Monday, April 16, 2012

Cheating for Charity

Perhaps this research explains the embarrassing amount of chilul Hashem that goes on when 'religious people' (note the '') cheat and steal, and try to justify it by saying that it is for a good cause.

"Drawing the Line Somewhere: An Experimental Study of Moral Compromise shows that people are more likely to lie when a charity benefits from their dishonesty.

Of course this in no way justifies such behaviour, nor does it minimise the chilul Hashem caused by such behaviour.

Personally, I think there is also another major factor at play when religious people (try to) cheat the system - they feel that it is not their system, and that the 'system' does not represent them. When people feel disenfranchised they are more likely to commit crimes. If they feel that the legal system and police force does not represent them, people are more likely to either take law into their own hands, or ignore laws and rules and rights.

Unfortunately in Israel many of the various segments of religious society feel that they are not represented by the justice system. And once the rules don't apply - well the mishna in Avot says it best:

"Rabbi Chanina taught: "Pray for the welfare of the government, for without fear of governmental authorities people would swallow each other alive" (3:2)."

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