We often hear religious folks make the argument that religion and faith are a conditio sine qua non for the health of a society, for morality, for people being good and decent, andsoforth. Nonbelievers then often cite anecdotal evidence from such things as religious wars, the Inquisition, death and disease by active discouragement of contraception and condom use in Africa, or the high number of religious people in prisons, as counterexamples of why this claim by the religious is false. But we do in fact have more than anecdotes to disprove their claim.
A study from 2005, that was commissioned by the, if anything, religiously-inclined Kripke Center, and published in the Journal of Religion & Society, includes some rather striking numbers, and refutes the assertion that religiosity is a requirement for a healthy society once and for all. In fact, the opposite is true.
Essentially, the study found that the higher the influence and prevalence of religious belief in any society, the more widespread the denial of human evolution, and the higher the rates of teen pregnancy, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, under-5yr mortality and homicides.
Just two examples (U stands for USA, J for Japan, A for Australia, P for Portugal asf) :
Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been curtailed in all prosperous democracies (Aral and Holmes; Panchaud et al.), rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the U.S. than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed democracies
Despite a significant decline from a recent peak in the 1980s (Rosenfeld), the U.S. is the only prosperous democracy that retains high homicide rates, making it a strong outlier in this regard (Beeghley; Doyle, 2000). Similarly, theistic Portugal also has rates of homicides well above the secular developed democracy norm. Mass student murders in schools are rare, and have subsided somewhat since the 1990s, but the U.S. has experienced many more (National School Safety Center) than all the secular developed democracies combined.
I will just quote you the conclusion of the authors :
Indeed, the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.
I rest my case.