No Time For Crime: Study Finds More Religious Communities Have Lower Rates Of Black, White and Latino Violence

Posted on Dec 4 2013 - 11:03pm by David Briggs

Can religion aid lower violent crime?

Some hot analysis suggests the answer is yes, both by creating a moral climate that fosters regard among friends and by helping to shape individual consciences of young adults.

Violent crime decreased as better numbers of individuals were religiously active in a community, according to a research analyzing crime and religion information from 182 counties in 3 states.

The impact was very pronounced in black violence in disadvantaged communities that are probably to have the highest amount of victims.

“In the big pic, religious presence appears to matter to the amount of violence and crime in a community,” claims Jeffery Ulmer, a professor of sociology and crime, law and justice at Pennsylvania State University who led the county-level research. “It issues to blacks, whites and Latinos.”

Simply don’t anticipate young people that are among the growing numbers of individuals who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” to have the same moral inhibitions.

A separate Baylor University research of over 15,000 individuals ages 18 to 28 found that while young adults who considered themselves religious were less probably than others to commit violent or property offences, those who said to be spiritual but set apart from organized religion were more probably to engage in both kinds of criminal activity.

Building social capital

Faith can be the most individual regions in the lives of people, but it will moreover collectively exert moral influence over a community, scholars state.

As a crime stopper, belief could be very efficient in setting moral norms, building social ties and investing communities with a sense of meaning and purpose, counteracting the “moral cynicism” and individualism that may foster criminal behavior, experts Ulmer and Casey Harris of the University of Arkansas note in the newest problem of The Sociological Quarterly.

Ulmer and Harris explored “Race and the Religious Contexts of Violence” in their research. They analyzed information within the U.S. Census, the Religious Congregations and Membership Study and crime reports from almost 200 counties in New York California and Texas. The counties had significant numbers of black, white and Latino citizens.

What they found wasn’t just evidence that religion might exert a defensive influence discouraging violent crime, but that there are equally racial-ethnic variations in the part of belief communities.

Consider these findings:

• Black and white violence decreased greatly as the percentage rose of county citizens who belonged to congregations or were normal attenders.
• Black and Latino violence was lower in communities where citizens belonged to synonymous kinds of religious organizations, indicating belief groups from synonymous traditions were capable to exert better influence on community values when they had a noticeable presence.
• Religious homogeneity wasn’t associated with total rates of white violence, but further breakdowns showed communities with bigger percentages of evangelicals had lower rates of white violence. Latino violence was greatly reduced in communities with big numbers of active Catholics.
• Black violence dipped dramatically in counties with excellent degrees of poverty, unemployment and low degrees of knowledge where big percentages of citizens were active in congregations. This really is a key finding, as communities with serious social and financial disadvantages are more probably to have significant violent crime rates.

The results recommend that religious groups have the ability to cultivate moral attitudes “that counteract the code of the streets,” Ulmer claims.

Building moral codes

But what about the impact of belief found on the individual level?

Baylor experts Sung Joon Jang and Aaron Franzen analyzed information within the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to analyze variations in crime rates among young adults in 4 categories:

• Religious and spiritual.
• Spiritual but not religious.
• Religious but not spiritual
• Neither religious nor spiritual.

Individuals who identified themselves as “religious” were less probably to be offenders.

But, people who were “spiritual but not religious” were more prone to commit violent crime than their “religious and spiritual” counterparts and more probably to commit property crime than emerging adults who were “religious” or “neither religious nor spiritual.”

“Is being ‘spiritual’ enough to lower criminal propensity without additionally being religious? Our research suggests the answer is not any – at least during emerging adulthood,” Jang and Franzen write in a recent problem of the log Criminology.

What both research additionally recommend is the fact that the character of religion ought to be considered as communities address issues of violent crime.

Communities lose out when they marginalize or trivialize the potential pro-social affects of religion, Jang claims.

“And among the regions where society suffers is in crime,” he claims

David Briggs writes the Ahead of the Trend column for the Association of Religion Data Archives.

This article originally appeared at Religion - The Huffington Post