Mixing religion and alcohol may be dangerous to other people’s health according to a new study of religion, alcohol and violence.
It says that religious people who were not under the influence were the most likely to turn the other cheek among those studied. But religious people who are intoxicated appear to be most likely to be show aggression among intoxicated persons in the study.
The study by the University of Kentucky’s Aaron A. Duke and Peter R. Giancola, published in the latest issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, adds new insight into the complex relation between religion and aggression. It appears that alcohol can release aggression in religious individuals.
Religious beliefs and practices in general are associated with more compassionate behavior toward others. A review of the scientific literature by Duke and Giancola found that a majority of survey studies showed religion was associated with lower levels of aggression. In particular, some studies indicated religious individuals are less likely to commit crimes, and that faith may be associated with lower rates of domestic violence.
But there are also times when religion is linked to more aggressive behavior. For example, biblical admonitions warning parents that if they spare the rod, they will spoil the child appear to be associated with higher rates of corporal punishment among religious conservatives.
In the alcohol study, too much booze appeared to not only negate, but to reverse the positive effects of religion in limiting aggression.