The Instigator
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The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

As the U.S. becomes less religious, will crime get worse?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 769 times Debate No: 42878
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




The percentage of Americans who are members of a religion has been decreasing over the last 20 years and is projected to shrink. What should we expect? Is there a correlation between lack of religion and criminality or bad social behavior?

I actually believe that evidence proves the contrary. If you accept the debate it is simple, make a claim and give some evidence. The religion does not matter but you can make a case for any or one particular belief system. However, I think Christianity and Judaism are the most relevant because that is what is actually in decline.


Before I begin my argument, I'd like to make it clear that I am arguing from a Christian perspective when I deal with whether or not lack of religious belief increases crime and bad social behaviour.

That said, I firmly believe that atheism is a morally nihilistic philosophy, and therefore associated with increases in crime and the poor treatment of other human beings. As an example, we can look at the major atheistic regimes of the 20th century and the rate at which they murdered citizens in accordance with the atheist philosophy of naturalism;

Mao-Tse-Tung, Atheist: 40 million plus dead
Joseph Stalin, Atheist: 20 million plus dead
Adolf Hitler, Atheist: 15 million dead
Vladimir Lenin, Atheist: 5.5 million dead
Kim-Il-Sung, Atheist: 5 million dead
Pol Pot, Atheist: 2 million dead
Fidel Castro, Atheist: 1 million dead

It would seem that atheist doctrine has been responsible for more murders and more of the ill treatment of others than Christian theism.
Debate Round No. 1


The argument is really what we should expect as a result in a decline in religiosity.

So if the population changes from 90% and 5% other and 5% Atheist to 75% Christian 15% Muslim or Hindu or whatever and remains 5% Atheist the religiosity percentage is the same. Yes the nature of the religiosity is different but you are still dealing with a population that is 90% religious. The argument is about how a population is going to be affected with a decline in the percentage of adherents. This can be due to Atheism or just the lack of religion in general.

The side arguing the Pro side of the debate argues that he believes that the lack of belief in a religion (specifically Christianity) leads to mass murder (especially Atheism). He claims that due to the philosophy of Atheism this leads to the mistreatment of human beings.

He listed a table where he claims that the deaths at the hands of government leaders are because they are Atheists.

The biggest error I find is that Hitler was never confirmed to be Atheist but was indeed raised Catholic and baptized. So this needs to be addressed. Also while on the topic of Germany, the majority of WWII to Germans were Christians and had a history of antisemitism, at best there were around 5% Atheist population in Germany during the 1930s.

There are also claims that Hitler was into the occult:

So if you make a claim that Hitler was indeed Atheist please provide proof. Notice I am not making a claim what his religious believes were just that he was Catholic at least initially and there are other claims as well. He is irrelevant to the argument on what to expect from a society made up of primarily non-religious individuals.

Also a mass murder is a mass murder. I agree that numbers matter but it would be impossible for Fidel Castro to kill as many civilians as Stalin or Mao simply because Cuba only has 10-12 million people. The numbers are impressive because the population and technology in the 20th century enabled that eras monster to kill people easier. Would Genghis Khan not love to have machine guns and trains?

Here is a list of fatalities caused by people of faith:

Atlantic Slave Trade (1452-1807) Death Toll: 16 million
sanctioned by the Catholic Church and practiced by Christians

Mideast Slave Trade (ca. 700-1900)Death Toll: 19 million

Famines in British India (1769, 1876, 1896, 1943) Death Toll: 27 million

North American Native Genocide 12 million in 1500 to barely 237,000 in 1900

Mexico Natives 25 million in 1521 to 1 million in to 1650

Where do we go from here? Do you classify World War II Germany as a Christian population because they were the overwhelming majority, or as a nation led by a debatable Atheist? Either way it was Christians that did most of the killings.

That said. Can you show me an example of a SOCIETY where the people are not religious and that is why this atrocities happened? Please note that the majority of the people living in the countries you listed still held religious beliefs so they would not be an example of a non-religious society, Cuba is still 60% Catholic in present day and in higher numbers when the majority of murders you listed happened.

The real argument is do we expect an average citizen to just go out and kill people because most people don't go to church?

I think Religion can't be proven as a way to prevent bad societal behaviors. Lest I remind you that the religious texts of the largest adherents usually recommend stoning as a form of societal duty.


My opponent disputes the idea that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. I believe he may have been, based on the persecution of the Church under his regime. Here is some detail on the persecution of the Church in Germany under Adolf Hitler: Of course Germany was Christian as were most societies at the time, so it may have been the case that Hitler feigned religious tendencies to be elected to office.

