Religious affiliation and regular church attendance are near the top of the list for most people in explaining their own happiness and serve as good predictors of who is most likely to have this sense of well-being. Happiness is greater and psychological stress is lower for those who attend religious services regularly. Those pursuing a personal relationship with God tend to have improved relationships with themselves and with others. A large epidemiological study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 found that the religiously committed had much less psychological distress than the uncommitted. Rodney Stark, now of the University of Washington, found the same in a 1970 study: The higher the level of religious attendance, the less stress suffered when adversity had to be endured. Similarly, in a longitudinal study of 720 adults conducted by David Williams of the University of Michigan, regular religious attendance led to much less psychological distress. In 1991, David Larson, adjunct professor at the Northwestern and Duke University Schools of Medicine and president of the National Institute of Healthcare Research, completed a systematic review of studies on religious commitment and personal well-being.
He found that the relationship is powerful and positive; overall, psychological functioning improved following a resumption of participation in religious worship for those who had stopped. There is a growing consensus that America needs to pursue policies aimed at re-strengthening the family. Henry of Brigham Young University's Department of Sociology sum up earlier research on the quest by young people for meaning and love: "Research on love clearly indicates that for many, love in the social realm cannot clearly be separated from love that contains a vertical or a divine element....
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Some 78 percent pray at least once per week, and 57 percent pray daily.
Even among the 13 percent of the population who call themselves agnostics or atheists, some 20 percent pray daily. When policymakers consider America's grave social problems, including violent crime and rising illegitimacy, substance abuse, and welfare dependency, they should heed the findings in the professional literature of the social sciences on the positive consequences that flow from the practice of religion. For example, there is ample evidence that: The overall impact of religious practice is illustrated dramatically in the three most comprehensive systematic reviews of the field. Some 81 percent of the studies showed the positive benefit of religious practice, 15 percent showed neutral effects, and only 4 percent showed harm. Each of these systematic reviews indicated more than 80 percent benefit, and none indicated more than 10 percent harm.
Middletown [churchgoing] members were more likely to be married, remain married and to be highly satisfied with their marriages and to have more children....
The great divide between marriage status, marriage satisfaction and family size is...
Is the decline of religious influence part of what is happening to us?
Is it not just possible that anti-religious bias masquerading as religious neutrality is costing more than we have been willing to acknowledge?