Paul ranked societies based on the percentage of their population expressing absolute belief in God, the frequency of prayer reported by their citizens and their frequency of attendance at religious services. He then correlated this with data on rates of homicide, sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, abortion and child mortality.
He found that the most religious democracies exhibited substantially higher degrees of social dysfunction than societies with larger percentages of atheists and agnostics. Of the nations studied, the U.S. â€” which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) â€” also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
This conclusion will come as no surprise to those who have long gnashed their teeth in frustration while listening to right-wing evangelical claims that secular liberals are weak on "values." Paul's study confirms globally what is already evident in the U.S.: When it comes to "values," if you look at facts rather than mere rhetoric, the substantially more secular blue states routinely leave the Bible Belt red states in the dust.