HATH 509DB 4 Religious Involvement

Read “Religious Involvement and Adult Mortality in the United States: Review and Perspective” by Hummer, et al., 2004, located in the Reading & Study folder in Module/Week 4. Discuss the following points in your thread. Review the Discussion Board Instructions before posting your thread. 

What do the authors’ say? Summarize the findings of this review article as they pertain to religious attendance and mortality.

What do you say? Describe the proximal and distal influences that might explain decreased mortality with increased religious activity?

What do you say? Do the findings hold equally true for public vs. private religious activity? Suggest reasons to explain why this may or may not be true.

What does God say? Offer biblical insight that may be applicable to the relationship between spirituality and health or longevity.

Your thread is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday  of Module/Week 4, and your replies are due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of the same module/week.

In their article, Hummer et al. conclude that religious involvement is related to US adult mortality risks. They arrived at this conclusion by pointing out the obvious interest of the scientific community in the relationship between religious involvement and adult mortality risk in the US.1 The authors also observed in their research that the evidence of their conclusion is strongest for public religious attendance and across religious denominations. On the other hand, they found that the evidence is weakest for religious activity conducted privately.

Furthermore, they point out that the religious involvement appears to influence mortality through social integration—referring to the social ties and support derived from participation in a religious community. They state that those who are religiously involved tend to have more friendship networks and are more socially integrated within their community compared with those who are less religiously involved. Religious involvement also influences through social regulation—a core function of religious communities is to shape the norms of individual members through behavioral rules as defined in sacred teachings, strengthened through convincing messages from congregational leaders/ elders, and solidified through social interactions in the religious community. 

For instance, people who frequently attend religious services and/or belong to particular denominations are less likely to start, or to continue, smoking or be heavy users of alcohol and drugs compared with those who attend infrequently or who belong to less traditional denominations or none at all.1 There is evidence that less frequent attendance at religious services is linked to a 1.29 times odds of mortality compared with individuals who attend more frequently.1 The third important concept of religious influence on mortality is through psychological resources. Hummer et al. believe that there is still much to be learned about how religion impacts mortality. However, the findings so far indicate that “religious involvement—which has social, psychologic, and community dimensions—seems to work through aspects of social regulation, social integration, and spirituality mechanisms to contribute to a lower mortality risk for US adults.”1

The fascinating thing about this article is the fact that science is looking to religion for answers. Who would have thought! Certainly, from the point of view of religion, science is and will always be part of God’s creation, and religion and science can interrelate. At least that is a theory some scholars and religious leaders propose. To quote Professor Ayala of the University of California at Irvine, “Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction if they are properly understood.”2. Another point of view is that science and religion can coexist within a person in a way that both enriches and enlightens the human experience.3 While science helps us understand the natural world, and provides profound insights into material existence, religion complements it by answering the psychological/ philosophical questions humankind seeks that science is unable to answer—why did the universe come into being? What is the meaning of human existence? What happens when we die?3

God in His infinite wisdom created humankind and gave us the manual (the Bible) by which we can live well and long. The Bible records elements of health instructions, which dates to the time of Moses. In today’s world, many researchers and medical doctors are astonished at the accuracy and efficacy of its many provisions. These laws given by God to Moses encompass remarkable rules relating to public health which concerns us even today: water and food contamination, sewage disposal, infectious diseases and health education. These issues were all dealt with in the Mosaic health laws.4 Furthermore, there are several instances in the Bible that shows us God’s insight about how we can have longevity. Starting from when we are little, one of the social regulations given by God is recorded in Exodus 20:12 (NIV) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Another is found in the book of Proverbs 3:1-2 (ESV), “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” 



Hummer RA, Ellison CG, Rogers RG, Moulton BE, Romero RR. Religious involvement and adult mortality in the United States: review and perspective. Southern Medical Journal, 2004; 97(12): 1223+. Available from: Academic OneFile with Full Text Accessed September 20, 2017. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA127069493&asid=500caaab1a2a70a0fb4c678ac61b3c39.

Martin M. Scholar says religion and science can co-exist. NPR News. April 2, 2010. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125499990. Accessed September 20, 2017.

Collins FS. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. New York, NY: Free Press; 2006.

What does the Bible say about health? Got Questions Ministries Web site. https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-health.html. Published 2002. Updated 2017. Accessed September 21, 2017.

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