By Michael Sterchi
Religion, religious practice and church attendance has a beneficial effect on the overall health of those who believe in divine providence. It is said that about 50 percent of Americans attend church and many include prayer in their religious practice. Since such large numbers of people either go to church or pray, the positive consequences that flow from the practice of religion should be pointed out.
Regular religious practice protects against suicide, drug abuse and improves mental health with less depression and results in more self–esteem and greater family and marital happiness. Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health.
It increases longevity, improves the chances of recovery from illness and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.
This claim of benefit to those who engage in religious practices is supported by a number of comprehensive reviews of reports, with the vast number showing a positive benefit for religious practice. A small number of studies showed negative results but these were thought to be related to unhealthy religious practices, as seen in some bizarre religious cults.
Specifically, what are we talking about? As early as 1970, studies showed that heart disease is significantly reduced in older individuals who attend church on a regular basis. Furthermore, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and hardening of the arteries is reduced. Blood pressure is also found to be reduced, allowing for less heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure among regular churchgoers. In all these studies the overriding benefit is an improvement in longevity. People who practice their religion on a regular basis live longer.
In a landmark and fascinating study published in 1980, patients who were to have heart surgery were divided into prayer and non-prayer groups. The patients did not know what group they were in, the doctors and nurses didn’t know who was being prayed for and those praying had no personal contact with the patients. Those patients prayed for had less post-operative heart failure, fewer heart arrests, less pneumonia and less need for antibiotics. Thus, the power of prayer has a scientific basis.
Religious practice will not only improve our nation’s health but our social order as well This nation was founded promoting the freedom of all Americans to practice their religious beliefs but Congress and the courts, as well as radical groups, has crowded religion out of the public square. It is time to bring it back.
Published February 8, 2012