Friday, January 19, 2018
Apartheid States of America
Are religions really supposed to teach higher morals or to enable different people from around the world to get along with each other?
If so, they don't seem to be doing a job at it, or at least not many of the highest profile ones, especially the biggest ones where the congregations are so large it must be much more difficult for people to get to know each other or their pastors.
A quick look at FBI statistics for violent crime including murder clearly indicates that some of the most religious areas, in the bible belt, are often at the top of the list for murder rates, and some of the most secular areas are at the bottom when it comes to murder rates. A closer look also indicates that some of the highest crime states also have the greatest inequality and more abandoned inner cities.
That's only if you compare regions within the United States; it gets even worse, or better depending on how you look at it when you look at a List of countries by intentional homicide rate. The reason this could make things much better is that we could figure out what other countries might be doing that enables them to get much lower crime and murder rates, especially in Europe, including some countries which are much less religious and have much lower murder and crime rates.
The United States has among the highest murder rates among the developed world with an average of about 5.4 on over the past fifteen years; it dropped to 4.5 in 2013 and 2014 before climbing back up to 5.3, almost as high as the average in 2016. Many third world countries have much higher rates; however they're often oppressed by violent undemocratic regimes, including many that are supported by the United States government. There is little or no effort to educate the public about these trends or the contributing causes, which includes, but isn't limited to religion, to the public so they can make public policy decisions to restore the downward trend, which has now been reversed.
One of the countries with the lowest murder rates in the world is Norway, which we could learn from whether a lot of them want to immigrate to the United States or not; and instead of worrying about whether or not they immigrate to the united States we could and should learn from the things that they might be doing right including providing child care for their people, and preventing child abuse including corporal punishment.
I went into this more in Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows and Does lack of education increase violent crime? Religion? in an earlier review that shows states still using corporal punishment in schools are much more likely to be in the top ten for murder rates along with additional evidence to show that it leads to escalating violence and that it is often supported for religious reasons. There was one possible exception to the evidence indicating that the most religious states are often the most violent, which is Utah, which is mostly Mormon and Gordon Hinkley, the former first president of the Mormon Church came out against corporal punishment, unlike Protestant or Catholic Churches, which also supports other evidence that corporal punishment leads to escalating violence.
A more recent follow up on that includes Media is aiding and abetting in Televangelist Fraud and Megalithic Churches correlated with local murder rates which shows that the murder rates are much higher, on average, in a large portion of the cities that have some of the biggest megachurches, or in many cases that they're just outside large dysfunctional cities with high murder rates, and that secular areas or areas that do a better job addressing social concerns like child care and education are much less likely to have high murder rates.
This corelation is even more extreme when you look at the international rates especially for States which have prohibited all corporal punishment that have much lower murder rates; and many of them also do a much better job providing child care and education, as well. Nineteen European countries along with New Zealand and Australia, and more countries in Asia, have murder rates that are less than one per hundred thousand people which is between one fifth and one tenth of the murder rates in the United States and fifteen of those twenty-one Caucasian countries have banned all use of corporal punishment. Except for Lithuania, which only banned corporal punishment last year all the European countries that have banned it have much lower rates than the United States, which adds to the evidence that corporal punishment teaches violence and leads to higher murder rates or lack of critical thinking skills, including questioning wars based on lies.
These European countries are also not involved in many of these wars based on lies which has much more support in religious areas; and additional evidence indicates that this is also a contributing factor to higher violence at home.
A closer look at the correlation between higher murder rates and megachurches also provides an enormous amount of evidence that might indicates economic apartheid as well, where one wealthier class of society makes all the decisions about the economy and has access to all the resources they need to develop properly while a poorer or middle class has much less say and less educational or child care opportunities resulting in much higher murder rates in the areas where they live in.
The vast majority of megachurches around the country are either in big cities that have abandoned ghettos or in the suburbs of these cities nearby, usually with lower murder rates, although there are some exceptions for that as well and even when their murder rates are lower than average in the United State the vast majority of them aren't as low as in the countries that do a better job providing better child care and education.
Some things should be incredibly easy to understand; if you have a choice between providing good child care and education or building large monuments, megachurches or other things that do little to help with the basic functions of society and you choose the monuments, megachurches or other things that might be considered "Graven Idols," somethings bound to go wrong. And the statistics clearly indicate that is exactly what has happened with dysfunctional cities with high murder rates, and additional research is virtually guaranteed to show evidence of more poverty, income inequality, lower health and lower quality of life.
