Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Christian Fundamentalism linked to Domestic Violence

Here's something disturbing, but not exactly surprising. It seems that the most "evangelical" Christians are also the most likely to beat their wives and children.

In an interesting new study (PDF) by Jerome R. Koch and Ignacio Luis Ramirez of Texas Tech University, they discovered that domestic violence and evangelical beliefs are strongly linked.

It's interesting that religiosity (the strength of one's beliefs) in general is not part of this equation. People with very strong faith are no more (or less) likely to be violent than people with mild faith or no faith at all. It's quite specifically the degree of evangelicalism – the belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and contains no errors whatsoever – that predicts domestic violence.

I guess I'm not surprised by this. To believe that the Bible has no errors you have to completely shut your mind off. The Bible is full of errors, all glaringly obvious for anyone to see. Anyone who can accept the evangelical interpretation of Christianity is not someone who can make rational judgements about morality. They've accepted the Biblical stories of their God's cruelty, genocide, infanticide and petulance as true stories rather than parables and lessons.

To decide their subject's degree of evangelicism, Koch and Ramirez used this standard set of questions:
Christian Fundamentalism (“Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.”)
  1. I am sure the Bible contains no errors or contradictions.
  2. It is very important for true Christians to believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.
  3. The Bible is the final and complete guide to morality; it contains God’s answers to all important questions about right and wrong.
  4. Christians should not let themselves be influenced by worldly ideas.
  5. Christians must try hard to know and defend the true teachings of God’s word.
  6. The best education for a Christian child is in a Christian school with Christian teachers.
Koch and Ramirez are careful not to imply a causal link – this is just a correlation they've discovered, and as real scientists, they don't mistake a correlation for a cause-and-effect relationship. It may be that evangelicism begets violence, or violence begets evangelicism, or that there's some other factor that causes both.

As for me, I suspect that evangelical beliefs are associated with unquestioned authority, the idea that one person has absolute authority and can't be questioned, ever. And people, particularly men, transfer this idea to themselves and believe that they have a right to rule over their families just as God rules over his.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't leave open mouthed or gob-smacked with surprise. I'm just surprised it took this long to see a correlation in the first place.


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