Leaving Religion

Can leaving religion cause more than just spiritual harm? A new study finds it may cause seriously adverse health effects on the mind and body as well.

Just about every major religion shows that there are severe ramifications to abandoning your faith. From no longer being favored by God to living a cursed life, the loss of religion is severely looked upon in churches and writings. Hell is even described as feeling the intensity of the loss of a deity’s divine presence, something that is considered unbearable by the devout. Now there has been a study that seeks to look at the potential health effects of leaving religion.

An Interesting Study on Leaving Religion and Health

The study was undertaken by The Pennsylvania State University graduate students. They understood that there has been a great deal of studies confirming the benefits of having a healthy religion and the social interaction that comes with it. They sought to look at the whether these benefits disappeared once a person left the religion, and if it had specific negative health effects on the individual.

The study looked most closely at religions that had very high rates of better health, and these tended to be ones that had a more inclusive community such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Latter Day Saints. The findings were such that they found that the self-reported health of the people who left these religions was worse than those who had initially had improved health as a benefit of their religion.

A College Student Loses More Than Faith by Leaving Religion

One of the people who have dealt with the negative effects of leaving religion is Curtis Penfold. He recently found himself at odds with the Church of Latter Day Saints which runs Brigham Young University. As a result, he left the school, lost his housing, and then also lost his job on campus. Not only was he out of his college, but he was ostracized by the community that he had felt like he had given so much. Friends and colleagues were now angry at him and he found himself unable to reconcile with his faith.

The sudden loss of faith, friends, and school left Penfold at a loss, and also had significant health impacts. He was subject to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts as a result of the loss of religion in his life. Even though religion is having less of an impact on the United States, it is clear that the lives of those people and their health are closely tied to their faith. In future studies, this concept is going to be explored again to see how changing social values are tied to religion.

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