According to a researcher from the University of Manchester, mality does not have roots in religion and religion has less influence on moral values compared to 30 years ago. Based on European survey data, Dr. Ingrid Storm showed that a decline in religion does not equate to a decline in morality.
In a study published in the journal Politics and Religion, Storm said that involvement in religion had more impact on morality the more religious a country is. It also affects moral values less now compared to how it did in the 1980s.
Religion had been declining sharply in a lot of European countries, with every new generation growing less and less religious than the one before them. This made Storm wonder if religious decline would also lead to moral decline, providing the foundations for the study.
Aside from finding that religion is only associated with some moral values, she also discovered that this is most obvious in religious countries and in places where a distrust of the government is rampant.
For the study, Storm used data from the European Values Study held four times between 1981 to 2008. The respondents were analyzed based on what secularization means for them.
Based on her findings, Storm found that more Europeans are beginning to find it acceptable to go against tradition but attitudes have remained steadfast when it came to breaking the law or when others are put into jeopardy.
Specifically, more people are becoming accepting of the increasingly liberal stances on family and sexuality. Storm also didn't find evidence that moral values cause anti-social or behaviors showing self-interest.
The study found that those who are religious are generally less self-interested. However, this may also be caused by the respondents' age. The average religious person is older compared to the average nonreligious person, while older people, regardless of when they were born, didn't have the tendency to justify values related to self-interest.
"To be effective, religious norms need to be validated by a moral community of other religious friends and family and social and political institutions," said Storm.
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