By extolling freedom of religion in the schools,
President Bill Clinton has raised the level of
debate on the importance of religion to American
The time is ripe for a deeper dialogue on the
contribution of religion to the welfare of the
has always been a religious country. "Its first
Christian inhabitants were only too anxious to
explain what they were doing and why," explains
historian Paul Johnson. "In a way the first American
settlers were like the ancient Israelites. They saw
themselves as active agents of divine providence."4
Today, he adds, "it is generally accepted that more
than half the American people still attend a place
of worship over a weekend, an index of religious
practice unequaled anywhere in the world, certainly
in a great and populous nation."5
At the heart of religious practice is prayer:
Americans pray even more than they go to church.
According to a composite of surveys, 94 percent of
blacks, 91 percent of women, 87 percent of whites,
and 85 percent of men regard themselves as people
who pray regularly. Some 78 percent pray at least
once per week, and 57 percent pray daily. Even among
the 13 percent of the population who call themselves
agnostics or atheists, some 20 percent pray daily.6
When policymakers consider America's grave social
problems, including violent crime and rising
illegitimacy, substance abuse, and welfare
dependency, they should heed the findings in the
professional literature of the social sciences on
the positive consequences that flow from the
practice of religion.7
For example, there is ample evidence that:
The strength of the family unit is intertwined
with the practice of religion. Churchgoers8
are more likely to be married, less likely to be
divorced or single, and more likely to manifest
high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
Church attendance is the most important
predictor of marital stability and happiness.
The regular practice of religion helps poor
persons move out of poverty. Regular church
attendance, for example, is particularly
instrumental in helping young people to escape
the poverty of inner-city life.
Religious belief and practice contribute
substantially to the formation of personal moral
criteria and sound moral judgment.
Regular religious practice generally inoculates
individuals against a host of social problems,
including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock
births, crime, and divorce.
The regular practice of religion also encourages
such beneficial effects on mental health as less
depression (a modern epidemic), more
self-esteem, and greater family and marital
In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug
addiction, and marital breakdown, religious
belief and practice are a major source of
strength and recovery.
Regular practice of religion is good for
personal physical health: It increases
longevity, improves one's chances of recovery
from illness, and lessens the incidence of many
The overall impact of religious practice is
illustrated dramatically in the three most
comprehensive systematic reviews of the field.9
Some 81 percent of the studies showed the positive
benefit of religious practice, 15 percent showed
neutral effects, and only 4 percent showed harm.10
Each of these systematic reviews indicated more than
80 percent benefit, and none indicated more than 10
percent harm. Even this 10 percent may be explained
by more recent social science insights into "healthy
religious practice" and "unhealthy religious
This latter notion will be discussed later -- it is
seen generally by most Americans of religious faith
as a mispractice of religion. Unfortunately, the
effects of unhealthy religious practice are used to
downplay the generally positive influence of
This both distorts the true nature of religious
belief and practice and causes many policymakers to
ignore its positive social consequences.
Religious practice appears to have enormous
potential for addressing today's social problems. As
summarized in 1991 by Allen Bergin, professor of
psychology at Brigham Young University, considerable
evidence indicates that religious involvement
reduces "such problems as sexual permissiveness,
teen pregnancy, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, and
to some extent deviant and delinquent acts, and
increases self esteem, family cohesiveness and
general well being.... Some religious influences
have a modest impact whereas another portion seem
like the mental equivalent of nuclear energy....
More generally, social scientists are discovering
the continuing power of religion to protect the
family from the forces that would tear it down."13
Professor Bergin's summary was echoed two years
later by nationally syndicated columnist William
Raspberry: "Almost every commentator on the current
scene bemoans the increase of violence, lowered
ethical standards and loss of civility that mark
American society. Is the decline of religious
influence part of what is happening to us? Is it not
just possible that anti-religious bias masquerading
as religious neutrality is costing more than we have
been willing to acknowledge?"14
also list the positive effects of religious belief
and practice in reducing such problems as suicide,
substance abuse, divorce, and marital
dissatisfaction. Such evidence indicates clearly
that religious practice contributes significantly to
the quality of American life.
