Dawkins, 2006 R. Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, London (2006).Dawkins’ (2006) recent book The God Delusion suggests that it is not intelligent to believe in the existence of God. In this paper we examine (1) the evidence for this contention, i.e. for whether there is a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief; (2) whether the negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief is a difference in Psychometric g; and (3) whether there is negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief between nations.
2. Intelligence and religious belief within nations
We are by no means the first to suggest the existence of a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief within nations. This phenomenon was observed in the 1920s by Howells (1928) and Sinclair (1928), who both reported studies showing negative correlations between intelligence and religious belief among college students of âˆ’Â .27, and âˆ’Â .29 to âˆ’Â .36 (using different measures of religious belief). In the 1950s Argyle (1958) concluded that â€œintelligent students are much less likely to accept orthodox beliefs, and rather less likely to have pro-religious attitudesâ€.
Evidence pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief within nations comes from four sources. These are (1) negative correlations between intelligence and religious belief; (2) lower percentages holding religious beliefs among intelligence elites compared with the general population: (3) a decline of religious belief with age among children and adolescents as their cognitive abilities increase; (4) a decline of religious belief during the course of the twentieth century as the intelligence of populations has increased.
2.1. (1) Negative correlations between intelligence and religious belief
A number of studies find negative correlations between intelligence and religious belief. A review of these carried out by Bell (2002) found 43 studies, of which all but four found a negative correlation. To these can be added a study in the Netherlands of a nationally representative sample (total N =Â 1538) that reported that agnostics scored 4 IQs higher than believers (Verhage, 1964). In a more recent study Kanazawa (in press) has analysed the data of the American National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a national sample initially tested for intelligence with the PPVT (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test) as adolescents and interviewed as young adults in 2001â€“2 (N =Â 14,277). At this interview they were asked: â€œTo what extent are you a religious person?â€ The responses were coded â€œnot religious at allâ€, â€œslightly religiousâ€, â€œmoderately religiousâ€, and â€œvery religiousâ€. The results showed that the â€œnot religious at allâ€ group had the highest IQ (103.09), followed in descending order by the other three groups (IQsÂ =Â 99.34, 98.28, 97.14). The relationship between IQ and religious belief is highly significant (F (3, 14273)Â =Â 78.0381, p <Â .00001).
2.2. (2) Lower percentages holding religious beliefs among intelligence elites compared with the general population
In corroboration of these studies finding negative correlations between intelligence and religious belief is evidence comparing the percentages of religious believers among intelligence elites compared with the general population. This was shown as early as 1921 in a survey of the religious beliefs of eminent American scientists and scholars that reported that 39% stated that they believed in God (with a range of 48% among historians to 24% among psychologists) (Leuba, 1921). It was reported by Roe (1965) that among a group of 64 eminent scientists, 61 were â€œindifferent to religionâ€, leaving approximately 4.8% as religious believers. These are much lower than the percentage religious believers in the population among whom 95.5% in the United States stated that they believed in God in a 1948 Gallup Poll (Argyle, 1958). In the 1990s a study of members of the American National Academy of Sciences reported that 7% believed in the existence of God, as compared with approximately 90% found in a poll of the general population (Larsen & Witham, 1998). In Britain, it has been reported that 3.3% of Fellows of the Royal Society believed in the existence of God, while 78.8% did not believe (the remainder being undecided) (Dawkins, 2006). At the same time a poll showed that 68.5% of the general population believed in the existence of God.
2.3. (3) Decline of religious belief with age among children and adolescents
Also consistent with the negative correlation between intelligence and religious belief is the decline in religious belief during adolescence and into adulthood as cognitive ability increases. This has been found in the United States for the age range of 12â€“18Â year olds by Kuhlen and Arnold (1944) who reported that among 12Â year olds 94% endorsed the statement â€œI believe there is a Godâ€, while among 18Â year olds this had fallen to 78%. Similarly, in England Francis (1989) has found a decline in religious belief over the age range 5â€“16Â years. Religious belief was measured by a scale consisting of questions like â€œGod means a lot to meâ€ and â€œI think that people who pray are stupidâ€, etc., and the scores on the scale are shown in abbreviated form in Table 1. The finding that girls score higher than boys has frequently been found (see e.g. Argyle, 1958). In another study, among 12â€“15Â year olds at a Protestant school in Northern Ireland, favourable attitudes to religion fell steadily and significantly (p <Â .001) with each year of age by approximately 0.75 of a standard deviation over the 4Â year period, while the correlations between a favourable attitude to religion and IQ turned increasingly and significantly negative (p <Â .001) (Turner, 1980). These results are summarized in Table 2. (These trends were less clear for a Roman Catholic school).
