Ten year Gallup study highlights positives of having a religious faith

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Gallup research presented earlier this month has highlighted the profound connection between faith and well-being, emphasising the positive influence of religion on individuals worldwide.

The findings, as outlined in the report “Faith and Wellness: The Worldwide Connection Between Spirituality & Wellbeing,” affirm that individuals who embrace religion often enjoy heightened levels of overall well-being.

Conducted between 2012 to 2022, the study consistently demonstrates that those who hold religious beliefs tend to experience greater positivity, increased social support, and engage more deeply within their communities in comparison to their non-religious counterparts. These compelling insights shed light on the potential impact of religion and spirituality in addressing global mental health challenges.

The research examined various aspects of respondents’ lives, including positive experiences, social life, civic engagement, and optimistic outlook.

The data revealed striking disparities in key areas:

1. Social Life: Religious individuals scored 77.6, surpassing non-religious counterparts at 73.7.

2. Positive Experiences: Those with faith reported a score of 69, compared to 65 for non-religious respondents.

3. Community Basics: Religious individuals notched an impressive 59.7, while non-religious respondents achieved 55.6.

4. Optimism: The religious cohort reported 49.4, slightly ahead of non-religious individuals at 48.4.

5. Civic Engagement: Religious individuals were notably higher at 35.8, compared to 31 for non-religious counterparts.

While religious individuals reported lower scores in negative experiences and physical health indexes, it’s important to note that these disparities were most prominent in highly religious countries. This suggests that cultural context plays a substantial role in shaping these outcomes.

The report emphasises the substantial global impact of even minor differences, revealing that small shifts in index scores affect millions of adults worldwide. For instance, a modest disparity in the Positive Experience Index signifies a considerable number of additional adults experiencing positive outcomes due to their religious affiliation.

The report acknowledges a declining interest and involvement in religion on a global scale, reflecting shifting spiritual practices and landscapes. Traditional religious services are becoming less prevalent, indicating an evolving spiritual landscape.

Jeff Jones, Gallup poll senior editor, acknowledges the complexity of measuring the influence of religion and spirituality on well-being amidst these evolving practices. He notes, “With the changing nature of religious landscapes and spiritual practice, it can make quantitative measurement amid the changes challenging …”

The report also sheds light on societal factors contributing to the decline of religion, such as growing polarisation and tension between religious and non-religious groups. It recognises that the dominance of certain religious groups in society can lead to perceptions of hostility, potentially impacting the well-being of those outside of that group.

As religious freedom and expression continue to evolve, understanding these dynamics becomes crucial in addressing the diverse well-being needs of communities worldwide.

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