Does religion make people more ethical?


A Birmingham research centre study suggests that students professing a faith have a better moral code than those who are atheists or have no religion.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, an interdisciplinary research centre focusing on character, virtues and values, say the study shows that religion is related to character building. The study, carried out in 2013 and 2014, included 10,200 students and 250 teachers from 68 school. The researchers used surveys, moral problem tests and interviews.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 09.35.01During tests, students with a religion scored higher on a moral dilemma test. Within that group, those who actually practiced their religion scored better than those students who did not. Similarly, students who attended faith schools scored better on the moral dilemma tests than those attending non-faith schools.

The seven schools which scored best included faith and non-faith schools, from both the state and independent sectors, were both large and small and served both affluent and poor students. The same demographic applied also to the bottom seven. The author of the report commented that “with the right approach, it is possible for any kind of school to nurture good character.”

The author goes on to say, “Character education should help students move from motives of self-interest towards personal moral orientations concerned with others. Learning to consider and care about a wider picture beyond our own interests in situations in life is a habit that takes time and conscious effort to develop.

“Responses to the moral dilemmas show that many students responded to them from a position of personal interest, or from the perspective of not getting involved in a situation if they could act as if it was not happening.”

The report starts with a comment on a growing concensus in Britain that virtues such as honesty, fairness, self-control, gratitude and respect are a vital part of the solution to the current state of society.

See the full report here


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