Decline in percentage holding religious belief, with age (Francis, 1989)
Age N Boys Girls 5â€“6 400 87.9 96.0 11â€“12 400 79.6 84.1 15â€“16 400 55.7 70.4
2.4. (4) Decline of religious belief during the course of the twentieth century as the intelligence of the population has increased
There is evidence for a decline of religious belief during the course of the last 150 or so years, while at the same time the intelligence of the population has increased. The increase in intelligence is a well-documented phenomenon that has become known as the Flynn effect. The decline of religious belief has been shown by statistics for church attendance and for belief in God recorded in opinion polls. For instance, in England self reported weekly attendance at church services in census returns (these numbers may be exaggerated) declined from 40% of the population in 1850, to 35% in 1900, to 20% in 1950, to 10% in 1990 (Giddens, 1997, p.460); Church of England Easter week communicants declined from 9% of the population in 1900 to 5% in 1970 (Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi, 1975 M. Argyle and B. Beit-Hallahmi, The Social Psychology of Religion, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London (1975).Argyle & Beit-Hallahmi, 1975); the attendance of children at Sunday schools declined from 30% of the child population in 1900 to 13% in 1960 (Goldman, 1965). In Gallup Polls 72% of the population stated in 1950 that they believed in God (Argyle, 1958), but by 2004 this had fallen to 58.5% (Zuckerman, 2007).
There has also been some decline of religious belief during the course of the last century in the United States. Hoge (1974) has reviewed several surveys that have found a decline of religious belief in college students. For instance, students at Bryn Mawr were asked whether they believed in a God who answered prayers. Positive responses were given by 42% of students in 1894, 31% in 1933, and 19% in 1968. Students enrolling at the University of Michigan were invited to provide a â€œreligious preferenceâ€. In 1896, 86% of students did so; in 1930 this had dropped to 70%, and in 1968 it had dropped to 44%. At Harvard, Radcliffe, Williams and Los Angles City College the percentages of students who believed in God, prayed daily or fairly frequently, and attended church about once a week all declined from 1946 to 1966. Heath (1969) has also reported a decline in belief in God among college students from 79% in 1948 to 58% in 1968. Among the general population, Gallup Polls have found that 95.5% stated that they believed in God in 1948 (Argyle, 1958), but by 2004 this had fallen to 89.5% (Zuckerman, 2007).
3. Religious belief and psychometric g
To determine whether there is negative relation between religious belief and Psychometric g (the general factor in intelligence), the data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY97) have been analysed. The NLSY97 is a national sample selected to represent approximately 15Â million American adolescents in the age range of 12â€“17Â years in 1997. The subjects (N =Â 6825) were asked about current religious preferences in addition and took the Computer Adaptive form of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (CAT-ASVAB97). This test consists of twelve scales (10 power and 2 speeded). These were analysed in terms of Raschian probabilistic modelling and the resulting one-dimensional scale correlated .992 (Psychometric R) with general intelligence, g, (Principal Axis Factor Analysis (t(N âˆ’Â 2)Â =Â 662.62; p <Â .000). Atheists scored 6Â g-IQ equivalent points higher than the combined group of subjects professing to one or another of a large number of different religions. The difference in general intelligence among atheists and believers was significant even without using weighted data (t(1, 6.893)Â =Â 2.87; p =Â .004).
4. Intelligence and religious belief between nations
To investigate the relationship between intelligence and religious belief between nations we have taken the IQs of nations given in Lynn and Vanhanen’s (2006) IQ and Global Inequality. This source shows that these national IQs have high reliability, as shown by the correlation of .92 between different measures, and high validity, as shown by the correlation of .83 between the IQs and educational attainment. The high reliability and validity of these national IQs have been confirmed by Rindermann (2007). We have taken figures for belief in God from Zuckerman (2007) who gives data for 137 countries representing just over 95% of the world’s population. These data were collected from surveys mostly carried out in 2004, although in a few countries the surveys were a year or two earlier. Zuckerman collated these data from a number of different surveys in order to provide results that were as up-to-date as possible. Where he published more than one survey result for a given country we took the most recent one where this was indicated, but averaged them out where it was not. Zuckerman‘s figures consist of the percentages saying that they disbelieved in God, rather than the more frequent question asking for belief in God. Zuckerman draws attention to four problems associated with this data set. These are possible low response rates, weaknesses in random sample selection, regime or peer pressure influencing responses and problems of terminological variation between cultures over words such as â€˜religiousâ€™ or â€˜secularâ€™. Despite these possible sources of error however Zuckerman urges acceptance of the data by quoting Robert Putnam to the effect that â€œwe must make do with the imperfect evidence that we can find, not merely lament its deficiencies.â€
The data for the national IQs and percentages asserting disbelief in God for the 137 countries are given in the Appendix A. It will be seen that in only 17% of the countries (23 out of 137) does the proportion of the population who disbelieve in God rise above 20%. These are virtually all the higher IQ countries.
