Tag Archives: apathy

Does religion really battle apathy?

I posted this response to Martin Turner’s Lib Dem Voice article Apathy in the UK on the comments but I’m keen to see a response so I’m cross posting it here:

What he talked about was why he was backing religion in general (Greenbelt is a Christian arts festival), because it was a bulwark against the single most destructive thing in society: cynicism and apathy.

Really? Got any evidence for that? Or is it just based on “faith”?

The New Scientist has recently published a collection of 24 “Evolution Myths” one of the ones it debunks is that “Accepting evolution undermines morality” and in so doing it cites a recent study which demonstrates that most secular societies have lower rates of murders, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies, etc. (pdf).

I’m willing to add another for further investigation: secular societies in general have higher turnouts than religious ones. Contrast the US (turnout: 47.5% in 2006) and Iran (turnout: 59.8% in 2005) with the Netherlands (80.4% in 2006) and Denmark (86.6% in 2007). (source: International IDEA)

I’m not claiming that religion is a cause of apathy, but I am certainly arguing that to claim the opposite is crass and without foundation. Some would even go so far as to say that to make such claims is an act of cynicism. Physician, heal thyself.

Another point I could make: religion is most active in London in the East, where the Christian People’s Alliance and TELCO are active, yet turnout there is lower than anywhere else in the city. Turnout in City & East constituency also increased less this year than the London-wide average (6.4% against 8.4%). Again, I’m not claiming religion is a cause of apathy, but where is the proof it is the cure?