29 September 2018

Religious Affiliations Rated From Good To Evil

This post is an unscientific, only half serious ranking of different kinds of religious affiliations on a scale that I describe as "good to evil." The ranking is from good to evil, in order, so the first listed religious affiliation is the most good, and the last is the most evil.

It is a rating of an average person with a given religious affiliation and recognizes that every category has a range of individuals. Even the most highly rated religious affiliation will have some people whose conduct and actions are particularly evil, and even the lowest rated religious affiliation will have some people who live exemplary lives. Religious affiliation definitely influences how likely it is that someone conducts their lives in a good or evil way, but it is not destiny. 

I strongly support the view that one should not discriminate based upon religious affiliation in making decisions about particular individuals because the variation within any religious affiliation is so great.

Additional caveats and definitions follow the rankings. Commentary follows some rankings in italics.

The Rankings 

1. Society of Friends (Quakers)

2. Humanists

3. Atheists (not connected to a Maoist or Lenninist Communist ideology)

4. Satanic Temple members

5. Buddhist and/or Shinto and/or Taoist/Daoist (excluding Tibetan Buddhists). This category is "and/or" because any people of Japanese origins simultaneously adhere to Buddhist and Shinto and Taoist religious practices and beliefs in addition to Confucian ethical precepts. Daoist is an alternative transliteration of Taoist into English language spelling.

6. American Ethical Union (a Humanist affiliation mostly made up of people who were historically Jewish)

7. Reformed Jewish

8. Unitarian Universalist (including Unitarian Christians within this otherwise non-Christian denomination).

9. Reconstructionist Jewish (the most "liberal" of the main organized American Jewish "denominations").

10. Secular Jewish

11. Agnostic

12. Episcopalian

13. Confucians (who are not adherents to a religion) 

14. Bahai

15. Metropolitan Churches (a predominantly LGBT Christian denomination)

16. Native American folk religion adherents

17. United Church of Christ and Congregationalist Churches (descendants of the historical established church of New England)

18. Church of the Brethren

19. Orthodox Jews

20. Sikhs

21. Tibetan Buddhists

22. Spiritual but not religious

23. New Age Spiritualists, Neo-Pagans and Wiccans (except White Supremacist Nordic Neo-Pagans)

24. LeVey Satanists

25. Orthodox Church in America

26. Druze

27. Catholic denominations that split from the Roman Catholic Church

28. Eastern Rite Catholics

29. Greek Orthodox

30. Hindu (other than Hare Krishna)

31. Non-Religious

32. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

33. Muslims who emphasize Sufi spiritualism in their lives (whether Shiite or Sunni)

34. Amish

35. African Methodist Episcopal (AME) A predominantly African-American group of denominations

36. Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptic Christians

37. Nation of Islam

38. Presbyterian (USA)

39. Roman Catholic There is a particularly broad range of diversity within this, the largest Christian denomination in the world.

40. Syrian Orthodox

41. United Methodist

42. Christian Church (Disciples)

43. Parsi (South Asian and Iranian Zoroastrians)

44. Korean Protestant

45. Reformed Church (descendant of European Calvinist cburches)

46. Hare Krishnas

47. Latino Pentecostals

48. Christian Scientist

49. American Baptist Church

50. Latino Mormons

51. Alevi and Alawite Muslims

52. Rastafarian

53. Community of Christ (a smaller Mormon denomination)

54. Shiite Muslim (not elsewhere classified)

55. Mormon (not elsewhere classified)

56. Lutheran, Missouri Synod

57. Anglican (affiliated with African Anglicans but predominantly white in the U.S.)

58. Unification Church (Moonies)

59. African American Baptist Churches

60. Church of God (several predominantly African-American Pentecostal denominations)

61. African immigrant animists

62. Sunni Muslim (not elsewhere classified)

63. Maoist Atheists

64. Jehovah's Witnesses

65. Messianic Jews

66. Lenninist Atheists

67. Russian Orthodox

68. Non-denominational Christian churches and megachurches (this category has broad internal variation)

69. Seventh Day Adventists

70. Polygamous Mormon denominations who live in the larger community

71. African immigrant Protestant churches

72. Lutheran, Wisconsin Synod

73. Presbyterian Church in America

74. Scientologists

75. Assembly of God

76. Southern Baptists

77. Evangelical televangelists and Christian revivalist ministers

78. Various splinter small predominantly white Evangelical denominations

79. Salafist Muslims and adherents of similar Muslim movements (e.g. the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi movement and the Taliban)

80. Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) church

81. Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS (the "God Hates Fags" church)

82. White Supremacist Nordic Neo-Pagans

83. Various restrictive cult of personality churches (e.g. the Branch Dravidians)

Caveats and Definitions


This ranking is a descriptive one. Thus, it is based upon how people with this religious affiliation live their lives individually ad collectively, not upon how the doctrines and beliefs associated with their religious affiliation says that they should act.


It is based primarily upon my personal perception of how ethically and morally people who consider themselves to have this religious affiliation tend to act when faced with a decision or an opportunity to act morally or immorally. 

One of the important subsets of this first criteria is how people with this religious affiliation would be likely to treat a stranger of unknown religious affiliation who faces persecution or simply needs help.

As a secondary consideration given significant less weight than the primary consideration, I consider the extent to which people who share this religious affiliation tend to engage in effective collective action for the benefit of others either within or outside that religious affiliation. The collective action involved may be, but ins't necessarily, itself affiliated with the religious affiliation itself. If people with a religious affiliation often engage in effective ecumenical or secular collective action for the benefit of others, this still counts. On the other hand, if people with a particular religious affiliation often attempt to engage in collective action for the benefit of others, but their attempted tend to be disorganized and ineffective, their collective action is not a plus factor.


No effort is made to quantify the extent to which religious affiliations are good or evil, it is simply a relative rank ordering.

Based Upon U.S. Adherents

All of these rankings are based upon the subset of people with this religious affiliation who live in the United States of America, even though, in the case of many religious affiliation that has primarily non-U.S. adherents, the people who have that religious affiliation in the United States may be highly atypical of the global population of people with that religious affiliation.

For example, Hindus are ranked here based upon the subset of Hindus who live in the United States and not upon Hindus in India.

This said, familiarity with the most distinctive aspects of a religious affiliation with many non-U.S. adherents does inform the rankings to some extent where there is no reason to believe that U.S. adherents of a religious affiliation are typical. 

Categorization and Ethnic Subgrouping

In some cases, people who have the same religious affiliation or identity, strictly speaking, are strongly segregated ethnically and would, for example, rarely worship together. 

For example, even though most Protestant churches in immigrant Korean communities in the United States are affiliated with a larger, predominately white U.S. Protestant denomination, in practice, people affiliated with Korean Protestant churches are very similar to each other, regardless of their particular denominational affiliation in the United States and are relatively speaking more dissimilar for the purposes evaluated in this ranking to white American members of the Protestant denomination with which they are formally affiliated.

So, to the extent possible I have made this distinction in all cases except the Roman Catholic Church, which despite its great internal diversity, does not quite reach the threshold where, for example, one can meaningfully segregate out Latino Roman Catholics from ethically Irish or ethnically Italian or ethnically French Roman Catholics. At any rate, even to the extent that it is possible to do this, I am not knowledgable enough about the inner subcultures of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to do so.

I also recognize that there are more subgroups within both Shiite and Sunni Islam than I identify, but have not disaggregated them for the purposes of this ranking at this time.

I try to be as comprehensive as possible, but some religious affiliations, for example, Yazidis, I have insufficient knowledge and data to make any kind of evaluation.

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