The correlations between the national IQs and religious disbelief are given in Table 3. Row 1 gives the correlation of 0.60 for the total sample and is highly statistically significant (p <Â .001). To examine whether this relationship holds across the whole range of national IQs we have divided the nations into two groups of those with IQs between 64â€“86 and those with IQs between 87â€“108. Row 2 gives the data for the 69 countries with IQs between 64â€“86. In this group only 1.95% of the population are non-believers. There is a range between <Â 1% and 40%, and the correlation between the two variables is only 0.16. Row 3 gives the data for the 68 countries with IQs between 87â€“108. In this group 19.99% of the population disbelieve in God. There is a range between <Â 1% and 81%, and the correlation between the two variables is only 0.54 (p <Â .001). Thus, most of the variation in religious disbelief is among the higher IQ nations.
The results raise four points of interest. First, the hypothesis with which we began this study was that there is a negative correlation between IQ and religious belief. We have reviewed considerable evidence for this negative relationship among individuals in the United States and Europe and have added a new data set confirming this. Second, we have shown that the negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief is a difference in Psychometric g. Third, we have extended this hypothesis to an examination of whether a negative correlation between IQ and religious belief is present between countries. Using data from 137 countries we found a correlation of 0.60 between national IQs and disbelief in God. Although the measure used for the analysis across nations was for disbelief in God rather than for belief in God, we believe it can be reasonably assumed that disbelief in God is highly (negatively) correlated with belief in God. Hence, we conclude that the negative correlation between IQ and religious belief that has been found in numerous studies within nations is also present between nations.
Second, this conclusion raises the question of why should there be this negative correlation between IQ and belief in God. Many rationalists no doubt accept the argument advanced by Frazer (1922, p.712) in The Golden Bough that as civilisations developed â€œthe keener minds came to reject the religious theory of nature as inadequate â€¦ religion, regarded as an explanation of nature, is replaced by scienceâ€ (by â€œkeener mindsâ€ Frazer presumably meant the more intelligent). Others have assumed implicitly or explicitly that more intelligent people are more prone to question irrational or unprovable religious dogmas. For instance, some 60Â years ago Kuhlen and Arnold (1944) proposed that â€œgreater intellectual maturity might be expected to increase scepticism in matters of religionâ€. Inglehart and Welzel (2005, p.27) suggest that in the pre-industrial world, humans have little control over nature, so â€œthey seek to compensate their lack of physical control by appealing to the metaphysical powers that seem to control the world: worship is seen as a way to influence one’s fate, and it is easier to accept one’s helplessness if one knows the outcome is in the hands of an omnipotent being whose benevolence can be won by following rigid and predictable rules of contactâ€¦one reason for the decline in traditional religious beliefs in industrial societies is that an increasing sense of technological control over nature diminishes the need for reliance on supernatural powersâ€.
Third, there are a few exceptions to the generally linear relationship between IQ and disbelief in God across nations. Two of the most anomalous are Cuba and Vietnam, which have higher percentages disbelieving in God (40% and 81%, respectively) than would be expected from their IQs of 85 and 94 (respectively). This is likely attributable to these being former or current communist countries in which there has been strong atheistic propaganda against religious belief. In addition, it has sometimes been suggested that communism is itself a form of religion in which Das Capital is the sacred text, Lenin was the Messiah who came to bring heaven on earth, while Stalin, Mao, Castro and others have been his disciples who have came to spread the message in various countries. On these grounds, it may be argued that many of the peoples of Cuba and Vietnam hold a variant of more conventional religious belief in God.
