"A CHARITY set up by an ardent Christian to fight slavery and the opium trade has identified a new social evil of the 21st century - religion. A poll by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation uncovered a widespread belief that faith - not just in its extreme form - was intolerant, irrational and used to justify persecution. Pollsters asked 3,500 people what they considered to be the worst blights on modern society, updating a list drawn up by Rowntree, a Quaker, 104 years ago. The responses may well have dismayed him. The researchers found that the “dominant opinion” was that religion was a “social evil”. Many participants said religion divided society, fuelled intolerance and spawned “irrational” educational and other policies. One said: “Faith in supernatural phenomena inspires hatred and prejudice throughout the world, and is commonly used as justification for persecution of women, gays and people who do not have faith.”
Many respondents called for state funding of church schools to be ended."
The Sunday Times, April 20, 2008
An excerpt from the report:
See also: Socialevils.org.uk
"There was disagreement among participants around the issue of religion. Some identified the decline of religion in society as a social evil. [...]
A more dominant opinion, however, stood in stark contrast to this: some people identified religion itself as a social evil. This group generally focused on one of three issues: the “erosion of secularism”; religion as cause of intolerance and conflict; and religion as a source of irrationality."
What are today’s social evils? The results of a web consultation (Pages 30-31) (PDF, 418KB)