Given this evidence,
Begin a new national debate to help renew the
role of religion in American life;
Ask the General Accounting Office (GAO) to
review the evidence on the beneficial effects of
religious practice in the relevant social
science literature and report its findings to a
national commission formed to promote the
consideration of religious practice among U.S.
Fund federal experiments with school choice that
include religiously affiliated schools;
Pass a sense-of-the-Congress resolution that
data on religious practice are useful for
policymakers and researchers as part of the
public policy debate; and
Mandate a census question on religious practice.
It violates nobody's freedom of religion for
Congress to know the level and intensity of
religious practice in America.
The President should:
Appoint judges who are more sensitive to the
role of religion in public life, with the Senate
ensuring that such is the case by ascertaining
the stand of judges on matters of religion and
its relationship to the Constitution;
Direct the Bureau of the Census to record levels
of religious practice in the census for the year
2000 (time is running out for preparation of the
census questionnaire); and
Issue a directive to all federal agencies making
clear that cooperation between government
entities and the social, medical, and
educational services of faith-based
organizations does not violate separation of
church and state.
The U.S. Supreme Court should:
Review the decisions in which it has changed the
laws of the land by changing commonly held
beliefs regarding the Constitution and religion
and send to Congress those that should have been
the object of legislative action rather than
America's religious leaders should:
Be much more assertive in emphasizing the
contribution of religion to the health of the
nation and in resisting efforts to minimize
religion in public discourse;
Make clear to their congregations that they are
contributing not only to their own welfare, but
also to the well-being of the nation by their
regular attendance at religious worship;
Take special care of the religious formation of
children, especially during the transition
period from childhood to adolescence, when they
are most likely to lose their religious faith;
Recognize that the church in the inner city,
especially the black church, has a vital role to
play in helping its people escape from the
degrading culture of inner-city poverty; and
Encourage education leaders, social scientists,
and social policy practitioners to rely more on
religious belief and worship to achieve social
policy and social work goals.
Religion and Happiness
Ever since Aristotle outlined the goal of a sound
civil order in his Politics,16
social and political scientists and social
psychologists have been particularly interested in
what makes human beings happy. Happy people tend to
be productive and law-abiding. They learn well, make
good citizens, and are invariably pleasant company.
It turns out that the practice of religion has a
significant effect on happiness and an overall sense
of personal well-being. Religious affiliation and
regular church attendance are near the top of the
list for most people in explaining their own
and serve as good predictors of who is most likely
to have this sense of well-being.18
Happiness is greater and psychological stress is
lower for those who attend religious services
Those pursuing a personal relationship with God tend
to have improved relationships with themselves and
A large epidemiological study conducted by the
University of California at Berkeley in 1971 found
that the religiously committed had much less
psychological distress than the uncommitted.21
Rodney Stark, now of the University of Washington,
found the same in a 1970 study: The higher the level
of religious attendance, the less stress suffered
when adversity had to be endured.22
Similarly, in a longitudinal study of 720 adults
conducted by David Williams of the University of
Michigan, regular religious attendance led to much
less psychological distress.23
In 1991, David Larson, adjunct professor at the
Northwestern and Duke University Schools of Medicine
and president of the National Institute of
Healthcare Research, completed a systematic review
of studies on religious commitment and personal
well-being. He found that the relationship is
powerful and positive; overall, psychological
functioning improved following a resumption of
participation in religious worship for those who had
Religion and Family Stability
There is a growing consensus that America needs to
pursue policies aimed at re-strengthening the
family. The beneficial effects of religious worship
on family stability clearly indicate one way to help
accomplish this. Professors Darwin L. Thomas and
Gwendolyn C. Henry of Brigham Young University's
Department of Sociology sum up earlier research25
on the quest by young people for meaning and love:
"Research on love clearly indicates that for many,
love in the social realm cannot clearly be separated
from love that contains a vertical or a divine
element.... Young people see love as the central
aspect of the meaning of life; they believe that
religion is still important in helping form
judgments and attitudes."26
Their conclusion: "Family and religious institutions
