In [a new] study, children growing up in households that weren't religious were significantly more likely to share than were children growing up in religious homes. The findings support the notion that the secularization of moral discourse may serve to increase rather than decrease human kindness, the researchers say. "Some past research had demonstrated that religious people aren't more likely to do good than their nonreligious counterparts," said Jean Decety of the University of Chicago. "Our study goes beyond that by showing that religious people are less generous, and not only adults but children too." […]
Importantly, the researchers report, children who were the most altruistic came from atheist or non-religious families. […] The results might be explained in part by "moral licensing," a phenomenon in which doing something "good"—in this case practicing a religion—can leave people less concerned about the consequences of immoral behavior, the researchers say.