Fourth, the United States is anomalous in having an unusually low percentage of its population disbelieving in God (10.5%) for a high IQ country. The percentage disbelieving in God in the United States is much lower than in north west and central Europe (e.g. Belgium, 43%; Netherlands, 42%; Denmark, 48%; France, 44%; UK, 41.5%). One factor that could provide a possible explanation for this is that many Americans are Catholics, and the percentage of believers in Catholic countries in Europe is generally much higher than in Protestant countries (e.g. Italy, 6%; Ireland, 5%; Poland, 3%; Portugal, 4%; Spain, 15%). Another possible contribution to this has been continued high immigration of those holding religious beliefs. A further possible factor might be that a number of emigrants from Europe went to the United States because of their strong religious beliefs, so it may be that these beliefs have been transmitted as a cultural and even genetic legacy to subsequent generations. Parentâ€“child correlations for religious belief are quite high at 0.64 (fathersâ€“sons) and 0.69 (mothersâ€“daughters) (Newcomb & Svehla, 1937). It has been found that religious belief has a significant heritability of around 0.40â€“0.50 (Koenig, McGrue, Krueger & Bouchard, 2005), so it could be that a number of religious emigrants from Europe had the genetic disposition for religious belief and this has been transmitted to much of the present population.
ReferencesArgyle, 1958 M. Argyle, Religious Behaviour, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London (1958).Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi, 1975 M. Argyle and B. Beit-Hallahmi, The Social Psychology of Religion, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London (1975).Bell, 2002 P. Bell, Would you believe it?, Mensa Magazine (2002) Feb., 12-13.Dawkins, 2006 R. Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, London (2006).Francis, 1989 L.J. Francis, Measuring attitudes towards Christianity during childhood and adolescence, Personality & Individual Differences 10 (1989), pp. 695â€“698. Abstract | PDF (485 K) | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (41)Frazer, 1922 J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, Macmillan, London (1922).Giddens, 1997 A. Giddens, Sociology, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK (1997).Goldman, 1965 R.J. Goldman, Do we want our children taught about God?, New Society (1965) 27 May.Heath, 1969 D.H. Heath, Secularization and maturity of religious belief, Journal of Religion and Health 8 (1969), pp. 335â€“358. View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (1)Hoge, 1974 D.R. Hoge, Commitment on Campus: Changes in Religion and Values over Five Decades, Westminster Press, Philadelphia (1974).Howells, 1928 T.H. Howells, A comparative study of those who accept as against those who reject religious authority, University of Iowa Studies of Character 2 (3) (1928).Inglehart and Welzel, 2005 R. Inglehart and C. Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2005) 2005.Kanazawa, in press Kanazawa, S. (in press). De gustibus est disputandum 11: why liberals and atheists are more intelligent. (Unpublished).Koenig et al., 2005 L.B. Koenig, M. McGrue, R.F. Krueger and T.J. Bouchard, Genetic and environmental influences on religiousness: findings for retrospective and current religiousness ratings, Journal of Personality 73 (2005), pp. 471â€“488. View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (19)Kuhlen and Arnold, 1944 R.G. Kuhlen and M. Arnold, Age differences in religious beliefs and problems during adolescence, Journal of Genetic Psychology 65 (1944), pp. 291â€“300.Larsen and Witham, 1998 E.L. Larsen and L. Witham, Leading scientists still reject God, Nature 394 (1998), p. 313.Leuba, 1921 J.A. Leuba, The Belief in God and Immortality, Open Court Publishers, Chicago (1921).Lynn and Vanhanen, 2006 R. Lynn and T. Vanhanen, IQ and Global Inequality, GA: Washington Summit Publishers, Athens (2006).Newcomb and Svehla, 1937 T.M. Newcomb and G. Svehla, Intra-family relationships in attitude, Sociometry 1 (1937), pp. 180â€“205.Rindermann, 2007 H. Rindermann, The g-factor of international cognitive ability comparisons: the homogeneity of results in PISA, TIMMS, PIRLS and IQ-tests across nations, European Journal of Personality 21 (2007), pp. 667â€“706. View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (13)Roe, 1965 A. Roe, The Psychology of Occupations, Wiley, New York (1965).Sinclair, 1928 R.D. Sinclair, A comparative study of those who report the experience of the divine presence with those who do not, University of Iowa Studies of Character 2 (3) (1928).Turner, 1980 E.B. Turner, General cognitive ability and religious attitudes in two school systems, British Journal of Religious Education 2 (1980), pp. 136â€“141.Verhage, 1964 F. Verhage, Intelligence and religious persuasion, Nederlands Tijdschrift voor de Psychologie en haar Grensgebieden 19 (1964), pp. 247â€“254.Zuckerman, 2007 P. Zuckerman, Atheism: contemporary numbers and patterns. In: M. Martin, Editor, The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2007).