need to be studied simultaneously in our efforts to
understand the human condition better."27
"Middletown," one of the century's classic
sociological research projects, studied the lives of
inhabitants of a typical American town, first in the
1920s and for the third time in the 1980s. Based on
the latest round of follow-up research, Howard Bahr
and Bruce Chadwick, professors of sociology at
Brigham Young University, concluded in 1985 that
"There is a relationship between family solidarity
-- family health if you will -- and church
affiliation and activity. Middletown [churchgoing]
members were more likely to be married, remain
married and to be highly satisfied with their
marriages and to have more children.... The great
divide between marriage status, marriage
satisfaction and family size is... between those who
identify with a church or denomination and those who
Four years later, Professor Arland Thornton of the
Institute for Social Research at the University of
Michigan likewise concluded from a Detroit study of
the same relationship that "These data indicate
strong intergenerational transmission of religious
involvement. Attendance at religious services is
also very stable within generations across time."29
"With striking consistency, the most religious among
us [as Americans] place a greater importance on the
full range of family and friendship activities,"
concluded a Connecticut Mutual Life report in 1982.30
A group of Kansas State University professors
reached the same conclusion: "Family commitment is
indeed a high priority in many American families and
it is frequently accompanied by a concomitant factor
of religious commitment."31
In yet another study conducted during the 1970s and
1980s, professors Nick Stinnet of the University of
Alabama and John DeFrain of the University of
Nebraska sought to identify family strengths. From
their nationwide surveys of strong families, they
found that 84 percent identified religion as an
important contributor to the strength of their
It should be noted that the same pattern appears to
hold for African-American families: Parents who
attended church frequently cited the significance of
religion in rearing their children and in providing
Couples with long-lasting marriages indicate that
the practice of religion is an important factor in
marital happiness. Indeed, David Larson's systematic
reviews indicate that church attendance is the most
important predictor of marital stability.34
Others have found the same result.35
Twenty years ago it was first noted that very
religious women achieve greater satisfaction in
sexual intercourse with their husbands than do
moderately religious or non-religious women.36
The Sex in America study published in 1995,
and conducted by sociologists from the University of
Chicago and the State University of New York at
Stonybrook, also showed very high sexual
satisfaction among "conservative" religious women.37
From the standpoint of contemporary American media
culture, this may appear strange or
counter-intuitive, but the empirical evidence is
Divorce and Cohabitation
Regular church attendance is the critical factor in
marital stability across denominations and overrides
effects of doctrinal teaching on divorce. For
instance, black Protestants and white Catholics, who
share similarly high church attendance rates, have
been shown to have similarly low divorce rates.38
Furthermore, when marital separation occurs,
reconciliation rates are higher among regular church
attendees, and highest when both spouses have the
same high level of church attendance.39
Findings on the other end of the marital spectrum
reinforce the point: A 1993 national survey of 3,300
men aged 20-39 found that those who switch partners
most are those with no religious convictions.40
Significantly, cohabitation before marriage poses a
high risk to later marital stability,41
and premarital cohabitation is much less common
among religious Americans. "The cohabitation rate is
seven times higher among persons who seldom or never
attend religious services compared to persons who
frequently attend," writes David Larson of the
National Institute of Healthcare Research. "Women
who attended religious services once a week were
only one-third as likely to cohabit as those who
attended church services less than once a month."
Furthermore, "If the mother frequently attended
religious services, both sons and daughters were
only 50 percent as likely to cohabit as adult
children whose mothers were not actively religious."42
Rockford Institute President Allan Carlson
summarizes the pattern: "Social scientists are
discovering the continuing power of religion to
protect the family from the forces that would tear
The fact is that too many social scientists have
failed to appreciate the significance of research on
the relationship between family and religion. As
another researcher of the same period concludes, "We
may have underestimated this 'silent majority' and
it is only fair to give them equal time."44
The centrality of stable married family life in
avoiding such problems as crime,45
has become indisputable. If such a stable family
life is linked closely to a lively religious life,
as these studies indicate, then the peace and
happiness of the nation depend significantly on a
renewal of religious practice and belief.