He also states that I must show an example of a society under which people have suffered because of a lack of religion. I admit I cannot show examples of such socities and merely point to atheistic regimes where people have suffered because of the atheist beliefs propagated within those regimes. But those regimes are totalitrian, so it should suffice to show there leaders were atheists, rather than their societies. I believe they have mostly been proven to be atheists, and I rest my case that that philosophy caused harm to those societies.

Also if we need to show a society that was harmed by atheists, we can simply look at the French revolution and see the harm done to France by it to see the fruits of atheistic beliefs being accepted b the majority of a society.

Religion has also done a lot of good in Europe where the Orthodox Church in Russia helped rescue people from starvation when the USSR collapsed.

I think that overall religion does more good in society than harm and bad consequcnes ensue when people begin to lack faith en masse.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent claims that the persecution of the Catholic Church under the Nazis is proof of Hitler's Atheism. I agree that it occurred along with the well documented persecution of Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Gypsies but they did not persecute Catholics individually just the Church hierarchy and did not persecute the Protestant Churches to the same degree. Throughout European history Christians of different denominations have persecuted Christians of different faiths. Bloody Mary of England would be an example during her reign in the mid 1500s with 1.5M deaths as a result of her beliefs . The Nazis didn't single out Christians for concentration camps due to their faith but instead for being pacifists.

Germany has a history of antisemitism often propagated by religious leaders (Martin Luther) and the Catholic Church.

Also my opponent points out that Mao murdered millions of peasants because he was Atheist. This explanation is inadequate because China has a history of mass murders despite the rulers presumably being followers of a religion. This does not mean that they committed mass murder because of their faith but usually in order to acquire or maintain power and usually seen as an acceptable price for progress.

List of death tolls in Chinese history.

25,000,000 " Qing dynasty conquest of Ming Dynasty (1616"1662)
20,000,000 " Taiping Rebellion (1850"1864)
13,000,000 - An Lushan Rebellion (755"763)
10,000,000 " Era of Warring States (475 BCE"221 BCE)

This list is by no means extensive but is just an example of how you cannot use one example or event to prove a trend. That list totals 68 million deaths in China alone mirroring the 73.5 million of mass murdered under the instruction of "confirmed atheists" from his list.

He used 7 as examples of the consequences that non-religious (atheist specifically) individuals are responsible for. One member of that list has not been proven to be atheist (Hitler) , and another is a leader of a country that has a long history of mass murder by leaders (China). None of the members of his list were leaders of what would be called an atheist society. The vast majority of atrocities that occurred before the 20th century were at the hands of people of faith due to the fact that the majority of people in recorded history tended to be religious. An example would be the antebellum South where their devout belief and adherence to Christian principles caused them to propagate and defend the practice of slavery to the tune of 4 million human beings.

My opponent didn't address the claims of genocide and slavery propagated by religious societies and individuals I provided in the previous round.
My opponent did concede, PRO: "I admit I cannot show examples of such socities and merely point to atheistic regimes where people have suffered because of the atheist beliefs propagated within those regimes." But since "those regimes are totalitrian," that was enough evidence that "there leaders were atheists." This is a fallacy to assume that a totalitarian leader is necessarily an atheist. My opponent does nothing to prove that being atheist in itself causes an individual to behave in a manner that leads to mass genocide or mistreat human beings.

My opponent also mentions the French Revolution without specifying anything in particular relating to a non-religious society. PRO: "Also if we need to show a society that was harmed by atheists, we can simply look at the French revolution and see the harm done to France by it to see the fruits of atheistic beliefs being accepted b the majority of a society."

He seems unaware that some of the causes of the revolution were "popular resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the clergy, aristocracy and the King's court at Versailles." Prior to the Revolution the Catholic Church and Monarchy (perceived to receive its authority from God) alongside with the aristocracy were seen as abusive to the French peasants. The French Revolution is credited with transforming French society that resulted it to undergo "an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic, and religious privileges evaporated." The Revolution is, in fact, often seen as marking the "dawn of the modern era". The Revolution has had a significant legacy "within France itself, the Revolution permanently crippled the power of the aristocracy and drained the wealth of the Church, although the two institutions survived despite the damage they sustained." The Revolution had a component called the "dechristianisation movement," the Republic silenced these bells and sought simultaneously to silence the religious fervor of the MAJORITY Catholic population.

