalist Christians are saying that wildfires in California are God’s judgment on fags.
And it simply isn’t true. If God punishes societies that violate his commandments and rewards those that do, this just isn’t apparent by looking at the state of the world today. The sociological fact is that the most irreligious nations right now are among the most successful, humane, moral, and free, while the most religious nations tend to be among the most destitute, chaotic, crime-ridden, and undemocratic. A similar pattern also holds true within the United States: those states and counties that boast the greatest numbers of strong believers and regular church attenders tend to have higher poverty rates, child abuse rates, violent crime rates, and lower educational attainment rates than those states and counties characterized by more secular populations.
And so the richest, healthiest — and most pro-gay — nations are in the godless Neatherlands, whereas the most religious nations in the world, while reliably anti-homosexual, also tend to lack for freedom and money. (The exception, in the state to state comparisons: Utah.)
The writer, Phil Zuckerman, points out that there is a catch to this phenomenon, which is that forced atheism just brings about sucky totalitarian atheist states; the good effects of godlessness only happen when “secularism is not forced upon a captive citizenry by dictators, but emerges organically and freely over several generations.” And, of course, the direction of causation — or if there’s any causation here at all, rather than just correlation — is a real question.
But the fact remains — if you want to find a healthy, wealthy, free society, you’d do very well by just choosing any democracy where people don’t go to church very often.
From the Pew Global Attitudes Project:
Pew also notes:
Throughout Western Europe and much of the Americas, there is widespread tolerance towards homosexuality. However, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Israel stand apart from other wealthy nations on this issue; in each of these countries, fewer than half of those surveyed say homosexuality should be accepted by society. Meanwhile, in most of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, there is less tolerance toward homosexuality.
At the Statistical Modeling Blog, Andrew creates a similar graph for states of the US, and finds similar results — less religion equals more wealth. But he also notes an interesting result from within states:
…Overall we see a positive correlation between income and religiosity in poor states and a negative correlation in rich states: To put it another way, in Mississippi, the richer people attend church more. In Connecticut, the richer people attend church less.