Religion and Physical Health
In public health circles, the level of educational
attainment is held to be the key demographic
predictor of physical health. For over two decades,
however, the level of religious practice has been
shown convincingly to be equally important.
As early as 1972, researchers from the Johns Hopkins
University School of Public Health found that
cardiovascular diseases, the leading killers of
older people, were reduced significantly in early
old age by a lifetime of regular church attendance.
By contrast, non-attendees had higher mortality
rates for such other diseases as cirrhosis of the
liver, emphysema, and arteriosclerosis, in addition
to other cardiovascular diseases and even suicide.48
Research on mortality patterns among the poor
confirmed a decade later that those who went to
church regularly lived longer.49
Since then, other studies have reinforced this
Blood pressure, a key factor in cardiovascular
health, is reduced significantly by regular church
attendance, on average by 5mm of pressure.51
Given that reducing blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm also
reduces the mortality rate by 10 to 20 percent for
any given population,52
a reduction of 5 mm is a very significant public
health achievement by any standard. For those over
55 years of age, the average decrease was 6 mm.
Among those who smoked -- a practice that increases
blood pressure -- regular church attendance
decreased the risk of early stroke by 700 percent.53
Nor are the health benefits of religious commitment
confined to the cardiovascular system. In 1987, a
major review of 250 epidemiological health research
studies -- studies which examined the relationship
between health and religion and measured such
additional outcomes as colitis, cancers of many
different types, and longevity measures -- concluded
that, in general, religious commitment improves
A 1991 study of two national samples55
also concluded that the degree to which people
prayed and participated in religious services
significantly affected their health status,
regardless of age.56
In what must be one of the most unusual experiments
in medical history, Dr. Robert B. Byrd, a
cardiologist then at the University of California at
San Francisco Medical School, conducted a
random-sample, double-blind study of the effects of
prayer -- not by the patients but for
the patients -- on the outcome of cardiac surgery.
The study was published in 1982. None of the
patients knew they were being prayed for, none of
the attending doctors and nurses knew who was being
prayed for and who was not, and those praying had no
personal contact with the patients before or during
the experiment. Outcomes for the two sets of
patients differed significantly: Those prayed for ha
d noticeably fewer post-operative congestive heart
failures, fewer cardiopulmonary arrests, less
pneumonia, and less need for antibiotics.57
To date, this study has not been replicated, though
the intriguing results challenge the academic and
medical community to verify or disprove them.
Religion and Social Breakdown
The practice of religion has beneficial effects on
behavior and social relations: on illegitimacy,
crime and delinquency, welfare dependency, alcohol
and drug abuse, suicide, depression, and general
One of the most powerful of all factors in
preventing out-of-wedlock births is the regular
practice of religious belief. Given the growing
crisis in out-of-wedlock births, their effects,58
and the huge social and economic costs to national
and state budgets, this should be of major interest
It has long been known that intensity of religious
practice is closely related to adolescent virginity
and sexual restraint and control. This general
finding, replicated again and again,59
also holds true specifically for black teenage
the group with the highest teen pregnancy rates
among all demographic subgroups.61
Reviews of the literature demonstrate that, nearly
without exception, religious practice sharply
reduces the incidence of premarital intercourse.62
The reverse is also true: The absence of religious
practice accompanies sexual permissiveness and
premarital sex. This is confirmed in numerous
including a 1991 analysis of the federal
government's National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.64
The impact of religious practice on teenage sexual
behavior also can be seen at the state level: States
with higher levels of aggregate religiousness have
lower rates of teenage pregnancy.65
In an important study published in 1987, a group of
professors from the Universities of Georgia, Utah,
and Wyoming found that the main cause of problematic
adolescent sexual behaviors and attitudes is not
only family dynamics and processes, as previously
thought, but the absence of religious behavior and
affiliation. They further concluded that healthy
family dynamics and practices are themselves caused
to a powerful degree by the presence or absence of
religious beliefs and practices.66
The same results also hold true in international
As with drugs, alcohol, and crime, the religious
behavior of the mother is one of the strongest
predictors of the daughter's sexual attitudes.68
It also has long been known in the social sciences
that daughters of single mothers are more likely to
engage in premarital sexual behavior during
These mothers are more frequently permissive in
their sexual attitudes, and religion for them has
less importance than it has for mothers in
These findings also have been replicated.71
The religious practices of parents, particularly
their unity on religious issues, powerfully
influence the behavior of children. Thus, for
policymakers interested in reducing teenage (and
older) out-of-wedlock births, the lesson is clear:
Religious belief and regular worship reduce the
likelihood of this form of family breakdown. One
faith-based sex education course that included both
mothers and daughters, for example, was aimed
specifically at reducing the teenage pregnancy rate.
