I know this is based on a small sample, but I found it fascinating nonetheless:
Below is an US based abstract entitled: With God on my side: The paradoxical relationship between religious belief and criminality among hardcore street offenders.
Research has found that many street offenders anticipate an early death, making them less prone to delay gratification, more likely to discount the future costs of crime, and thus more likely to offend. Ironically, many such offenders also hold strong religious convictions, including those related to the punitive afterlife consequences of offending. To reconcile these findings, we interviewed 48 active street offenders to determine their expectation of an early demise, belief in the afterlife, and notions of redemption and punishment. Despite the deterrent effects of religion that have been highlighted in prior research, our results indicate that religion may have a counterintuitive criminogenic effect in certain contexts. Through purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance, the hardcore offenders we interviewed are able to exploit the absolvitory tenets of religious doctrine, neutralizing their fear of death to not only allow but encourage offending. This suggests a number of intriguing consequences for deterrence theory and policy.
So in essence it strikes me that given these criminals live in an environment which we used to describe as ‘live big die quick’ and as a consequence their own mortality is in their face every day, this gives rise to certain behaviour and modes of thinking which may include strong religious convictions.
But instead of these religious convictions driving moral behaviour, it’s actually used to placate fear of death and judgement and fuels further offending, through their belief in God’s forgiveness.
Tags: Religion Society