God's little gifts to nastiness
Religion doesn't work, according to a worldwide study of children in seven cities, including Cape Town.
It found that children who grow up in non-religious homes are more generous and altruistic than their religious peers.
Experiments involving 1170 children from a variety of religious backgrounds found the non-believers were more likely to share and less likely to endorse harsh punishments, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The results "contradict the ... popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others", according to the study, published in the journal Current Biology.
Researchers, led by University of Chicago neuroscientist Jean Decety, recruited children aged between 5 and 12 from Cape Town, Chicago, Toronto, Amman, Izmir and Istanbul, in Turkey, and Guangzhou, China - 24% were Christian, 43% were Muslim and 28% from families who are "not religious".
They showed each child 30 stickers and told them they could keep 10. They then told them there was no time to play the sticker game with every student, so some wouldn't get any.
The children responded by sharing stickers - and the kids from secular households shared more.
Generosity scores for Christians and Muslims were the same. Scores for non-religious kids were up to 28% higher.
When shown scenarios involving bumping and pushing, and asked to rate the meanness of the offenders, Muslim children judged them most harshly, followed by Christians and then secular kids.
The Muslim children endorsed harsher punishments.