The results were notably successful: Out-of-wedlock
births among the at-risk population were almost
Crime and Delinquency
A review of the small amount of research done on the
relationship between crime and religion shows that
states w ith more religious populations tend to have
fewer homicides and fewer suicides.73
A four-year longitudinal, stratified, random-sample
study of high school students in the Rocky Mountain
region, published in 1975, demonstrated that
religious involvement significantly decreased drug
use, delinquency, and premarital sex, and also
A 1989 study of midwestern high school students
replicated these findings.75
Similarly, young religious adults in Canada were
found in a 1979 study to be less likely to use or
sell narcotics, to gamble, or to destroy property.76
What is true for youth is also true for adults.77
Religious behavior, as opposed to mere attitude or
affiliation, is associated with reduced crime.78
This has been known in the social science literature
for over 20 years.79
In research conducted in the late 1980s --
controlling for family, economic, and religious
backgrounds -- a research team from the University
of Nevada found that black men who eventually ended
up in prison and those who did not came respectively
from two different groups: those who did not go to
church, or stopped going around ten years of age,
and those who went regularly.80
This failure of faith at the onset of adolescence
parallels the pattern found among those who become
alcoholics or drug addicts. Clearly, the family's
inability to inspire regular religious worship among
emerging young adults is a sign of internal
In his classic study The Protestant Ethic and the
Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber, the preeminent
German sociologist of the first half of the 20th
century, demonstrated the connection between
religious practice and financial well-being among
Protestants. Other work on the same theme shows that
this is not confined to Protestants, but that it
applies across a longer period of history and across
This link between religion and prosperity has
important implications for the poor. In 1985, for
instance, Richard B. Freeman of the National Bureau
of Economic Research reported that:
[Church attendance] is associated with substantial
differences in the behavior of [black male youths
from poverty-stricken inner-city neighborhoods] and
thus in their chances to "escape" from inner city
poverty. It affects allocation of time,
school-going, work activity and the frequency of
socially deviant activity.... It is important to
recognize that our analysis has identified an
important set of variables that separate successful
from unsuccessful young persons in the inner city.
