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Thread: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

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    New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    I was going to post this in the Religious Discussions forum until I read the 'sticky'
    This forum is dedicated and limited to discussions of religion, faith, and spirituality. Threads/posts critical of religion and spiritual aspects are not allowed here
    I don't know how one can discuss any complex subject without using some 'criticism' - so this topic is here

    New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    A provocative new study is challenging assumptions about the deterrent effect of religion on criminal behaviour. The U.S. study found that through “purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance,” hardcore criminals often co-opt religious doctrine to justify or further their crimes. The findings could have important implications, the researchers say, for how faith-based services are administered within the corrections system.

    Prison ministries shouldn’t just be about presenting religious doctrine because some inmates might take religious teachings to excuse their behaviour, lead author Volkan Topalli, a criminal justice professor at Georgia State University, said in an interview Monday. “People have to understand that presenting religious doctrine to people isn’t enough to change their behaviour,” he said. “(Faith-based services) have to be systematic and about behaviour change — religion has to be a vehicle, rather than the goal.”
    Here's a link to the abstract of the study
    With God on my side: The paradoxical relationship between religious belief and criminality among hardcore street offenders

    Research has found that many street offenders anticipate an early death, making them less prone to delay gratification, more likely to discount the future costs of crime, and thus more likely to offend. Ironically, many such offenders also hold strong religious convictions, including those related to the punitive afterlife consequences of offending. To reconcile these findings, we interviewed 48 active street offenders to determine their expectation of an early demise, belief in the afterlife, and notions of redemption and punishment. Despite the deterrent effects of religion that have been highlighted in prior research, our results indicate that religion may have a counterintuitive criminogenic effect in certain contexts. Through purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance, the hardcore offenders we interviewed are able to exploit the absolvitory tenets of religious doctrine, neutralizing their fear of death to not only allow but encourage offending. This suggests a number of intriguing consequences for deterrence theory and policy.
    The bolded part is one aspect that I think will require further study and is certainly something that we may 'enjoy' discussing.
    “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
    ~ James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    That assumes that the chosen religion accepts that good people can do bad things and still remain good people. Many religions include this premise, thus allowing the keeping all members (followers?) in good standing, you simply confess your "sins" and you are "saved" (to sin again?). This indeed seems to justify the unjustifiable, you are still a "good person" (and will be judged as such) even if you did very "bad things".
    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.
    Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    Religion, to me, seems like something that helps people express what's already inside of them in another way. In other words, I think religion rarely has a causal effect on behavior. I think people who want to help will use religion to do that and people who want to hurt will use religion to do that as well. This is probably because religious ideas and books can usually be interpreted in a thousand ways and they are rarely based in "objective" truth. As a result, it wouldn't surprise me if religion helped criminals continue their behavior.

    It's also unsurprising to me that religious doctrine helps people "neutralize their fear of death." In many cases, you're already dealing with people who both expect to die young and have no fear of death. Therefore, to then promise them eternal salvation in a place significantly better than their life on Earth encourages their unhealthy perspective on death.

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    Quote Originally Posted by ttwtt78640 View Post
    That assumes that the chosen religion accepts that good people can do bad things and still remain good people.
    No, it doesn't. It assumes that the "believers" perceive themselves as worthy of whatever payoff the religion promises them regardless of what the religion actually says or means.

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    The abstract is nebulous. There is nothing to discuss given that "religion" is a very broad statement. Is this about Quakers? Hasidic Jews? Tibetan Buddhists? Mormons? Greek Orthodox? Methodists?
    Last edited by Risky Thicket; 02-19-13 at 10:46 AM.










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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    I think it is still a deterrent, for example "Thou shalt not steal your neighbor's wife"

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    Hmmmm...Funny this part of the article....

    "hardcore criminals often co-opt religious doctrine to justify or further their crimes."

    reminds me of Black Liberation Theology.....I wonder why that is.....?
    Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

    Alexis de Tocqueville

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    Prison ministries just give inmates something to do to pass the time for the most part and a way for inmates waiting trial/parole hearings to try to make it look like they have turned over a new leaf. People gaming the system are not taking faith seriously so you cannot put it as a failure of faith when those same people re-offend.

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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher View Post
    Prison ministries just give inmates something to do to pass the time for the most part and a way for inmates waiting trial/parole hearings to try to make it look like they have turned over a new leaf. People gaming the system are not taking faith seriously so you cannot put it as a failure of faith when those same people re-offend.
    You got all that from the OP?










    "When Faith preaches Hate, Blessed are the Doubters." - Amin Maalouf

    When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that person is crazy. ~Dave Barry



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    Re: New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour

    Quote Originally Posted by RDS View Post
    I think it is still a deterrent, for example "Thou shalt not steal your neighbor's wife"
    It's only a deterrent if the person believes it. Even then, as pointed out, there are religious where you "confess your sins" and are saved again. Not much of a deterrent if you ask me.

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