NEW YORK – For happiness, there’s no group quite like American
Indeed, they scored the highest of any US religious group in terms
of “well-being” – even though more than half of American Jews qualify as
“nonreligious,” according to the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being
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The survey was taken of more than 550,000 people who were scored
on questions used to indicate their emotional health, physical health, work
environment and healthy behavior.
Jews were ranked No. 1, followed by
nonreligious or atheists/agnostics, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and other
Protestants scored the lowest.
Individual groups were
also divided among the “very religious” (based on how important religion is in
their lives); the “nonreligious” (those who say religion isn’t important); and
the “moderately religious,” (who fall somewhere in between). More than half – 55
percent – of US Jews were classified as “nonreligious,” while 16% were “very
Seventy-five percent of Mormons deemed themselves “very
religious,” the most of any group. Nonreligious Americans came in second in the
study. Gallup-Healthways said this group, although small in size, likely scored
high because it includes unaffiliated Americans who may be religious but don’t
belong to a specific faith group, as well as atheists and agnostics.
“very religious” generally scored higher in the study in each subset than their
nonreligious counterparts – perhaps reflecting the “social aspects of attending
religious institutions,” the researchers suggested.
American Jews were no
exception to this calculus; the most religious Jews scored highest on the
“The findings confirm that the strong positive relationship
between religiosity and well-being that Gallup-Healthways previously
demonstrated holds regardless of faith,” Gallup wrote in an analysis of the
“Furthermore, the relationship appears to be largely independent of
proportions of very religious, moderately religious and nonreligious within each
religious group – and it is more closely aligned with the faith
Overall, the study concluded that 44% of Americans are very
religious; 27% are moderately religious; and 30% are nonreligious.
survey, conducted over a seven-month period, was the result of a partnership
between Gallup and Healthways, a Tennessee company focused on health. It
involved a random sample of 554,066 US adults, and had a margin of error of plus
or minus 0.5 percentage points.