There is a significant number of inner city youth,
readily identifiable, who succeed in escaping that
pathology of inner-city slum life.81
Ongoing studies by Professor Ranald Jarrell of the
Department of Education at Arizona State University
West show the power of religious belief and practice
in encouraging a spirit of optimism among socially
at-risk but advancing children. The subjects are
students at the De La Salle Academy, an independent
school in the upper west side of Manhattan serving
primarily poor inner-city black and Hispanic middle
school children who show substantial academic
promise. Within this group, the highest
concentration of pessimists is found among students
with the lowest attendance at church. Those who
attend church weekly or more frequently, on the
other hand, exhibit the following profiles:
They are more optimistic about their futures;
They have better relationships with their
They are more likely to dismiss racism as an
obstacle to reaching their goals;
They are more likely to have serious and
realistic goals for their futures;
They are more likely to see the world as a
friendly place in which they can achieve, rather
than as a hostile world with powerful forces
arrayed against them; and
They are more likely to see themselves as in
control of their own futures, whereas those who
do not attend church are more likely to see
themselves as victims of oppression.82
Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth
(NLSY), the best national sample for tracking the
development of America's youth from the late 1970s,
clearly indicate the difference regular religious
practice makes for those who grew up in poverty in
the 1970s and 1980s. Among those who attended church
weekly in both 1979 and 1982, average family income
in 1993 was $37,021; among those who never attended
church in 1979 or 1982, however, average family
income in 1993 was $24,361 -- a difference of
Other studies also show that growing up in an intact
family correlates significantly and positively with
However, the NLSY data show that regular religious
practice benefits both those who grow up in intact
families and those who grow up in broken
families. The other differences remain, but the
positive impact of religion on both groups is
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
The relationship between religious practice and the
moderate use or avoidance of alcohol is well
regardless of whether denominational beliefs
prohibit the use of alcohol.87
According to general studies, the higher the level
of religious involvement, the less likely the use or
abuse of alcohol.88
Persons who abuse alcohol rarely have a strong
In their study of the development of alcohol abuse,
David Larson and William P. Wilson, professors of
psychiatry at Northwestern University School of
Medicine, found that nine out of ten alcoholics had
lost interest in religion in their teenage years, in
sharp contrast to teenagers generally, among whom
interest in religion increased by almost 50 percent
and declined by only 14 percent.90
Robert Coombs and his colleagues at the University
of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine
found that alcohol abuse is 300 percent higher among
those who do not attend church.91
Drug and alcohol use is lowest in the most
conservative religious denominations and highest in
non-religious groups, while liberal church groups
have use rates just slightly lower than those for
non-religious groups. But for all groups, religious
commitment correlates with absence of drug abuse.92
Significantly, involvement in any religious
denomination or group generally decreases the level
of drug use regardless of whether the denomination
teaches against the use of alcohol, although
denominations that teach against any use of drugs or
alcohol exhibit the highest rates of drug avoidance.
Among traditional American religions, Mormons have
the highest denominational association between
religious doctrine and drug avoidance; they also
have the most restrictive proscriptions against drug
use. On the other hand, Roman Catholics have the
highest alcohol use rate; their religion condemns
the abuse of alcohol but does not proscribe its use.93
Attendance at church and related religious
activities has special significance for drug use
among teenagers. In a 1985 study of young girls aged
between 9 and 17, less than 10 percent of those who
reported attending religious services weekl y or
more often indicated any drug or alcohol use,
compared with 38 percent of all those studied.94
The parental attitude to religion also is important
in dealing with alcohol use. A 1985 study indicated
that if the mother and father have deep, competing
differences toward religious belief and practice,
their children are more likely to use or abuse
alcohol than are children whose parents do not
differ on matters of religion. Conversely, if their
parents' religious beliefs and practices are
similar, children are far more likely to abstain
from alcohol or to drink with moderation.95
Almost three decades before these findings, Orville
Walters, then a research fellow at the Menninger
School of Psychiatry in Topeka, Kansas, found that
alcoholics who came from religious backgrounds
tended to have mothers who were highly religious but
fathers who were more non-religious.96
For over four decades it has been known,97
that alcoholics with a religious background or
strong religious beliefs are much more likely to
seek help and treatment. Indeed, Alcoholics
Anonymous, the major organization combating
alcoholism in America, has known for over half a
century that the most effective element in its
program is its religious or spiritual component.99
David Larson of the National Institute for
Healthcare Research notes: "Even after alcoholism
has been established, religion is often a powerful
force in achieving abstinence. Alcoholics Anonymous
(AA) uses religion, invoking a Higher Power to help
alcoholics recover from addiction."100
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Paralleling the research on alcohol addiction, an
early review of studies of drug addiction found a
lack of religious commitment to be a predictor of
who abuses drugs.101
Many more recent studies replicate this finding.102
As in so many other research studies, the best
measurement of religious commitment is frequency of
church attendance: "Overall church attendance was
more strongly related to [less] drug use than was
intensity of religious feelings."103
This is true for both males and females. According
to Jerald G. Bachman of the Institute for Social
Research at the University of Michigan, "Factors we
found to be most important in predicting use of
marijuana and other drugs during the late 1970's
remained most important during the early 1980's.
