Synagogue attendance may make you happier, Pew study finds

Those considered "active" religiously, were those who attended services at least once a month.

February 11, 2019 18:02
1 minute read.
Show Up For Shabbat

A large crowd from a wide variety of backgrounds attended a “Show Up For Shabbat” service at the Rodef Shalom synagogue following last Saturday's shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 2, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Pew researchers found those active in religious congregations tend to be happier and are more likely to vote in elections and join community groups or volunteer organizations than those who are unaffiliated or inactive in religious groups.

Those considered "active" religiously, were those who attended services at least once a month.

"It began with a challenging question from a journal editor at Science," Conrad Hackett, associate director of research and senior demographer at Pew Research Center said in a Pew report. " I realized then that there actually isn’t much research about how people with and without a religion vary on important outcomes like health, happiness, voting and volunteering. Sure, there’s research specifically linking frequent worship attendance with some socially desirable outcomes. But in the United States and other similar nations, most people don’t regularly attend religious services. And these non-attenders include many Christians and Jews, as well as people who don’t identify with a religion."

Because of the decrease in religious participation in many countries, the report suggests that this may lead to a decline in personal well-being and societal engagement.

However, "the numbers do not prove that going to religious services is directly responsible for improving people’s lives. Rather, it could be that certain kinds of people tend to be active in multiple types of activities (secular as well as religious), many of which may provide physical or psychological benefits," the report says.

Regardless of why, more than a third of religiously active adults in the US describe themselves as very happy while only a fourth of inactive and unaffiliated Americans call themselves very happy. These statistics ring true in some of the other 25 other countries surveyed as well. No country showed that those actively participating in religion were ever significantly less happy than others. However, in many countries there was no difference in happiness between those who were active in religion and anyone else.

The study also found that religiously active people also tend to smoke and drink less, but are not necessarily healthier.

Other countries surveyed included Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Kazakhstan, to name a few. Israel was not one of the participatory countries.

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