It is often claimed by militant atheists that religion is detrimental to the health of individuals, especially their mental well-being. These atheists are stupid, ignorant and/or dishonest. Truly, dishonesty is rife within the atheist community, particularly its militant factions, where it permeates even its highest intellectual order, which includes Godless superstars like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bill Maher, PZ Myers, and so forth, who purposely neglect proof debunking their hypotheses and even manipulate evidence to advance their anti-religious position, agenda and prejudice; their books, papers and so-called documentaries make this abundantly clear.
As I pointed in an earlier post, scientific inquiry has now proven a positive relationship between religion and mental health. While study upon study proves irreligious individuals, like atheists, are more likely to suffer depression and self destructive behavior, including suicide, the opposite has been found true of those with religious affiliation. In fact, the more religious one is the better mental health is usually exhibited. Religion has been proven particularly effective against depression and suicide.
Perhaps the most notable clinical study to date directly investigating suicide among religiously-affiliated and irreligious individuals was published in 2004 by the American Journal of Psychiatry. The Study focused on the suicide rate of religiously-affiliated and irreligious depressed in-patients and found, compared to the former, the latter have “significantly more lifetime suicide attempts…more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder” and perceive “fewer reasons for living” and “fewer moral objections to suicide.” Religion, the study finds, provides a protective, mitigating factor against suicide, particularly because it encourages lower levels of aggression and “greater moral objections to suicide.”
The study concludes by suggesting further examination of how religious affiliation mitigates against “aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.” This is a rather striking conclusion as here is this prominent secular, scientific publication, the world’s most read and cited psychiatric journal, of a profession which is highly atheist, suggesting that religion not simply conventional treatment/medication may serve as at least part of a strategy for coping with mental issues which may otherwise lead to suicidal behavior.
A 2002 study by Sterling C. Hilton in the American Journal of Epidemiology may help answer these latter inquiries. In that study, Hilton focused on young male suicide in Utah, which, at that time, had the ninth highest self-murder rate in the United States. Utah has traditionally had the highest per capita concentration of Mormons in the US, thus many, particularly atheists, surmised a causal link between not only Mormonism, but also religion in general, and suicide. For this reason, Utah is even today sometimes used as evidence for the causal link between religion, depression and suicide. Those who do this, however, do so dishonestly, and simply to propagate their crusade against religion, for not only has there never been evidence in its favor, but it has effectively been debunked by Hilton’s research. The opposite, in fact, has been proven as suicide rates are lower among active participants of the Mormon faith than heir irreligious counterparts.
Hilton found a combination of religiosity, including belief “in a higher being, an afterlife…the sanctity of life” and that “life, in and of itself, is precious,” alongside a comprehensive social support system provided by the Church, were among the main factors leading to lower suicide rates. Hilton agrees that while this study focused on Utah Mormons, affiliation and participation with any religion has proven to yield similar results. Indeed studies continuously find religious involvement and/or affiliation predicts better mental health and stability. For example, a review of the research in this area by Duke Psychiatrist Harold Koenig in 2012, and an earlier one by Koenig, Almedia and Neto in 2006, which concluded “higher levels of religious involvement are positively associated with indicators of psychological well-being…and with less depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior, drug/alcohol use/abuse.” Gallup as well found in 2012 that in the US, the “Very Religious Have Higher Wellbeing Across All Faiths.”
Thus, while Atheist extremists want to destroy religion claiming it does only harm and evil, the objective, scientific evidence proves the contrary; indeed religion saves lives by helping people live better, longer and stronger. It seems the medical establishment is slowly becoming aware of the importance of religion in healthcare for examinations of the potential clinical use of religion as part of mental health therapy are currently being undertaken. For example, by Koenig, Marylin Batez and John Toews.