Why aren't Christians better than other people?

The naive answer:

Christians are better than non-Christians.

The problem with the naive answer:

The facts and data show that societies with stronger religious beliefs are rarely better than secular societies by almost any measure. Many individuals that have performed horrific acts of violence have been Christians.

The scholar’s answer:

For society, religion can be used to encourage good behaviors, but it also is the best tool for fostering discrimination against others as well as harsh judgements of others. These negative effects, present in societies with strong religious beliefs, lead to poorer outcomes on average for much of society. For individuals, religion can lead some to become more tolerant of others, but it can also provide reasons for some to become more intolerant and violent toward others.

Here are a few examples showing being Christian is not better than not:

  • Secular countries are not worse off than Christian countries. In fact, with the exception of the U.S., the more religuous a country is, the poorer the country tends to be.
  • Life expectancy in more religious states in the U.S. is not higher than life expectancy in the more secular states in the U.S.
  • Violent crime rates in more religious states in the U.S. is not lower than in the more secular states in the U.S.
  • Some Christians are rooting for the destruction of the world: YouTube video
  • Thousands of Catholic Priests and ministers and preachers of other branches of Christianity have been convicted of abusing their position to have sex with children.
  • Most cults that isolate their people from others and harm and exploit individuals are Christian based.
  • Many families that abuse children and prevent them from attending public schools use passages from the Bible to justify their abuse.
  • The percentage of people in prison that claim to be Christian is higher than the rate of people claiming to be Christian that are not in prison.
  • “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil, that takes religion.” Steven Weinberg

Logically, we can conclude that living in a Christian society is not better than living in a secular society. But studies show that societies in which everyone has very similar beliefs are stronger than societies where there are differing beliefs. When a society has multiple belief systems, it is often slightly better for the belief system in power and much worse for the other belief systems, and the average is worse than secular societies or societies with a single belief system. Furthermore, religion may help some individuals become better people, but it also gives justification for some people to do more harm to others.

Some references for further research: