Despite what their Christian mommies may think, little Nevaeh and tiny Jacob are generally more selfish and judgmental than their non-religious counterparts.

Some might argue that most children are mean and selfish by nature, yet when it comes to a recent study in Current Biology, it has been determined that children who live in a religious family and adhere to some type of religious belief are significantly less generous and more judgmental than their non-religious peers.

This flies in the face of what our society seems to believe about the benefits of religion and its inclination to demonize atheism. A political candidate is required to spout endless “God bless America’s” if they want even a chance at being elected, as if it is some sort of litmus test for trustworthiness and an ability to lead. It may not be a stretch to believe that the nature of a child will be extended to adulthood, and therefore one may assume that the selfishness indicated in this study may also indicate a general selfishness in religious adults.

More troubling than the results about selfishness is the results associated with punishment: “They also believe that interpersonal harm is more ‘mean’ and deserving of harsher punishment than non-religious children.” A lack of empathy is a dangerous thing for a population to have, and clearly religion is in direct conflict with a sense of forgiveness and context.

Check out the full study from Current Biology  “The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World.”


Sydney Robinson is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. She has also appeared in political news videos for Ring of Fire. Sydney has a degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and has an active interest in politics, social justice, and environmental issues. She would love to hear from you on Twitter @SydneyMkay or via email at