Drug use is below average among those with strong
The more powerfully addictive the drug being
considered, the more powerful is the impact of
church attendance in preventing its use.105
In results almost identical to those for alcoholics,
researchers at the National Institute of Drug Abuse,
a section of the National Institutes of Health and
the nation's premier drug abuse research facility,
found in their interviews of narcotic addicts that
"the addict had neither current religious preference
nor a history of attending religious services.... In
addition... the addicts' fathers were much less
involved in regular or frequent religious practices,
than were a parallel group of control fathers....
Religiously, the mother was far more involved than
her husband, the difference in regular religious
participation between the addict's parents being
twice that for the control's parents....
Religiously, the addicts were significantly less
involved in reading the Bible, and praying." They
also had far more frequent loss of interest in
religion during adolescence.106
Louis A. Cancellaro of the Department of Psychiatry
at the Veterans Administration in Johnson City,
Tennessee, writes that, "Like their fathers, addicts
are less religiously involved than their normal
peers, and during adolescence, less frequently make
decisions either to become more interested in
religion or to commit themselves to a re ligious
philosophy to live by."107
In reviewing the religious treatment of addicts,
research psychiatrists at the Duke University
Department of Psychiatry concluded in 1992: "[The]
role of religious commitment and religiously
oriented treatment programs can be significant
factors which ought to be considered and included
when planning a mix of appropriate treatment
alternatives.... Perhaps the greatest advantage of
religious programs is their recourse to churches as
a support system.... Religious treatment programs
are not suitable for everyone. For those men and
women who can accept the creeds, rituals, and
commitments required of such programs there seem to
be certain advantages."108
The practice of religion reduces the rate of
suicide, both in the United States and abroad.109
In fact, the rate of church attendance predicts the
suicide rate better than any other factor (including
unemployment, traditionally regarded as the most
powerful variable). Those who attend church
frequently are four times less likely to commit
suicide than those who never attend. Conversely, the
national decline in church attendance is associated
with a heightened suicide rate; fluctuations in
church attendance rates in the 1970s paralleled the
suicide rates for different subgroups: whites,
blacks, men, and women.110
Steven Stack, professor of sociology at Pennsylvania
State University, in a landmark 1985 study on the
demography of suicide has found that "Families and
religion change together over time.... As the
importance of the domestic-religious institutional
complex declines, the study finds a rise in the rate
of suicide, both for the general population and for
the age cohort at the center of the decline, the
In another, earlier study, Stack broke new ground in
finding that the effect of unemployment in causing
suicide is greatl y diminished when religious
behavior is factored into the equation.112
In inter-state comparisons, higher levels of church
attendance are associated with lower rates of
The same holds true in international comparisons.114
Religion appears to reduce the incidence of
depression among those with medical problems. For
instance, University of Michigan Professor of
Sociology David Williams conducted a randomized
survey of 720 adults suffering from leg and hip
injuries in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1990. Those
who attended religious services regularly were less
depressed and less distressed by life events than
those who did not. This finding held across age,
race, socioeconomic status, educational attainment,
and religious affiliation. Religious affiliation
alone did not have these effects, but religious
Younger people also tend to experience fewer of the
anxieties of growing up if they are religious. For
instance, both male and female Texas high-schoolers
found that religious beliefs gave meaning to their
lives and reduced the incidence of depression among
The absence of self-esteem weakens the personality
and puts the person at greater risk for crime,
addictions, and other social maladies.117
In all religious denominations, psychological
weaknesses decrease as religious orthodoxy
Among college students, for instance, the practice
of religion was shown in 1969 to have a positive
effect on mental health;119
students involved with campus ministries were much
healthier and made much less use of mental health
Significantly, self-esteem is linked to a person's
image of God. Those with high self-esteem think of
God primarily as loving, while those with low
self-esteem think of God primarily as punitive.120
This was observed by Carl Jung, one of the most
influential pioneers of modern psychology and
psychotherapy: "Among all my patients in the second
half of my life... there has not been one whose
problem in the last resort was not that of finding a
religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that
every one of them fell ill because he had lost that
which the living religions of every age have given
their followers and none of them has been really
healed who did not regain his religious outlook."121
Other evidence exists that people with a religious
commitment, whether young or old, who become
emotionally or psychologically distressed are much
more likely to seek help.122
Understanding "Intrinsic" and "Extrinsic" Religious
Recent advances in the investigation of religious
behavior have led social scientists to distinguish
between two distinct categories or orientations:
"intrinsic" and "extrinsic." Intrinsic practice is
God-oriented and based on beliefs which transcend
the person's own existence. Research shows this form
of religious practice to be beneficial. Extrinsic
practice is self-oriented and characterized by
outward observance, not internalized as a guide to
behavior or attitudes. The evidence suggests this
form of religious practice is actually more harmful
than no religion: Religion directed toward some end
other than God, or the transcendent, typically
degenerates into a rationalization for the pursuit
of other ends such as status, personal security,
self justification, or sociability.