Kind of like what might have happened when ancient civilizations built massive monuments that we consider so spectacular like the pyramids, Angkor temples, massive statues etc. They may seem spectacular; but the civilizations that built them all collapsed!
As I pointed out in the previous articles about this subject there are more megachurches in cities with above average murder rates, and if you add the suburbs, it's well over eighty percent; however at the state level it varies a little more, not surprisingly, to anyone that has spent time looking at statistics about sociology. Some of the states have more megachurches below average but when you count the suburbs, just outside more violent cities of those states the best of the are almost always over seventy percent. And, there are more Megachurches per capita in the ten states with the highest murder rates based on 2016 crime reports than the ten with the lowest murder rates; for megachurches with more than 10,000 people attending there are 3.5 churches in the top ten for every 1 in the bottom ten; and for all churches there are 2.4 in the top ten for every 1 in the bottom ten; however since the churches in the top ten are larger it would be even bigger difference based on total attendance rates, if I calculated it.
Like almost all social statistics, if someone was inclined to search for just those statistics that make religion look better there are a few opportunities; however they don't seem to be in the states with the largest volume. Instead they're in the states with the lowest volume that also happen to be in the bottom ten, although I haven't checked the majority of those in the middle except Texas. Connecticut has only eight and all of them are below average for the nation and only one above average for the state; but they're all just outside of their two biggest cities with much higher crime rates, two and a half to four times the national average. The only two in North Dakota are both in Fargo which is slightly below average for the state and a fraction of the national rate.
The correlation in the states with the top ten murder rates is much more extreme, even though a few of them have a majority with below average rates. Except for Nevada, where Las Vegas has half of the Megachurches and the rate is almost twice the national rate, these all have large abandoned inner cities with at least twice, and usually three or four times the national murder rates. Six of them have over half above the national rate and the majority of the remaining ones in suburbs fairly close to these abandoned inner cities.
I haven't looked as thoroughly at whether or not large cities with high murder rates have more megachurches as those with lower rates, however a small sampling indicates they do. Out of the eleven states with over a million people in them the only three that have below average murder rates, San Diego San Jose and New York, all have much fewer megachurches than Houston or Dallas; Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Phoenix, all have lower murder rates than Houston or Dallas although Phoenix isn't much lower and they all have fewer megachurches; in the case of San Antonio they have a higher population than Dallas with fewer murders and megachurches. However both Philadelphia and Chicago have higher murder rates than Houston and Dallas, and although they have more megachurches than the three that are below average they have fewer than Houston or Dallas. Austin, slightly below a million people, which has lower murder rates and is also in Texas, has more churches per capita than Dallas or Houston but the ones in Dallas and Houston are bigger meaning they probably have more people attending these churches; and if you count the suburbs of Dallas or Houston they both have much more megachurches than Austin.
El Paso also has fewer megachurches per capita than Houston or Dallas and it only has a murder rate that is half that of the national average. It may be worth noting that both El Paso and Brownsville are well below half the national average despite the fact that they have a lower median income than most of the cities with below average murder rates, and they're both on the border with Mexico where you might expect high crimes with all these i problems we're allegedly getting with illegal immigration, and they have 80% and 94% Hispanic populations. A closer look at this might indicate that an enormous amount of the fear mongering in the media is based on false facts. These two Hispanic communities have much lower murder rates than many white communities with similar populations and incomes.
Nor have I looked as thoroughly, yet, at megachurches around the world; however a quick glance at Global Megachurches-World's Largest Churches compiled by Warren Bird indicates that in Europe, where murder rates are very low they have few megachurches and they're not as large, Asia has much more, and their crime rates are fairly low; but there's a large volume in both Africa and Latin America where the murder rates are much higher than they United States. These are also dysfunctional countries under control of tyrants that are often more accountable to multinational corporation than their own people.
Any good sociologists of statistician will agree that correlation alone is not enough to prove causation without additional research; however it is enough to indicate that there must be some connection for one reason or another, especially when it is this big. Part of the explanation is, of course that larger cities have higher murder rates; however this correlation is too large for that to explain all of it, and some of these comparisons account for that.
Perhaps one of the best researchers on the subject of income inequality is Jonathan Kozol, who has written over a dozen good books on the subject starting with "Death at an Early Age," describing his own experience in the Boston School system and how they were reluctant to respond to many legitimate concerns from parents with little or no political clout. He followed this up with "Savage Inequalities" and "The Shame of the Nation" exposing how unequal schools are; and "Rachel and Her Children" and "Amazing Grace" showing how this extends to homeless shelters medical treatment and exposure to much more pollution than wealthy people have to put up with.
