A new book by criminologist Byron Johnson argues that there’s enough statistical evidence out there for social scientists to say with confidence that religiosity lowers crime. He also argues that secular bias among social scientists, more often than not, leads them to dismiss this finding.
The book, More God, Less Crime: Why Faith Matters and How It Could Matter More, isn’t going to surprise any Christians, I suspect. Most of us have encountered a fair amount of anecdotal evidence concerning the deterrent faith provides to antisocial behavior. But what Johnson has done here is to analyze literally hundreds of studies that collectively provide a strong objective case for this phenomenon.
Johnson is a professor at Baylor, where he ended up after a state university summarily fired him for writing about religion in a serious way. Get a load of this story he tells about the incident (as summarized by a reviewer in the Wall Street Journal):
When he was a young scholar at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in the mid-1980s, Mr. Johnson was told by his department chairman that none of his articles involving religion would count toward getting tenure. Though Mr. Johnson began publishing articles in academic journals about subjects other than religion, two years later he was fired. In his appeal to the dean, Mr. Johnson mentioned his publications and high student evaluations. The dean replied: “I don’t need to have a reason,” adding: “I can let you go if I don’t like the color of your eyes.”
With three small children at home, Mr. Johnson was desperate to save his job. He appealed to the provost, who told him: “You simply don’t fit in here. I think you need to consider getting a job teaching at some small Christian college.” The provost added, according to Mr. Johnson, that he would have “the same problem” at any other state university. Mr. Johnson then said to the provost: “If I were a Marxist we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, would we?” The provost “nodded in agreement.”
Behold the tolerance of the academic establishment!
If you want to find out more about Johnson’s research, you can listen to an interview he did last summer with Tony Gill for the Research on Religion podcast.