Health and Church Attendance

July 15, 1999

One article joked that "Health enthusiasts may be tempted to put away their running shoes and granola and search for the family Bible." What they were talking about was a new survey that showed that church attenders live longer, in fact up to 14 years longer.

The study provided further evidence that religious belief and church attendance are key indicators of health, social behavior, political leanings, lifestyles, and morality. The study was done by Robert Hummer of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas. The study is significant not only for its findings but because the nation's two largest surveys (the U.S. Census and the seminannual Current Population Survey) don't ask about religion. It appears from this latest survey and other similar surveys that religion is very significant.

Mr. Hummer's team studied 21,000 adult Americans over nine years, looking at their religious behavior and other factors. Even taking other factors into account, non-church attenders had a 50 percent higher risk of mortality than those who attend church frequently. They also found that some causes of death appeared more frequently among non-attenders. "Those who never attend are about four times as likely to die from respiratory disease, diabetes or infectious diseases."

Researchers are finding that religion is becoming a strong predictor of how Americans act. Not only do they find a strong correlation with health, they also find that religious affiliation can be a strong predictor of a person's political persuasion and electoral activities.

Such results are encouraging in light of other studies that find little difference between church attenders and non-attenders. One survey, for example, found that three in four churchgoers regard casino gambling as harmless adult fun.

But this latest survey is encouraging. Going to church is not only good for the soul; it's good for the body.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.