Country IQ % not believing in God Afghanistan 84 0.5 Albania 90 8 Algeria 83 0.5 Angola 68 1.5 Argentina 93 4 Armenia 94 14 Australia 98 25 Austria 100 18 Azerbaijan 87 0.5 Bangladesh 82 0.5 Belarus 97 17 Belgium 99 43 Benin 70 0.5 Bolivia 87 1 Botswana 70 0.5 Brazil 87 1 Brunei 91 0.5 Bulgaria 93 34 Burkina Faso 68 0.5 Burundi 69 0.5 Cambodia 91 7 Cameroon 64 0.5 Canada 99 22 Central African Rep. 64 1.5 Chad 68 0.5 Chile 90 2 China 105 12 Colombia 84 1 Congo: Rep of (Brazz) 64 2.7 Costa Rica 89 1 Cote d’Ivoire 69 0.5 Croatia 90 7 Cuba 85 40 Czech Republic 98 61 Denmark 98 48 Dominican Republic 82 7 Ecuador 88 1 Egypt 81 0.5 El Salvador 80 1 Estonia 99 49 Ethiopia 64 0.5 Finland 99 28 France 98 44 Gambia 66 0.5 Georgia 94 4 Germany 99 42 Ghana 71 0.5 Greece 92 16 Guatemala 79 1 Guinea 67 0.5 Haiti 67 0.5 Honduras 81 1 Hungary 98 32 Iceland 101 16 India 82 3 Indonesia 87 1.5 Iran 84 4.5 Iraq 87 0.5 Ireland 92 5 Israel 95 15 Italy 102 6 Jamaica 71 3 Japan 105 65 Jordan 84 0.5 Kazakhstan 94 12 Kenya 72 0.5 Kuwait 86 0.5 Kyrgyzstan 90 7 Laos 89 5 Latvia 98 20 Lebanon 82 3 Liberia 67 0.5 Libya 83 0.5 Lithuania 91 13 Madagascar 82 0.5 Malawi 69 0.5 Malaysia 92 0.5 Mali 69 0.5 Mauritania 76 0.5 Mexico 88 4.5 Moldova 96 6 Mongolia 101 20 Morocco 84 0.5 Mozambique 64 5 Namibia 70 4 Nepal 78 0.5 Netherlands 100 42 New Zealand 99 22 Nicaragua 81 1 Niger 69 0.5 Nigeria 69 0.5 Norway 100 31 Oman 83 0.5 Pakistan 84 0.5 Panama 84 1 Paraguay 84 1 Peru 85 1 Philippines 86 0.5 Poland 99 3 Portugal 95 4 Romania 94 4 Russia 97 27 Rwanda 70 0.5 Saudi Arabia 84 0.5 Senegal 66 0.5 Sierra Leone 64 0.5 Singapore 108 13 Slovakia 96 17 Slovenia 96 35 Somalia 68 0.5 South Africa 72 1 South Korea 106 30 Spain 98 15 Sri Lanka 79 0.5 Sweden 99 64 Switzerland 101 17 Syria 83 0.5 Taiwan 105 24 Tajikistan 87 2 Tanzania 72 0.5 Thailand 91 0.5 Togo 70 0.5 Trinidad and Tobago 85 9 Tunisia 83 0.5 Turkmenistan 87 2 Uganda 73 0.5 Ukraine 97 20 United Arab Emirates 84 0.5 United Kingdom 100 41.5 United States 98 10.5 Uruguay 96 12 Uzbekistan 87 4 Venezuela 84 1 Vietnam 94 81 Yemen 85 0.5 Zambia 71 0.5 Zimbabwe 66 4
JERUSALEM (AP) â€” The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed “Mexican” influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday.
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and “we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu,” he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel.
Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.
Scientists are unsure where the new swine flu virus originally emerged, though it was identifed first in the United States. They say there is nothing about the virus that makes it “Mexican” and worry such a label would be stigmatizing.
Two Israelis who recently visited Mexico have been hospitalized with symptoms of the flu. Health authorities have not yet confirmed whether they actually have the virus.
The current strain of swine flu is thought to have originated in Mexico where more than 100 people have been killed by the disease so far.
Laboratories in the U.S. and Canada have confirmed that of the samples tested so far, the swine flu virus in Mexico and U.S. appear to be the same.
This article isn’t new (it’s from 2002), but… damn.
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.
In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful “mutaween” police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.
About 800 pupils were inside the school in the holy city of Mecca when the tragedy occurred.
According to the al-Eqtisadiah daily, firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam.
One witness said he saw three policemen “beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya”.