His work is among the best research that I have seen, although additional researchers include Chris Hedges author of "Days of Destruction; Days of Revolt" Hendrick Smith author of "Who Stole the American Dream," Naomi Klein author of "The Shock Doctrine" and "No Logo" and many more that aren't promoted much in the mainstream media at all; but they provide much better research exposing economic inequality and how the democratic process is breaking down, since the mainstream media is controlled almost entirely by multimillionaires and billionaires that benefit from enormous amounts of economic inequality.
Jonathan Kozol has exposed how the political establishment has spent an enormous amount of money in legal expenses, lobbying, and deceptive to challenge court ruling that require equal treatment for minorities in education. Obviously they could have spent these legal and lobbying expenses on improving education instead reducing the gap, but chose not to, and as a result of inadequate education they have created a lot of other problems that contribute to higher crime rates in abandoned inner cities, adding massive amounts of additional expenses in court costs and prisons to deal with crime.
He also wrote about numerous hotels run by people with political connections that were contracted out to house the homeless at incredibly high rates, yet they provided incredibly poor services that didn't enable poor families to get back on their feet. These Hotels were clearly far more concerned with enriching the owners than with helping the homeless become more productive; and Kozol showed how some other programs did a much better job for much lower costs. These corrupt hotels have been exposed and shut down from time to time so the ones he wrote about were closed but more took their place, although they may not have done so equally across the country.
Some of these hotels he helped expose, often with the help of other investigative researchers, were in New York City in the eighties and they were shut down. Since then the murder rates began to steadily drop in New York City until it became the second or third city with over a million people that had below average murder rates; for a long time San Diego was the only one that did that. I wouldn't be surprised if these politically connected hotels are far less common than they used to be in New York City, but they may still be more common in other cities that still have higher murder rates, including the ones that helped reverse the decline in violent crime that reached a historical low in 2013 and 2014 before climbing again in 2015 and 2016.
If we added to that the enormous amounts of money spent on these megachurches that are also in these abandoned inner cities that aren't providing adequate child care or education this could show how to resolve many of these problems without an enormous amount of additional expenses, especially in the long run, although in the short run it may be necessary to continue paying some of these high court costs, since violence won't disappear overnight but it is a far better investment than prisons and it works without slowly causing society to decay, which is what is happening in these abandoned inner cities.
Some of this should be basic common sense, and the solution to these problems would be clear if the media did a better job reporting on the most reliable research instead of treating people like Jonathan Kozol, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges or Howard Zinn, like fringe radicals; they're actually much less extreme than the people with political clout that are making these decisions, which are Machiavellian.
One of the things Niccolò Machiavelli recommended, to control the working class, was to keep them poor with little resources that the wealthy ruling class were able to control and use to manipulate the majority. In his time there was no education available to the working class at all; this didn't begin until the industrial revolution and factory owners found that they needed educated workers, then as Howard Zinn describes in "A People's History of the United States" they provided enough education, and only enough education to teach workers how to do a good job. To this day the elite ruling class that lives in the wealthy suburbs with lower murder rates are making the majority of decisions about the education system for the working class and the poor, and they're using it to deprive them of the education they need to stand up to the political corruption that they benefit from.
This is literally right under their noses in Washington D.C. where the murder rates are 27.07 five times the national average rate; but the politicians live in the suburbs where the murder rates are much lower, and presumably they must have some way of keeping the lower classes in their place so they don't wander into the wealthy neighborhoods that may have a lot of gated communities, especially for politicians and high paid lobbyists. Baltimore is even worse with a rate of 40.05 and it's only a short drive across those wealthier suburbs, yet the politicians manage to stay oblivious to it when they decline to provide funds for education or child care that could solve a lot of these problems and is much less expensive than hiring police and paying for prisons after the fact. Maryland is routinely among the states with the highest murder rates along with Missouri that has similar characteristics where their are megachurches within abandoned inner cities and all the megachurches in Maryland and almost all in Missouri are nearby in the wealthier suburbs where the people that make decisions about funding live and are safe from the crime, or at least safer. If you compared it to Europe's lower rates, even these wealthy suburbs have high rates.
