A colleague of mine put together two studies.Â One was a Pew poll of the U. S. population and the percentages of people by their respective religious beliefs.Â The other was a study done by the U. S. prison system of the prison population.Â Â
The study compared, by religion, Â the percentage of people in general population versus the percentage of the prison population.Â For example, Catholics are about 39% of the general population, but only 24% of the prison population.Â Protestants, on the other hand, are also about 39% of the U. S. population but are 51% of the prison population.
Six other religious groups are ranked.Â The three groups most likely to be in prisonÂ are protestants, Catholics and Mormons.Â Â The least likely, and by a large margin, are atheists and agnostics.
Each person can come up with their own explanationÂ for this surprising findings.Â Â But, it does seem to me, at least, to make a powerful point.Â That is, atheists have a moral grounding at leastÂ as good as religious people.Â It seems just not true that one needs religion to be aÂ moral, upright and good citizen.Â
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