I was the Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. This was while being a professor of economics and NDSU. Later I became active in the Red River Freethinkers. While I no longer live in Fargo-Moorhead the focus of my blog remains there.


Age Old Question: Does Religion Cause Violence


News reports on school shootings almost always mention or imply something about the shooter's history in religion. A new study tried to answer definitively whether religious people are more or less prone to violence than the non religious. A review noted none of the many times this issue has been studied was the most relevant question asked.
An article that studied all available published studies about the relationship between violence and religion showed there was no clear cut conclusion. Some showed church attendance reduced the inclination toward violence. Others the opposite. The latter are well known, the Crusades and Muslim attackers.
The entire question is wrapped up in group identity as well. Religious people who live in a circle of people that are prone to violence follow the group's thinking. The same for non religious people. This, in turn, is influenced by the group's history and culture. Religion comes out of these backgrounds.
Then, there is the question of what indicates a person is religious or not religious. Usually, the question asked is the frequency of church attendance. Perhaps church attendance can tell us how well a person identifies with the group going to the church but I'm not sure it tells what the person thinks about the faith.
An important question is, "What is a religion?" Commonly, religion is defined as belief is something called, "supernatural." 
Apparently, investigators or the press ever ask a suspect if he believes in some kind of supernatural being or force. If we knew the suspect's inner mind on the supernatural we could more accurately judge the role of religion in these crimes.

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