Go to church and pray if you want to be happy, say scientists

Those with religious beliefs are likely to be happier than atheists or agnostics.

Research suggests religion can act as an “insurance policy” against the adversities of life.

Regular churchgoers also appear to cope better with events such as divorce or unemployment and may even be happier.

The study, presented yesterday at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference-in Coventry, used data from across Europe to investigate the effect of being religious on life satisfaction, as well as attitudes towards government policies.

Although the idea of religious belief as a “fortress” was not new, “this issue of insurance has surprisingly received only limited attention”, the report’s authors said.

The study concluded that the “stress-buffering” effect varies according to the life event and religious denomination, but “churchgoing and prayer are also associated with greater satisfaction”.

Authors Professor Andrew Clark and Dr Orsolya Lelkes also found strong faith led to different political attitudes. The religious were less supportive of unemployment benefits. Religion could even influence the evolution of social and economic institutions, they said.

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The Daily Mail, UK
Mar. 17, 2008

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This post was last updated: Mar. 18, 2008