For your “Christopher Hitchens Memorial ‘How Religion Poisons Everything’ File”

For your “Christopher Hitchens Memorial ‘How Religion Poisons Everything’ File” April 29, 2020


The Bountiful Temple from above
An aerial view of the Bountiful Utah Temple (LDS Media Library), near which I’m typing


I offer just a bit more from Paul McFate, 52 Good Reasons to Go to Church, Besides the Obvious Ones (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 2004).  Like those in the previous entry that draws from Paul McFate’s book, these scientifically-supported benefits of church attendance are excellent materials for those who want to keep their Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” Files growing at a healthy pace:

  • Improved Self-Image (19).  One study surveyed the residents of four 200-bed nursing homes in New York City.  Contrasting public religious participation with “intrinsic religiosity” — that is considering oneself religious without any actual participation in religious actitities — they found that the former had a distinctly positive effect upon how people felt about themselves in their senior years.  [M. C. Commerford and M. Reznikoff, “Relationship of Religion and Perceived Social Support to Self-Esteem and Depression in Nursing Home Residents,” Journal of Psychology 130 (1996): 35-50.]
  • Higher Self-Esteem Among Teens (24).  A study of nearly two thousand Catholic teenagers in North America and Europe found that those who had grown up attending church had a higher level of self-esteem than those did who lacked such a religious commitment.  [C. B. Smith, A. J. Weigert, and D. L. Thomas, “Self-Esteem and Religiosity: An Analysis of Catholic Adolescents from Five Cultures,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 18 (1979): 51-60.]
  • Boosted Immune System (20).  Curiously, according to one study, the incidence of tuberculosis was higher among those who didn’t attend church than among those who did.  Consistent with an earlier study, “the more frequent the attendance, the more pronounced the effect.”  [G. W. Comstock, H. Abbey, and F. E. Lundin, “The Non-Official Census as a Basic Tool for Epidemiologic Observations in Washington County, Maryland,” in The Community as an Epidemiologic Laboratory: A Casebook of Community Studies (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970), 73-97.]
  • Improved Personal Satisfaction and Happiness (21).  A 1976 article compared the personal satisfaction and happiness of 830 people in sixteen different kinds of voluntary association, including but not limited to churches.  Only church affiliation proved a reliable predictor of happiness and satisfaction.  [S. J. Cutler, “Memberships in Different Types of Voluntary Associations and Psychological Well-Being,” The Gerontologist 16 (1976): 335-339.]
  • Reduced Stress (22).  Several large studies indicate that committed religious people handle stress better, on the whole, than do those without a religious commitment, with great religious commitment showing a greater effect.  One 1991 article contends that “new stressful life events and health problems have a negative impact on mental health that is buffered among frequent church attenders.”  [R. W. Williams, D. B. Larson, R. E. Buckler, R. C. Hackman, and C. M. Pale, “Religion and Psychological Stress in a Community Sample,” Social Science Medicine 32 (1991): 1257-1262.]
  • Decreased Juvenile Delinquency (23).  Using a national survey of 1,799 young men below the age of eighteen, R. Stark, L. Kent, and D. P. Doyle found that the more religious the young men were, the less likely they were to become delinquents.  “The effect was notably stronger in communities where religious commitment was more prevalent, suggesting that where there is a critical mass of church attendance in a community, the likelihood of juvenile delinquency is reduced.”  [R. Stark, L. Kent, and D. P. Doyle, “Religion and Delinquency: The Ecology of a ‘Lost’ Relationship,” Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 19 (1982): 4-24.]


Posted from Bountiful, Utah


[Postscript, to those who eagerly scan these blog entries in hopes of finding evidence of plagiarism:  The entries that I identify as “notes” are, as I say, notes.  In the particular case above, they are notes from Paul McFate, 52 Good Reasons to Go to Church, Besides the Obvious Ones (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 2004).  They are notes from that text.  I do not count them as my original creation.  I do not count them as a publication of mine.  They are notes, of the kind that, in earlier days, I would have written onto an index card or into a notebook for future use.  I share them here because I think that some might find them of interest in and of themselves, and also because using them as blog entries gives me an incentive to extract them from my readings.  (It’s plainly easier and faster to read and to mark passages than actually to copy the notes from those marked passages out, but making double use of them [here currently, and as resource material for a planned future book] makes the task more agreeable to me.)  Sometimes, they will be all or mostly actual quotations.  At some other times, very much including this particular little book, they will all or mostly be my closely paraphrased jottings.  Sometimes, they will be something in between the two.]



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