Over on Huffington Post, Phil Zuckerman makes an interesting comparison between very religious nations and relatively secular ones in respect to the Christiantists’ claim that God smites heathen nations.
Consider the nations of Scandinavia specifically. These countries are noteworthy because they were among the first nations to make abortion legal and readily available and they were also among the first nations (along with Holland) to allow for gay marriage. Indeed, gays and lesbians have been able to wed in these countries of Northern Europe for nearly 20 years now. And what is the state of society in these relatively irreligious nations, where weekly church attendance is among the lowest in the world and belief in God is markedly thin? They lead the world on nearly all indicators of societal well-being. From economic prosperity to low crime rates, from equality between men and women to excellent child welfare, from life expectancy to low rates of H.I.V., the relatively godless (or at least God-indifferent) nations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Holland suggest that secularity – and acceptance of gay marriage, specifically — doesn’t bring down the wrath of God at all. And yet when we look at the most religious nations in the world – especially those that severely condemn homosexuality, such as Iran, Angola, and Mauritania — we see extreme poverty, high violent crime rates, oppression of women, dictatorship, warfare, corruption, etc..
Where is the best place to be a mother and raise children? According to the latest Save the Children Report, it is relatively godless Sweden. The worst? Extremely Godful Niger. How about murder rates? Highly religious Columbia leads the globe, while highly secular Japan is near the bottom. What about strong economies? According to the World Economic Forum, of the top ten nations boasting today’s most competitive economies, nine are relatively irreligious (the USA being the sole exception). According to the latest Global Peace Index, the top five most peaceful nations are simultaneously among the most secular, such as Denmark, which ranks in at #2. Even when it comes to suicide rates, it is the former Soviet nations that lead the pack, some of which are fairly secular, but most of which are quite religious, such as Lithuania.
When it comes to God and the acceptance of gay marriage, the religious supporters of Proposition 8 certainly have a right to their opinion. But that doesn’t make their opinion right.
Zuckerman does note the glaring exception of communist nations that are both godless and totalitarian as being lousy economically and violent socially. The take-away from his piece is that secularism + democracy = stronger economy, lower crime. Read the entire piece. As the first commenter on the piece notes, “The only difference between an atheist dictatorship and fundamentalist religion is the fact that one has a visible dictator, while the other has an invisible one.”