Many experts won’t admit there is a growing amount of research that shows religion is good for you and the community, writes Denis Dragovic. Source: The Age.
Here’s some of the research. Belief in a religion helps with mental health as it promotes self-control and self-regulation. Systematic reviews of the many studies undertaken show a consistent result; religious people are less depressed, have lower rates of suicidal ideation, substantially lower alcohol and drug abuse, perform better at school, have more stable marriages and fewer personality disorders.
Other reputable research suggests that religious people adopt healthy behaviours that lower the rates of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, dementia, immune and endocrine disorders, and cancer.
Even when it comes to conflict, the naysayers on religion have it wrong. A study of nearly 2000 wars through history found that historically 7 per cent were religious wars and only 2 per cent of all deaths were from religious wars.
With so much rigorously researched evidence, you would think prison officials dealing with over-crowding or health experts interested in better outcomes would be racing to engage with religious groups. Sadly, this is not the case.
We live in a time when religion is seen as bad, being religious as showing poor judgment and practising religion as deserving of contempt.
Yet an Australia without a public presence of religious groups would be unrecognisable. Nearly two-thirds of all aged care services are provided by religious groups, one-third of students in Catholic schools are non-Catholic and nearly a quarter of all charities are religious. This collaboration between government and religious groups began in the earliest days of settlement and has continued through to today, contributing to Australia’s unique social structures.
– Dr Denis Dragovic is an honorary senior fellow at the University of Melbourne and a specialist on the role of religion and society.