Study says religion is less of a moral anchor than you'd think
In an op-ed in the LA Times, sociologist Phil Zuckerman references multiple studies between religious and non-religious families to conclude that children actually have a stronger moral foundation without being exposed to organized religion.
According to Zuckerman, children raised without religion end up just as fine, if not better off, than their church-going peers. While Atheism is seen by many as void of moral and ethical standards, Zuckerman finds that Atheist children have stronger levels of empathy and critical thinking than those coming from religious families.
When raising children, parents often utilize religious upbringings to instill the notion of what is right and wrong. Family traditions also have a big factor and many subscribe to the “it worked for me” type of attitude, if that’s how they were brought up. Religiously affiliated schools can often be better options for parents when deciding where to send their kids.
Phil Zuckerman goes into great detail to debunk the “lack of morality in Atheist children” theory. He claims that because Atheist-raised children’s moral beliefs are based on human empathy, they are stronger than those whose are rooted in fear of punishment from God or damnation.
He finds that secularly raised children are more likely to treat others how they want to be treated without living in fear of a supernatural being’s judgement, but rather because it would personally make them feel bad.
“Nonreligious family life is replete with its own sustaining moral values and enriching ethical precepts. Chief among those: rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of “questioning everything” and, far above all, empathy,” says Zuckerman.