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-Study: Leaving Your Religion Could be Bad for Your Health?

by Dr. D ~ September 24th, 2010

Cults and new religious movements in literatur...

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Here’s a study that indicates leaving ones religion is not only a spiritual issue but could actually be bad for ones health

A study published in the current issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior shows that those seriously involved in more strict religions have better health than the norm and conversely when one leaves that religion their health suffers.

The study was conducted by Christopher Scheitle, a senior research assistant in sociology at Penn State University. It showed that 40 percent of those who said they practice a religion with strict social, moral and physical guidelines reported themselves to be in excellent health.

This compared to only 25% in excellent health among those who left a strict religion and joined a more liberal religious group and down to a mere 20% for folks who quit religion entirely.

According to Scheitle who set up the study:

“Previous research showed some association between belonging to a religious group and positive health outcomes. We became interested in what would happen to your health if you left a religious group. Would people demonstrate any negative health outcomes?"

The findings of the report suggested that a decline in health was probably the result of involvement in unhealthy behaviors that had been prohibited by the previous religious group. Leaving a particular religion also resulted in losing the formal and informal support structures within that group that promoted better health. Also leaving a religious group created greater stress since according to Scheite:

“You could lost your friends or your family becomes upset when you leave, leading to psychological stress and negative health outcomes.”

Response: An Interesting study. However I am not sure that all of the different factors that contribute to health or the lack thereof have been adequately factored in.

Also I’m not really all that comfortable with any study that considers ‘strict’ religions like those of the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and Jehovah’s Witnesses as being preferable to more ‘liberal’ Christian churches when it comes to being ‘good’ for ones health either physically or spiritually.

Nevertheless it does sound logical to me that participating in religion could be more healthy than not, giving one structure, purpose, friends, and a better well rounded satisfying life.          *Top of the Blog

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2 Responses to -Study: Leaving Your Religion Could be Bad for Your Health?

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