The Revolution represented the most significant and dramatic challenge to political absolutism up to that point in history and spread democratic ideals throughout Europe and ultimately the world. It is credited with helping bring an end to slavery in the French colonies, the avocation of equal rights for women (Journal de la Soci"t" de 1789). During this time thousands of men and even many women gaining firsthand experience in the political arena, "they talked, read, and listened in new ways; they voted; they joined new organizations; and they marched for their political goals. Revolution became a tradition, and republicanism an enduring option."

The French Revolution is exactly that, a revolution, it did result in the secularization of the society but only as a result of abuses by the the powers that be which included religious institutions. The French population did become more secular and that is usually credited with society becoming more egalitarian. The Revolution is seen as the turning point of the "modern era" and is used to indicate when western society started to transition from THE MIDDLE AGES!

My opponent claims that "I think that overall religion does more good in society than harm and bad." He only states that but offers no examples besides " Orthodox Church in Russia helped rescue people from starvation when the USSR collapsed." He needs to provide a source.

I believe I have provided sufficient evidence that a society composed by religious adherent majority will not prevent an individual or the society itself from participating or committing in atrocities.

If we compare murder statistics between a majority religious and a majority non-religious country to see if there is a trend.

CountryGallup (2006"2011)Sources:

non-religious murder rate/100,000
Sweden 88% 1.0
Denmark 83% 0.9
China 82% 1.0
Estonia 78% 5.2
Norway 78% 0.6
United Kingdom 76% 1.2
France 74% 1.1
Hong Kong 74% 0.2
Czech Republic 72% 1.7
Japan 71% 0.4
Finland 69% 2.2
Belgium 68% 1.7
Australia 67% 1.0
New Zealand 67% 0.9
Netherlands 65% 1.1
Cuba 64% 5.0
Luxembourg64% 0.6
Uruguay 64% 5.9
Hungary 63% 1.3
Germany 61% 0.8
Iceland 60% 0.3
Russia 59% 10.2
Bulgaria 58% 2.0
Latvia 58%3.1
Switzerland 57%0.7
Spain 55%0.8
Azerbaijan 54%2.2
Israel 54%2.1
Albania 53%4.0
Ireland 53%0.3
Singapore 53%0.3
Lithuania 52%
South Korea 52%
Austria 51%
Belarus 50%
Mongolia 50%

Most Christian countries

Samoa ~99% 1.1
Romania 99% 2.0
Malta 98.1% 1.0
Venezuela 98% 45.1
Greece 98% 1.5
Tonga 97.2% 1.0
Paraguay 96.9% 11.5
Peru 96.5% 10.3
El Salvador 96.4% 69.2
Kiribati 96% 7.3
Federated States of Micronesia ~96% 0.9
Barbados 95.1% 11.3
Papua New Guinea 94.8% 11.3
East Timor 94.2% 6.9
Armenia 93.5% 1.4
Philippines 93% 5.4
USA 75% 4.7

Overall countries with a high Christian adherents have higher murder rate compared to countries with high irreligious rates. The US has a higher murder rate than ALL but TWO!!! countries with a higher irreligious rate and lower rate than NINE!!!! countries with higher Christianity rate. I used ALL the countries with a 50% or greater irreligious rate and the top 21 Christian countries plus the US for the statistics. This indicates that there is a positive correlation that as societies become LESS religious their murder rates decline compared with countries that have citizens with more faith. There is proof that as the US has become less religious the homicide has also declined and we should expect further drops as the decline in religiosity continues.
My opponent has failed to prove that religion helps promote a peaceful society or that Atheism in itself cause people to commit murder. I believe that I have provided proof that as societies become more secular and less religious their murder rates tend to go down.


I concede.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent has conceded. Please vote for my argument.


I took up too much of a burden of proof on this debate I think. Ah well.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by missmedic 2 years ago
If the only thing keeping the religious people moral, is the fear of hell or the reward of heaven then they are immoral in the first place. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?
Posted by Kreakin 2 years ago
Generally it is the number of Police on duty that effects crime rates and not religion.
Posted by AbhijeetWatts 2 years ago
Hitler believed in God and was religious -.- He even said that he is doing God's work.

Atheism has never been the root cause of all crime. No one has ever killed in the name of Atheism whereas people have killed in the name of religion.

The most 'militant' of atheists right now, Richard Dawkins, writes books on atheism and evolutionary biology as well as general science whereas the most militant religious group of people, WBC as well as some others, are calling for the prosecution of homosexuals.
Posted by urapai 2 years ago
Don't forget to show your proof, or sources Pro.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by DudeStop 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Full points for the literal concession.