According to new data released by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), non-religious people were less likely to die from COVID since the beginning of the pandemic compared to every religious group.
The data covers a stretch of time from January, 2020 through the end of February, 2021.
Men and women in the “no religion” group, and women identifying as “other religion” had lower rates of death involving COVID-19 compared with the Christian group. Higher mortality rates were seen for people identifying as Muslim than for all other religious groups. Mortality rates for deaths involving COVID-19 were also higher for those identifying as Hindu, Sikh or Jewish compared with those identifying as Christian.
Adjusting for differences in location, socio-demographic factors, and certain pre-existing health conditions accounts for a large proportion (but not all) of the excess COVID-19 mortality risk observed in some religious groups.
Specifically, for every 100,000 people, approximately 218 women and 337 men in the “No religion” category died of COVID-19 compared to 250 women and 402 men in the Christian category. Among Muslims, whose overall population is a fraction of Christians, the numbers are 519 women and 967 men.
Because there are other factors involved in dealing with COVID than just religion, it would be inaccurate to say people without organized religion are better at dealing with COVID than the religious. That’s far too simplistic. It would also be inaccurate to say “atheists” fare better than religious people since “No religion” is a category that includes atheists, agnostics, and a hell of a lot of believers who don’t belong to any organized religious group.
That said, I’m not surprised that people inclined to accept the science of COVID are faring better than groups that often rely on prayer to overcome problems and whose religious leaders may have regularly trashed scientific conclusions. While many religious groups took sensible precautions during the pandemic, there’s no shortage of pastors who refused to abide by the rules.
If more religious and political leaders urged their followers to listen to scientists instead of doing whatever they wanted, more lives would’ve been saved. We’re still not out of the woods, but the same voices that misled people throughout the past year haven’t stopped spreading misinformation.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)