The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police – known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned “it is a sinful to approach them”.
The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out.
“Lives could have been saved had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” the newspaper concluded.
Families of the victims have been incensed over the deaths.
Most of the victims were crushed in a stampede as they tried to flee the blaze.
The school was locked at the time of the fire – a usual practice to ensure full segregation of the sexes.
The religious police are widely feared in Saudi Arabia. They roam the streets enforcing dress codes and sex segregation, and ensuring prayers are performed on time.
Those who refuse to obey their orders are often beaten and sometimes put in jail.
I think I just shed the worlds smallest tear..
Frequent television portrayals of Christians as absurd make it more difficult for believers to defend themselves, a national journalist has said.
Recent storylines in a number of soaps have sent the clear message that â€œChristians are nuttersâ€, the Daily Telegraphâ€™s religion correspondent, Jonathan Wynne-Jones, wrote last week on his blog.
Christians should expect robust criticism, Mr Wynne-Jones said, but as faith is made to look more ridiculous â€œthe line between ridicule and persecution becomes even thinnerâ€.
Mr Wynne-Jones wrote on his blog: â€œSome would argue that Christianity has been undermined for some time on television.â€
He continues: â€œEven some of the BBCâ€™s religious documentaries have tended to challenge traditional beliefs, from claiming Mary was raped by a Roman soldier to arguing that Paulâ€™s conversion on the road to Damascus was caused by an epileptic fit.â€
Earlier this week it emerged that dozens of viewers complained to the television regulator after an Easter Sunday episode of Coronation Street featured a string of outbursts against Christianity.
The character Ken Barlow described the Christian faith as a â€œsuperstitionâ€, accusing churches of targeting â€œvulnerable peopleâ€ and â€œindoctrinatingâ€ his grandson.
Mr Wynne-Jones also referred to Hollyoaks, a soap hugely popular with teenagers, where the â€˜Christianâ€™ in the show claims to have found an image of Jesus in a potato.
â€œOutspoken criticism of Christian beliefs should be expected, but the stealthy attempts to make believers look absurd is much more damaging,â€ Mr Wynne-Jones said.
â€œOnce faith has been made to look ridiculous, the attempts of believers to rebut the criticism will be met with deaf ears. And then the line between ridicule and persecution becomes even thinner.â€
It emerged earlier this month that the producers of Coronation Street are planning to portray a â€˜born-again Christianâ€™ character embarking on a lesbian affair in a bid to make the soap more reflective of modern Britain.
The BBC received 150 complaints about an episode of Eastenders shown in October last year, in which â€˜Christianâ€™ character Dot Cotton was made to look old fashioned and ridiculous in her beliefs on homosexuality.
She was shown getting to grips with an mp3 player before coming across two men kissing on a park bench and asking them to stop. The two male characters sniggered at her efforts to engage with modern technology.
Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, admitted last year that he believes Christianity should be treated with less sensitivity in television programmes than other religions.
Afghan women protesting against a new law that severely undermines women’s rights were pelted with stones in the country’s capital Wednesday, say reports.
About 300 mostly young women gathered in Kabul to show their opposition to a recently passed law that forbids women from refusing to have sex with their husbands and requires them to get a male relative’s permission to leave the house.
The demonstration, organized by women’s rights activists in the country, occurred in front of a Shia mosque recently built by a cleric who helped craft the law. Critics of the law say it effectively legalizes rape within marriage and is a return to Taliban-style rule.
About 1,000 people opposed to the protest surrounded the women and threw gravel and small stones as police struggled to hold them back. The group of counter-protesters included both men and women.
Some shouted “Death to the slaves of the Christians.”
“You are a dog. You are not a Shia woman,” one man shouted to a young woman in a headscarf holding aloft a banner that said, “We don’t want Taliban law.”
There were no reports of injuries.
Sima Ghani, a women’s rights activist, said everyone at the protest is united against the law.
“No matter what religion we belong to, what sect we follow, we all stand against this law and want a reform of the law,” she said.
Jeremy Starkey, a reporter with The Independent newspaper who was at the demonstration, said he saw men pelt the women with stones.
“I saw the men surging forward on a number of occasions,” he said.
“Female afghan police officers joined hands to form a human chain around the women to try to protect them.”
The law, which applies only to the minority Shia community, received widespread international condemnation.
The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the law will be reviewed and won’t be implemented in its current form.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, said earlier this month Afghan officials had assured him they would delete “contentious clauses” from the legislation.
The Afghan constitution guarantees equal rights for women, but also allows the Shia to have separate family law based on religious tradition.