Most of the other states in the top ten for murder rates are even worse where a majority of the megachurches are in cities with above average rates and some are way higher; and even in Minnesota, which is routinely in the lowest ten for murder rates and has a state average of only two has characteristics of apartheid in Minneapolis where the rate is more than double the national average and five times the state average. Several of Minnesota's biggest megachurches are in Minneapolis and even though the majority are in suburbs with lower murder rates they're all near Minneapolis; once you get farther away in the rural areas to the west there are no megachurches.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that these separate but unequal megachurches are being used the same way the separate but unequal schools are being used to control the public and teach them to accept their place without questioning the political and media establishment that only covers incredibly corrupt candidates that clearly seem to be studying to see how to make promises to get elected only to break them over and over again once they get in office.
These megachurches and the political and media establishment helped ensure that the candidates that got the nomination catered overwhelmingly to the ruling class without addressing the concerns of the working class. Without appeals to emotion and rigged media coverage there's no way these two clowns could ahve gotten either nomination, which is what enabled the worst demagogue in history to get elected to the presidency!
Clearly we could learn an enormous amount from these countries that are taking care of their children much better to improve our own education system and end this obsession with worshiping at Megachurches that make appeals to emotion that are used to indoctrinate the working class to accept massive income inequality and to support one war after another based on lies as indicated by several articles including What It’s Like for a Working Mom in Oslo, Norway 08/21/2014; however that doesn't mean we should follow all their practices or stop with those reforms. This article focuses on Else Marie Hasle who is a "Marketing professional," which most people think of as a respectable job; but there's just one problem.
Marketing is one of the trades that we consider respectable and well paid but it's essentially well paid respectable fraud used to rob us blind in one industry after another, although there might be some exceptions that aren't quite as manipulative. Marketing is used to convince working class people to buy that useless insurance that Alex Trebek is peddling even though a large portion of the money collected goes to pay for the ads and Alex is getting his share of the loot; it's used to make torn jeans seem fashionable so foolish girls pay more for clothes that are already falling apart; when a major industry like Wells Fargo or BP gets caught red handed in a massive scam that robs or endangers the public marketing, or public relations is used to convince the majority of the public that they're respectable again so they can continue to dominate their respective industries.
Marketing is one of several industries, including political punditry, union busting and televangelism that is used to indoctrinate the public and shifte wealth from the majority to the wealthy elites, and we need a far more diverse control of large institutions that need to be held accountable to the public. Discussions about "ethics in marketing" are often controlled by the educated class that is benefiting from it and little or no effort is made to warn people about epidemic levels of fraud from a variety of sources.
Our economic system is controlled by a small fraction of the public, and contrary to the propaganda they come up with, it is not a "free market system" which enables the public to control the economy by making informed decisions; the information the public uses to make those decisions is controlled by marketing people.
It's not just the televangelists and megachurch pastors that need to be exposed for their epidemic levels of fraud but any type of industry that is involved in fraud including charismatic speaking like Suze Orman constantly telling people they need more insurance or other financial scams without telling them about her own financial incentives to promote these scams.
Although this review, so far has focused on Protestant Megachurches there are plenty of others that are doing little if anything to help the public that funds them one way or another including massive Scientology, Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim churches that use an enormous amount of resources without providing for many of the basic functions of society. Many of these religions have alleged revelations, like the commandment not to worship "graven idols," warning followers not to build such monumental structures and worship them; yet in the case of this commandment it wasn't long after it was given that Joshua built the Ark of the Covenant, with fancy jewels and other ornaments that served no practical purpose, and they began worshiping it. Like a lot of other things in religious teachings there are some verses that recommend one thing then others that often recommend the opposite; and they're often subject to interpretation so charismatic cult leaders routinely change their interpretations at any given time depending on what they want out of followers that blindly believe almost everything they teach, in many cases.
For additional information on the subject see the following:
Jonathan Kozol "Death At An Early Age"
Jonathan Kozol "Savage Inequalities" (Complete online copy)
List of Muslim mosques in the United States
List of largest Muslim mosques
Largest Catholic Churches in the United States
Largest Mormon Temples
What universal child care does for Norway 05/16/2013
Racial segregation of churches in the United States
The public and private faith of Hillary Clinton 10/31/2016
A New Decade of Megachurches 2011 Profile of Large Attendance Churches in the United States by Warren Bird and Scott Thumma
The million dollar question: Should I attend a megachurch?
Charismatic Primer 12 – Global Megachurches By Continent – Africa 10/08/2013