The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Religion prevents people to commit crimes

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 837 times Debate No: 43350
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




Hi, everyone.

Religion is so much popular debate topic all the time. The faith in some higher cause is very interesting phenomenon of humankind so it’s tempting to come back to the question again and again :)

I’m an atheist (agnostic probably more precise). Like almost everything in the world have good effects and bad effects at the same time, so is the religion IMO.
Although some time ago I was quite radical atheist mocking at pseudo-logical arguments of believers, now I’m trying to understand the bigger picture and examine the positive effects of believing in God on society in general. Because of this, I’m not that radical now and I’m willing to listen to the both sides’ arguments carefully. So today I want to discuss one of those “good effects” that are on my mind for some time now with one of you.

My proposition goes like this:
Religion prevents people to commit crimes.

Now I’ll try to explain, what I mean. I will divide people into different categories:
(1) Non-believers with strong ethics. They have a sense of what’s good and what’s bad. They seek to be socially responsible (and they succeed).
(2) Non-believers with weak ethics. Being peaceful and trying to make as much good as possible and as little damage as possible is not at all their primary goal in life. They care about their wellbeing and they don’t mind to hurt the others. They are not afraid of God’s punishment so this makes them be more prone to crimes compared to the believers.
(3) Believers with strong ethics. They have a sense of what’s good and what’s bad. They seek to be socially responsible (and they succeed). Moreover being religious makes them to be even more social responsible, because they want to be good in the eyes of God.
(4) Believers with weak ethics. Just like (2), somehow they don’t feel inside the strong wish to contribute to the peace and friendliness of the world. They care about their wellbeing and they don’t mind to hurt the others. Even though they believe in God, somehow they don’t pay too much attention to that part of “do not kill”, “do not rob”, “love everyone”.
(5) Believers with weak ethics. Just like (4), except this time they act like (3) and the main reason for that - they seek not to violate God’s laws, even though they would like in their heart.

I want to discuss exactly this 5th category. Remembering my above proposition, it is this 5th group that I have in mind.

Here goes my second related proposition:
Even though believing in God isn’t rational and there are no proofs of God existence, religion makes huge impact on making part of the believers to behave in a right way. This is why loud atheists should shut up :)

Believers - Christians of nowadays (to prevent talking about crusades and other nasty things of the past).
Crimes - hurting people, robbery, etc.
Ethics - natural sense of what is good and what is bad. The source of this attitude is not a religion, but merely innate humanity and empathy.

Since I wrote quite a lot of letters in the opening, my opponent can start arguing right away.

Burden of proof - shared. My oponent should argue that, e.g.:
- Religion do not prevent people to making crimes.
- If something prevents people to make crimes, this is not religion.
- Even if the religion prevents the crimes, the impact of that in regards to ammount of crimes in the world is not worth our attention.

Looking forward to the interesting discussion.


I accept and I would like to thank pro for posting this interesting discussion this should be a lot of fun!

Now the first point I would like to make is that for the most part religion does not prevent crimes there are rare exceptions but for most cases religion does not do it. What could do it however would be basic ethics and having knowledge of morals and having empathy in general.

I would also like to bring our attention to this source.

It states that less religious countries tend to be more peaceful than the more religious nations, another statistic states on average atheists are in fact the most peaceful class in the US!
Debate Round No. 1


I want to thank my opponent for accepting the debate.

Firstly, I want to respond to my opponent's points.

He says "for the most part religion does not prevent crimes". This statement needs some kind of proof. At the moment it's just an opinion.

My opponent also shares the source where statistics are made that less religious countries tend to be more peaceful. I'm not sure if we can take this as an argument for the topic, since we should crystallize relevant information from the research first. Firstly, I'd like to talk only about Christian countries, because it just so happens that majority of hot spots in the world is Islamic countries. Whereas, North America, South America, Europe, Australia - they're mostly Christian continents and they're relatively safe continents too. So if we make the calculations on Christian countries only I somehow believe that we would have different results.

Now I have my argument.
As I was searching for some researches, I've noticed that researchers quite often find it difficult to show the negative correlation between religiousness and delinquency. However there is work of James M. Day, William S. Laufer who looked at the problem in a different way and they state that they've found the reason why previous researchers failed to find the correlation.

"It is not whether an individual kid goes to church or believes in hell that influences his or her delinquency. What is critical is whether the majority of the kid's friends are religious. In communities where most young people do not attend church, religion will not inhibit the behavior even of those teenagers who personally are religious. However, in communities where most kids are religious, then those who are will be less delinquent than those who aren't." [1]

So the authors propose that even though from a psychological perspective it could be difficult to find the positive influence on people behavior, this influence is very clear from a sociological perspective. And the critical point here is the density of believers in the group of people. If the majority of people in the group are religious, the numbers clearly shows that believers will do less crimes than non-believers in that group.

[1] James M. Day, William S. Laufer (1987). "Crime Values and Religion".


"This statement needs some kind of proof. At the moment it's just an opinion."

The data in this source includes the real factors that prevent most of the murder in the US.

"Firstly, I'd like to talk only about Christian countries."