A blogger critical of First Baptist Church Pastor Mac Brunson wants to know why his Web site was investigated by a police detective who is also a member of the ministerâ€™s security detail.
Thomas A. Rich also wants the Jacksonville Sheriffâ€™s Office to explain what suspected crimes led Detective Robert Hinson to open the probe into his once-anonymous Web site.
Rich also wants to know why Hinson revealed his name to the church despite finding no wrongdoing. Hinson obtained a subpoena from the State Attorneyâ€™s Office requiring Google Inc. to reveal the author of the blog.
Richâ€™s unmasking led to an eventual trespass warning banning the longtime member and his wife from First Baptist, despite the fact that Brunson and a top church administrator conceded the blog never threatened violence.
Rich said he mailed a complaint against Hinson to the Sheriffâ€™s Office on Tuesday. It had not been received as of Wednesday afternoon.
The intelligence detectiveÂ opened the criminal investigation Sept. 29Â into the identity and â€œpossible criminal overtonesâ€ of the blog, fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com.
The Sheriffâ€™s Office and church officials defended the complaint and investigation into Richâ€™s blog, which Hinson concluded Nov. 13.
Undersheriff Frank Mackesy said Hinsonâ€™s role posed no conflict of interest because his duties include handling possible threats against the cityâ€™s large religious institutions.
Rich said he was never contacted by Hinson. He learned of the investigation well after the church notified him Nov. 28 he had been identified as the blogâ€™s author.
Two additional bloggers investigated by Hinson said they were also not contacted. They learned of the probe in middle or late March. Their blogs do not focus on First Baptist.
Mackesy said the three bloggers didnâ€™t need to be contacted because Hinson uncovered nothing criminal.
â€œThe detective hasnâ€™t done anything wrong,â€ he said.
It was also proper for Hinson to provide First Baptistâ€™s leadership with Richâ€™s identity despite finding no criminal evidence, Mackesy said, so it could take whatever internal action it felt necessary for its own safety.
â€œIâ€™d be disappointed in the detective if [he] didnâ€™t do it,â€ he said.
The Rev. John Blount,Â executive pastor of administration, said he contacted Hinson directly regarding increased â€œvitriolâ€ on the blog about the same time mail was stolen from the Brunson home and someone was surreptitiously photographing Brunsonâ€™s wife. Also, someone had contacted vendors lined up for the churchâ€™s annual pastorsâ€™ conference and made critical remarks about Brunson to them, Blount said.
â€œWe became concerned enough to ask law enforcement, ‘Is there the ability to find out where this is coming from?â€™Â â€ Blount said.
Police reports were not filed about the mail and photos, Blount said. The Sept. 29 police report launching the investigation quotes Blount telling police only about â€œan ongoing Internet incident that has possible criminal overtones.â€
At no time was the blogger accused of being behind the other incidents, Blount said.
Rich said he never stole mail, photographed Brunsonâ€™s wife or contacted vendors. Rich said he wonders if those issues were raised simply to obtain a subpoena to uncover the identity of a blogger critical of Brunson.
That was not the case, Blount said. In an age of church shootings and other violence, he said, they simply wanted to determine if any of the events were related.
Brunson said police have interviewed him about the photos and stolen mail. He refused to elaborate.
Rich said he launched his blog in August 2007 â€” more than a year after Brunson became the pastor â€” because he was alarmed by what he described as Brunsonâ€™s â€œabusive preaching,â€Â Â especially during fund-raising campaigns.
The blog has included criticisms of Brunsonâ€™s $300,000 salary, his plan to open a church school, his construction of a â€œlavishâ€ office suite, accepting a $307,000 land gift from church members for his home and putting his wife on the payroll.
Brunson declined to discuss his home and salary but maintained he is one of the lowest-paid mega-church pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention. He said people are welcome to criticize his preaching style and ministry goals, including the school, but usually do so openly, not anonymously.
Richâ€™s letter from the church cited his anonymity and sharp criticism as â€œa violation of Scriptureâ€ and church bylaws. He said the trespass warning came after he refused to appear before a discipline committee without a representative.
But Brunson said Richâ€™s persistent criticism over nearly two years indicates the writer has an â€œobsessive compulsive problemâ€ and is â€œnot very stable at all,â€ Brunson said.
â€œWhat youâ€™re dealing with is a sociopath,â€ Brunson said.
â€œThe imbalance is him refusing to address the concerns of his congregation,â€ Rich said of Brunsonâ€™s comments. Rich said his blog gets about 1,000Â hits a day and that he regularly hears from people who agree with his criticisms but are afraid to come forward.
