Going To Church Makes People Happier – Part 2 of 3
The study is based on a phone survey of more than 3000 Americans in 2006, and a follow-up survey with 1915 respondents in 2007. Most of those surveyed were mainline Protestants, Catholics and Evangelicals, but a selfish number of Jews, Muslims and other non-traditional Christian churches was also included. “Even in that short time, we observed that people who were not going to church but then started to go more often reported an gain in how they felt about life satisfaction”.
He said that people have a deep need for belonging to something “greater than themselves”. The experience of sharing rituals and activities with close friends in a congregation makes this “become real, as opposed to something more essence and remote”. In addition to church attendance, respondents were asked how many close friends they had in and outside of their congregations, and questions about their health, education, income, shape and whether their religious identity was very important to their “sense of self”.
Respondents who said they experienced “God’s presence” were no more likely to report feeling greater satisfaction with their lives than those who did not. Only the covey of close friends in their congregations and having a strong religious identity predicted feeling extremely satisfied with life. One reason may be that “friends who attend religious services together give spiritual-minded identity a sense of reality,” the authors said.
The study drew a skeptical response from one expert. “Some of their conclusions are a little shaky,” said Dr Harold G Koenig, executive of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. The study showed that religious identity is just as important as how many friends a person has in their congregation also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the university.