Staying away from less Christian countries I would like to focus on the US which has a 76% rate of Christians. Some of the statistics listed on the source state things about our own country such as.

"Louisiana" which happens to be one of the most religious states in the US "has murder rates twice the US average."

And that "the Bible Belts murder rates are significantly higher that the US average"

So statistically speaking your claims that towns with more religious people have lower crime rates falls short.
Debate Round No. 2


Regarding Con's source "Christianity and the Murder Rate". Indeed it shows some interesting statistics. What it says though is this: in some cases the countries/states with high church attendance rank have high murder rate. However there is very important remark in that same source:

"Does all this mean that religion "primarily Christianity" causes violence?
No, as Steve Chapman so clearly points out in his recent Slate article, relationships don't necessary mean causal relationships."

Indeed, causality is very interesting and very important aspect of studies like this. The possible explanations of these results could be the following:
a)The Christianity somehow is the cause of people being more violent. (Argument for Con).
b)The actual cause of murder rate are the social factors like poor educational level, low economic status, low social tolerance, lack of liberal viewpoints in society. In this picture believing in God isn't the cause of wrongdoing but only the effect of social factors that were just mentioned. (Not an argument for Con).

Secondly, the study doesn't show that the murderers are those who attend church :) One can perfectly assume that majority of criminals are the ones who do not believe in God. The source would have much stronger value to the topic if it made the calculations about which part of society (believers or non-believers) was apt to break the rules more.

That is why the study is not very strong argument for Con at most.

Going back to my source in previous post, I want to add and clarify this:
The research finds the negative correlation between religiousness and delinquency in US areas where the research was done. Although there is a condition to make this correlation true - the density of believers should be high enough. When this requirement is met, we can see that believers do less crimes compared to non-believers. [2]

One more argument of mine:

There is a research about religiousness effect on crime rates of black youth in US inner-cities. [1]

The study shows that black male youth who are religiously committed are less likely to do illegal activities, use drugs or alcohol. Other factors, e.g. stronger bond to family and school, more conventional peer networks, or higher involvement in productive activities, were taken into account to understand if it is really the religion that prevents the youth from making crimes and the study shows that it is clearly the religion that to some degree really causes the positive effect.

[1] John J. DiIulio, Jr, "Religion: The Forgotten Factor In Cutting Youth Crime and Saving At-Risk Urban Youth" (1998).
[2] James M. Day, William S. Laufer (1987). "Crime Values and Religion".


My argument is not necessarily that religion causes people to become more violent my argument however is that religion usually does not prevent people from becoming more violent. What does however include

"high education levels

"high economic status

"social tolerance

"liberal viewpoints

now a part of my argument states that Christianity is a blockage to most of what I listed. While non belief and atheism enables what I have listed. And with the data shown in my statistics I have a strong argument.
Debate Round No. 3


"now a part of my argument states that Christianity is a blockage to most of what I listed. While non belief and atheism enables what I have listed"

Well, this is quite strong expression :) I could agree with "social tolerance" and "liberal viewpoints". Christians lack those more often than atheists. However saying that Christianity is a blockage to high education levels and high economic status is too brave I think. Majority of Christians in my environment are highly educated people...

As I started this topic, I had no strong confidence that my propositions are right. I just thought that it should be logical that believers should generally do less crime because there should be portion of people who don't have strong ethics but they believe in all-seeing-eye, and they believe that they will be punished in this life or afterlife.

As I started to search for information, I've found out that there is no consensus among researchers whether being theist affects criminal behavior, since there were studies which both have and haven't found correlation between religiosity and crimes. The study that I referenced in the second round was able to explain why previous studies couldn't find that correlation. This might suggest that previous studies may have used incomplete or even wrong methods.

At the other hand, even if Christians do less bad things than atheists, this difference is probably quite insignificant.

All in all I still vote PRO :)
I want to thank CON for the debate.


"However saying that Christianity is a blockage to high education levels and high economic status is too brave I think."

I didn't really mean to come off as generic because saying that Christianity as a whole is a blockage to crime solution is in fact generic. I meant to exclude the more progressive Christians who are usually not Bible literalists and take stupid scriptures literally and as fact while they take other ones out of context. I was targeting the more vocal Christians.

All in all, I really have nothing else to say about your Round 4 argument.

I would like to wish Pro luck in the voting period of this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Con simply didn't do enough in this debate to win it. I see a lot of correlative arguments with no causative analysis or reasons why we should believe him. It's up to him to supply those. I don't see any argumentation on how religious fanatics, who would be among those with strong ethics, can also cause major crimes, even on a whole new level. So all I have left from Con is that religion prevents people from exploring issues more deeply, another unwarranted claim, nor does he warrant anything about needing intelligence to be ethical. Con gives me no reason to vote for him. Pro gives me several, and while I find many areas of disagreement, as I don't hear about them in the debate, Pro wins on arguments. He also wins sources, as his were significantly better. The conduct goes to Con because Pro redefined the debate to be just about Christianity in the second round. I'd say that's a little much, but since Con didn't say anything about it, it didn't factor into the round itself.