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People who pray every day (whether or not they go to church) are 30 percentage points more likely to give money to charity than people who never pray (83 to 53 percent). Simply belonging to a congregation — whether one attends regularly or not — makes a person 32 points more likely to give (88 to 56 percent). And people saying they devote a “great deal of effort” to their spiritual lives are 42 percent more likely to give than those devoting “no effort” (88 to 46 percent). Even a belief in beliefs themselves is associated with charity: People who say that ‘beliefs don’t matter as long as you’re a good person’ are dramatically less likely to give charitably (69 to 86 percent) and to volunteer (32 to 51 percent) than people who think that beliefs do matter.br> There are many other areas where religion may help people. Some studies have found links between religiosity and physical or mental health, for example. Others have shown correlations between church membership and crime. These are controversial areas — they are difficult to measure, with plenty of people wanting the results to slant one way or the other.
Hitchens, to his credit, avoids the questions rather than simply citing studies he agrees with. But at the very least, Hitchens goes too far in claiming to debunk the notion that religion “makes people behave,” and it’s shocking he didn’t address Brooks’s work.
Yet if there’s one way God Is Not Great is useful, it’s as an encyclopedia of religion’s downsides. It’s worthwhile to mitigate religion’s evils, even bearing in mind there’s good as well.One could go on for days (and many have) about controlling religious conflicts around the world. So here, let’s focus on religion’s problems in America. Further, let’s ignore controversial areas (should the Ten Commandments adorn public buildings?) and concentrate on practices that are undeniably problematic. These typically involve parental beliefs foisted upon innocent children. (The squeamish should skip the following three paragraphs.)
Some members of Church of Christ, Scientist, for example, refuse to treat their children medically. Hitchens writes of Hasidic fundamentalists who use mohels to circumcise children — a mohel “take[s] a baby boy’s penis…cut[s] around the prepuce, and complete[s] the action by taking his penis in [his] mouth, sucking off the foreskin, and spitting out the amputated flap along with a mouthful of blood and saliva.”
And with a wave of Third World immigration, primitive rituals like female circumcision are finding their ways onto American soil. To be absolutely clear here, Hitchens describes female circumcision like this:”[It] involves the slicing off of the labia and the clitoris, often with a sharp stone, and then the stitching up of the vaginal opening with strong twine, not to be removed until it is broken by male force on the bridal night. Compassion and biology allow for a small aperture to be left, meanwhile, for the passage of menstrual blood.”
One obvious way to combat female circumcision is to cut back on immigration from these cultures. But barring that, the U.S. can take some serious steps against multiculturalism. There’s a great American tradition of leaving religion to its own devices, but that need not come with the expense of death and torture.
One positive sign is the case of Khalid Adem, an Ethiopian immigrant who circumcised his own daughter. Late last year he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of probation, in Georgia.p>When reprehensible behavior is excused on religious grounds, believing Americans give people like Hitchens ammo. But then again, Hitchens gives plenty of ammo against atheists. After his anti-Falwell tirade, Mary Grabar opined : br> /p>
That’s the thing about atheists: They greet death with great relish and glee. Along with their loss of an overall sense of sanctity goes their respect for the sanctity of the occasion. I imagine they have the neighborhood gossips giving the dirt over their own mothers’ ashes. Or upon the death of a spouse, perhaps they quickly dispense of the body and resume the pursuit of their next pleasure, which is the only solace they have in their little kingdoms of one.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?