Some Physical, Social, and Psychological Benefits of Religious Involvement

Some Physical, Social, and Psychological Benefits of Religious Involvement June 24, 2020


The new temple in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple was dedicated in September 2016.
(LDS Media Library)


I offer three more items from Paul McFate, 52 Good Reasons to Go to Church, Besides the Obvious Ones (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 2004) — a little book or booklet that I commend to you (though it may be hard to find).  Every single one of the three has been officially board-certified as appropriate for inclusion in your Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File:


  • Survival of Cardiac Surgery (page 55) — Surviving heart surgery depends upon a number of factors, including the seriousness of the problem, the overall health and strength and age of the patient . . . and going to church.  A 1995 study of 232 people over the age of fifty-five “showed that those who took no comfort or strength in their religion were three times as likely to die within six months of surgery as those who did find comfort and strength in their religion.  More striking were the results of those who not only found comfort and strength in their religion but were also very active in participation.  They were dramatically less likely to die in the six months following surgery, suffering a mortality rate of two and a half percent, compared to a twenty-one percent mortality rate for their nonreligious counterparts.”  [T. E. Oxman, D. H. Freeman, and E. D. Manheimer, “Lack of Social Participation or Religious Strength and Comfort as Risk Factors for Death After Cardiac Surgery in the Elderly,” Psychosomatic Medicine 57 (1995): 5-15]
  • Reduced Delinquency (page 56) — A study of 817 high school students that was published in 1985 found that, as religious activity decreased, serious delinquent behavior, aggression, theft, and vandalism all increased.  Frequency of church attendance had a direct behavioral impact.  Moreover, according to a 1970 study of 21,720 junior high school and high school students, the positive effect of religious involvement may be significantly enhanced if both parents belong to the same church and both attend regularly.  [C. W. Peck, E. W. Curry, and H. P. Chalfant, “Religiosity and Delinquency Over Time: Deviance Deterrence and Deviance Amplification,” Social Science Quarterly 66 (1985): 120-131; A. L. Rhodes and A. J. Reiss, “The ‘Religious Factor’ and Delinquent Behavior,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 7 (1970): 83-98)]
  • A Sense of Purpose (page 57) — A survey of 345 members of a nondenominational prayer group that was published in 1991 indicated, as other studies also have, that people who pray find a greater sense of purpose in life.  And a large study published in 1989 correlated a sense of purpose with greater life satisfaction.  [D. G. Richards, “The Phenomenology and Psychological Correlates of Verbal Prayer,” Journal of Psychology and Theology 19 (1991): 354-363; C. G. Ellison, D. A. Gay, and T. A. Glass, “Does Religious Commitment Contribute to Individual Life Satisfaction?” Social Forces 68 (1989): 100-123]



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