This article from the UK (originally published in September, '05) uses statistical evidence compiled from several sources to study whether what evangelical Christians are claiming is actually true -- that religion and the worhipping of deities in general, and a monotheistic God with a son named Jesus, in particular -- are the only things standing between mankind and all-out, Helter-Skelter-like pandimonium.
The results were mind-boggling even for those of us who suspected the truth.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, not only does this turn out to be untrue, it turns out to be the opposite of the truth. In countries which maintain a degree of secularism, crime rates, suicide rates, abortion rates and the rate of infection of STDs is markedly lower. The more secular a given nation was, in fact, the lower their cases of the above maladies.
Additionally, the study's author Gregory Paul found that the United States is the only advanced democracy where murder rates, though on the downslide, are still very high, particularly in comparison to the rates in countries like the UK, France and Japan, which have all the same technology that we do and a fraction of the murder rate.
So, it would seem that the presence of religion in a society is not only not helpful, but is actually harmful. It's devisive and preachy and self-righteous and self-absorbed. It's suppressive and repressive and unhealthy and more than a little seditious. It makes people believe things that are not true, and puts them in the paths of unscrupulous snake oil salesmen to boot.
One of these days, I'm going to have to move myself to one of them secular countries, just to see what it feels like living in a place where people are halfway sane.