I continue to share my notes from Paul McFate, 52 Good Reasons to Go to Church, Besides the Obvious Ones (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 2004). Here are some additional examples of the good things that might come to you and your family if you regularly attend religious services:
- More Happiness and Excitement in Old Age (29) — (This is one that especially interests me, as I hurtle ever more rapidly toward senility and decrepitude, followed by oblivion.) A 1980 article showed that church attendance is related to happiness; self-rated health; satisfaction with circumstances connected to place of residence, family, and health; and even excitement in life for older people. [L. Y. Steinitz, “Religiosity, Well-Being, and Weltanschauung Among the Elderly,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 19 (1980): 60-67]
- Healthier Communities (30) — A study of 3063 American counties published in 1990 indicated that communities with higher percentages of active churchgoers have healthier citizens — specifically with regard to cancer — than do communities that are less religious. Communities with high populations of “conservative Protestants and Mormons had the lowest mortality rates.” The results were valid even after controlling for fifteen major known causes of cancer. [J. W. Dwyer, L. L. Clarke, and M. K. Miller, “The Effect of Religious Concentration and Affiliation on County Cancer Mortality Rates,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 31 (1990): 185-202]
- Long-Term Benefits (31) — Based on a sample of 5286 residents of one American county followed over nearly three decades, a study published in 1997 concluded that “frequent church attenders were less likely to smoke. Among those who did smoke, they were more likely to quite smoking. Frequent church attendees also tended to drink less, have more social contacts, stay married, and live longer than infrequent attendees. Frequent churchgoers were also more likely to exercise and lose weight.” [W. J. Strawbridge, R. D. Cohen, S. J. Shema, and G. A. Kaplan, “Frequent Attendance at Religious Services and Mortality Over 28 Years,” American Journal of Public Health 87 (1997): 957-961]
- Rising Out of Poverty (32) — The National Longitudinal Study of Youth tracked 12,686 American young people, beginning in 1979. It found that children whose families attended church weekly in 1979 and 1982 grew up to have an average per-family income of $37,000 by 1993. Those children whose families never attended church services in 1979 and 1982, by contrast, grew up to have an average per-family income of only $24,361 — fully $12,639 lower — in 1993. This result held regardless of whether the family in question was intact or broken. [U. S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The National Longitudinal Study of Youth,” analysis by Heritage Foundation analyst Christine Olson]
Feel free to include any or all of these items in your Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File. There will be no charge.