The Zoomer Report: Churchgoers’ Satisfaction

We already know that people who attend religious services regularly are happier with their lives. Here’s an interesting window on why. A study from the University of Wisconsin says it’s because they create a network of close friends who provide important support.

Researchers found that 28 per cent of people who attend church weekly say they are “extremely satisfied” with life as opposed to only 20 per cent who never attend services. But the satisfaction comes from participating in a religious congregation along with close friends, rather than a spiritual experience, the study found.

According to the research, regular churchgoers who have no close friends in their congregations are no more likely to be very satisfied with their lives than those who never attend church. Feeling close to God, prayer, reading scripture and other religious rituals were not associated with a prediction of greater satisfaction with life. Instead, in combination with a strong religious identity, the more friends at church that participants reported, the greater the likelihood they felt strong satisfaction with life.

The study is based on a survey of more than 3,000 Americans in 2006, and a follow-up a year later. Even in that short time, it found that people who were attending church but then started to go more often reported an improvement in how they felt about life satisfaction. The researchers conclude that people have a deep need for belonging to something greater than themselves.

Most of those surveyed were mainline Protestants, Catholics and Evangelicals, but a small number of Jews, Muslims and were also included.

Next the researchers want to examine whether social networks in organizations such as Rotary Clubs, and other civic volunteer groups could have a similar impact.

Photo © Sean Locke

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Libby ZnaimerAbout The Zoomer Report
Libby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

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