By Adam Lee
The quiet truth behind the inescapable headlines about man’s inhumanity to man is that the world is actually becoming a more peaceful place. Deaths from war and conflict have been declining for decades – and, if current trends continue, we can make them rarer still.
What mysterious force is sowing peace among humankind? One possible reason is that there are more atheists and nonbelievers than ever before.
In America, millennials are the largest and least religious generation in the country’s history. The trend toward secularization in the US mirrors the movement in Europe and throughout the developed world. And poll after poll have shown that the nonreligious also lean more progressive and more pacifist on a wide variety of issues relating to violence: torture, the death penalty, corporal punishment, military adventurism and more.
A Pew poll from 2009, well before the Senate released its devastating torture report last month, asked whether torturing suspected terrorists could be justified found that the non-religious were most opposed to torture, with a combined 55% saying that it could rarely or never be justified. Gallup has also found that people with no religious preference are less supportive of the death penalty than any group of Christians. The non-religious are also among the most likely to say the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. The religiously unaffiliated are also less likely than Christians to believe that the US is superior to all other countries in the world, a hyper-patriotic attitude that’s hardly conducive to careful reflection about the use of American military power.
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