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Friday, April 4, 2008

No belief in prison

Vox Day, writer of the excellent book The Irrational Atheist demonstrated that the atheistic claim that atheists are more law abiding than the religious was pure hokum. He acknowledged that whilst self identified atheists were not common in prison, those professing no religion, the numbers that the atheists rely on to bulk up their numbers in the face of religious out-numbering, were in fact far more numerous than they should be as a proportion of the population.

To test this myself I contacted the New Zealand corrections department and asked if they kept records of inmate's religious beliefs. I found that they did indeed and the statistics made interesting reading.

The statistics I received showed that out of a prison population of 8073 in June 2007, 3852 professed no religion and another 1984 gave no answer.
Even if only the smaller number is used almost 48% of the prison population could be described as atheists. In a country where the majority identify as Christian that is a disproportionate number.
According to Statistics New Zealand as of 2006 about 35% of New Zealanders identified themselves as having no religion.
Religion: No. of Prisoners
ADVENTIST (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 3
ANANDA MARGA: 2
ANGLICAN: 167
APOSTOLIC CHURCH OF NEW ZEALAND: 8
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD: 12
ASSOCIATED CHURCHES OF CHRIST: 3
ASSYRIAN ORTHODOX: 1
BAHA'I: 2
BAPTIST (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 33
BIBLE BAPTIST: 2
BRAHMA KUMARIS: 1
BRETHREN (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 3
BUDDHIST (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 42
CATHOLIC (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 331
CHINESE CHRISTIAN (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 2
CHRISTIAN (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 575
CHRISTIAN AND MISSIONARY ALLIANCE: 2
CHRISTIAN OUTREACH: 2
CHRISTIAN REVIVAL CRUSADE: 1
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: 2
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS: 164
CHURCHES OF CHRIST (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 10
CONGREGATIONAL: 27
DRUSE: 2
ELIM: 1
EVANGELICAL (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 5
GREEK ORTHODOX: 1
HARE KRISHNA: 1
HINDU (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 21
ISLAM (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 70
JAPANESE BUDDHIST: 3
JAPANESE RELIGION (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 1
JEHOVAH'S WITNESS: 39
JUDAISM (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 8
KOREAN CHRISTIAN (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 1
LODGE: 1
LUTHERAN: 2
MAHIKARI: 1
MAORI CHRISTIAN (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 24
MAORI RELIGION (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 17
MARONITE CATHOLIC: 1
METHODIST: 64
NEW LIFE CENTRES: 1
NO RELIGION: 3852
NOT SPECIFIED: 274
NULL (no response entered): 1984
ORTHODOX: 1
OTHER INDIGENOUS CHRISTIAN: 7
OTHER NEW AGE RELIGIONS (NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSIFIED): 1
OTHER RELIGIONS (NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSIFIED): 8
PENTECOSTAL (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 15
PRESBYTERIAN: 94
PROTESTANT (NOT FURTHER DEFINED): 6
RASTAFARIANISM: 3
RATANA: 217
REC CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST - LATTER DAY SAINTS: 4
RELIGION NOT KNOWN: 4
RELIGION UNIDENTIFIABLE: 9
RINGATU: 31
ROMAN CATHOLIC (LATIN RITE): 171
SALVATION ARMY: 17
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST: 30
SHIA: 5
SIKH: 3
SPIRITUALISM: 1
SUFI: 2
SUNI: 9
SWEDENBORGIAN (NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH): 1
THERAVADA BUDDHIST: 2
UNITED PENTECOSTAL: 4
ZEN BUDDHIST: 5
TOTAL: 8419
Muster as at report date (4 June 2007): 8073
Number of prisoners who named more than one religion: 346

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesteing. I live in Sweden and have been raised with the idea that atehism and secularism is superior in areas such as non-violence, science, discrimination, environmentalism and many other areas. I guess its a natural in a pseudo-socialist country. I have read the TIA and now i read this from New Zealand.

One wonders what would happen if the atheist hegemony in so many western countries where broken? By hegemoný I mean that the people who has a voice, the prospect to speak up and be heard, has for long always spoken for materialism and against religion (especially christianity).

Duke of Earl said...

The powers that be would resist. The Police and the Military are in their pocket after all.

Socialist states of any stripe are totalitarian, according to Vox the word had to be invented to describe them.

However we would overcome at the last, to borrow a phrase "the Church is an anvil that has worn out many hammers." According to what I've read Diocletian, the last great persecutor of the Church till modern days, on his deathbed raised his fist to heaven and cried out "Nazerene, thou hast conquered." Perhaps this is a legend, but it sums up the situation. We individually might not survive though.

Anonymous said...

Pardon my intrusiveness, sir, but may I ask if the New Zealand corrections department keeps this data public? While I assume you're telling the truth, I suspect most atheists would be quick to accuse me of relying on fabricated data if I directed them to this study, so I am wondering if they have an official website or anything which would back this data up. Sorry for the intrusion, and thanks very much for your time.

Duke of Earl said...

http://www.corrections.govt.nz/public/index.html

Though they have a lot of information under research, in order to get this particular information you'd have to email them directly like I did.

derp said...

Thanks! I really appreciate it, thanks for your time.

Duke of Earl said...

No problem.

scott gray said...

jason--

interesting data. how do you interpret it? what conclusions do you reach from it? how would you further look for information/data to support or refute your conclusions? this might make an interesting sociological study-- the correlation between religious affiliation and prison population.

scott (followed you here from pen and parchment and our cpnfessional/critical data discussion.)

Duke of Earl said...

Sorry Scott, I guess this is a little late.

It's a similar conclusion to what Vox found in the study of Welsh prisons.

The inference I'd draw from it is that when the only source of ones moral principles is oneself, it becomes very easy to rationalise the kind of behaviour that lands you in prison. =)