|Vacuous scare tactic or good point?|
I don't know whether my submitted comment will be posted, so I paste my response below.
"Clay's point that the democratic function relies heavily upon the compliance of the majority is well taken. A state where the majority does not voluntarily obey the majority of the substantive laws would be inefficient at best, and dysfunctional at worst.
His second point, though, is poorly supported at best, and inaccurate and insulting at worst. He said
"If you take away religion, you can't hire enough police," and explicitly drew a positive correlation between weekly church attendance + a belief in accountability to God, and obedience to laws. I think a rather large proportion of those who either do not attend church or do not believe they are accountable to God would balk, despite the persuasive mellow tones playing in the background, at the suggestion that the only leash holding them back from law-breaking is the threat of police enforcement. Religious folks don't have a corner on the moral market, and I am not aware of evidence that they are, on average, any more or less law-abiding than their non-church attending, non-theistic counterparts.
Though not acquainted with the relevant literature myself, I would also be unsurprised to find a lack of empirical evidence supporting Clay's claim- I can think of some relatively godless countries with much lower crime rates than some highly religious ones, for example. I would speculate that other factors (the corruptness of the government, the economic security of the actor, the efficiency and fairness of the country's laws, the cost of compliance, etc.) are more predictive of voluntary compliance with laws than one's church attendance. If your aim truly is a functioning democracy, then you should focus on the factors that most powerfully predict that functionality: like economic opportunity, an efficient and accessible justice system, a strong and stable central government, etc.
Regardless of whether I've speculated well, what Clay's done is inappropriate: used the fear of law-breaking masses in order to promote religion, bereft of compelling evidence."