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The Serial Killer Test: Biases Against Atheists Emerge in Study

Most people around the world, whether religious or not, presume that serial killers are more likely to be atheists than believers in any god, suggests a new study, which counters the common assumption that increasingly secular societies are equally tolerant of nonbelievers. Avowed atheists exhibited the same bias in judging sadistic criminals, the study found. The new report, appearing in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, included more than 3,000 people in 13 countries, both secular states like the Netherlands and Finland, and deeply religious ones like the United Arab Emirates and India. The findings suggest that, despite declining attendance at churches, mosques, and temples in many communities, the cultural tenet that religion is a bulwark against immorality remains intact, experts said, even in those who deny it explicitly.

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