â€œHeâ€™s been trying to convince his administration that I am some kind of a nut,â€ he said. â€œI am not a nut â€¦ and the things I have raised on the blog are valid concerns.â€
Blount said he had no idea why Hinson looked into two other blogs, tiffanycroft.blogspot.comÂ and newbbcopenforum.blogspot.com.
Mackesy would say only that Hinson was obligated to look at those blogs if he felt it could help the initial investigation.
Jacksonville resident Tiffany Croft said the aim of her blog is to be an online source of information about the accusations against the Rev. Darrell Gilyard,Â the former Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist ChurchÂ pastor accused of sexual misconduct. Gilyard regularly preached at First Baptist in the early 1990s.
Croft said she also plans to file a complaint against Hinson demanding to know why her blog â€” which has never been anonymous â€” was the target of a subpoena to Google.
The Times-Union doesnâ€™t know the identity of the third blogger, critical of Bellevue Baptist ChurchÂ in Memphis.
The subpoena requests that Hinson submitted to the State Attorneyâ€™s Office may have listed the criminal activity the detective wanted to investigate, but those documents were destroyed after 90 days, according to the policy at the time, said Assistant State Attorney Stephen Siegel , who signed the subpoena. The actual subpoenas do not cite a reason for the request.
Rich said he will hire an attorney if necessary to get more information from the church and Sheriffâ€™s Office and to clear his name.
â€œItâ€™s hardball,â€ Rich said of the churchâ€™s tactics in uncovering his identity. â€œItâ€™s hardball religion, is what it is.â€
The police booking photo of alleged child killer Nour Hadid released Tuesday is an “insult against our religion,” says Hadid’s husband, Alaeddin.
Orland Park police detectives say the 26-year-old Muslim woman was treated as any other suspect in a murder probe would be, and they did not intend to humiliate her when they photographed her Sunday without her headscarf and wearing only a skimpy top.
Nour Hadid is accused of beating her 2-year-old niece Bhia Hadid to death over four days at her home on the 9000 block of West 140th Street. The child had 55 separate bruises and was beaten “from head to toe,” according to prosecutors, who say Hadid confessed.
But Alaeddin Hadid – who insists his wife is innocent – said Orland Park police are “really going to be in big trouble” for releasing the woman’s booking photo to the news media after she was charged with first-degree murder.
The Hadids are Muslims and Nour “never leaves the home without covering up,” said Alaeddin, who’s vowed to sue.
By custom, some practicing Muslim women wear the hijab, or headscarf, and cover their arms and legs when in public.
In the mug shot, a bare-headed and obviously emotional Nour appears to be protecting her modesty with her hands.
“It is against our religion; we do not do this in our culture,” Alaeddin said.
“People have been calling me about this all day.”
Bhia Hadid’s funeral took place Thursday.
Orland Park police Cmdr. Chuck Doll said the mug shot was taken “for identification purposes” before Hadid made her confession. Her headscarf was handed back to her after the photo was taken, Doll said.
“A matron was with her at all times while she was in our custody,” Doll said. A matron is a law enforcement official who works with women held in custody. “She was wearing a tank top, and she had the headscarf when she was interviewed.”
The headscarf later was taken from her after she made suicide threats, he said.
A sobbing Hadid appeared without the headscarf at the Bridgeview courthouse Tuesday and is being held without bail at the Cermak Medical Center at the Cook County Jail, where she remains on suicide watch.
Police have said her husband’s possible involvement in Bhia’s death still is under investigation.
Nour Hadid’s attorney, Frank Celani, said he hopes to speak with her today about the mug shot.
Respecting the accused
Islamic advocacy groups seem wary of taking up Hadid’s cause.
Spokesmen for the Council on Islamic American Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation all declined to comment Thursday.
But Dr. Mohammed Sahloul, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Chicago, said that while police should follow the usual procedures with all defendants, “they should respect the modesty of the accused.”
Sahloul, who made it clear he was not aware of the Hadid case and was speaking in general terms about the hijab, pointed out that Muslim women are allowed to wear hijabs in photos for their state IDs.
“If it’s for the purposes of identification and they cover in public, then that’s going to be more effective in identifying them anyway,” he said.
Former chairman Kareem Irfan said, “It’s particularly humiliating because she appears to be in her underwear.
“I don’t condone what she’s alleged to have done.
“But if it was a nun accused of these crimes, would they treat her the same way?”
This is why religion is harmful.