The difference between these two forms of religious
practice have implications for future research and
for the interpretation of all research on religious
practice. There is a radical difference between what
religious people know to be conversion of the spirit
or heart and simply conforming external behavior for
its own sake, or for benefits derived from religious
William James, professor of psychology at Harvard
University in the early 1900s and a pioneer in the
psychological study of religious behavior, was the
first to make the social science distinction between
the two forms of religious practice. Gordon Allport,
his successor at Harvard in the late 1960s,
concluded: "I feel equally sure that mental health
is facilitated by an intrinsic, but not an
extrinsic, religious orientation."124
The two orientations lead to two very different sets
of psychological effects. For instance, "intrinsics"
have a greater sense of responsibility and greater
internal control, are more self-motivated, and do
better in their studies. By contrast, "extrinsics"
are more likely to be dogmatic, authoritarian, and
less responsible, to have less internal control, to
be less self-directed, and to do less well in their
Intrinsics are more concerned with moral standards,
conscientiousness, discipline, responsibility, and
consistency than are extrinsically religious people.126
They also are more sensitive to others and more open
to their own emotions. By contrast, extrinsics are
more self-indulgent, indolent, and likely to lack
dependability. For example, the most racially
prejudiced people turn out to be those who go to
and those who are extrinsic in their practice of
These findings have been replicated129
in a number of different forms.130
The contrasting effects show up in college students.
Intrinsically religious students tend to have
internal locus of control, intrinsic motives, and a
higher grade point average.131
By contrast, a 1980 study indicated that
extrinsically religious students were more dogmatic
and authoritarian, less responsible and less
motivated, had less internal locus of control, and
had a lower grade point average. Intrinsically
religious students were found to have a greater
concern for moral standards and to be more
conscientious, disciplined, responsible, and
consistent, while the extrinsic were more
self-indulgent, more indolent, and less dependable.132
In general, intrinsics are less anxious about life's
ups and downs, while extrinsics are more anxious.
Further, the religious beliefs and practices of
intrinsics are more integrated; for instance, they
are more likely to worship publicly as well as pray
privately. By contrast, those who pray privately but
do not worship publicly tend to have a higher level
of general anxiety -- a characteristic of extrinsics
In an ironic set of findings on anxiety about death,
extrinsics fared worst of all: worse than intrinsics
and worse than those without religious beliefs.134
From a purely social science standpoint, the
intrinsic form of religion is thus good and
desirable, and the extrinsic form is harmful.
Religious teachers, without being utilitarian, would
Religion and the Social Sciences
There is a tension between practitioners of social
science and religious belief.136
Darwin L. Thomas and Gwendolyn C. Henry, professors
of sociology at Brigham Young University, write:
"From the work of Freud and others, much of the
early history of the social sciences is
characterized by the expectation that involvement in
and reliance upon the religious institution will be
associated with people who have a low sense of
There is repeated evidence that much the same
hostility to religion -- a hostility at variance
with the attitude of the vast majority of Americans
-- persists among members of America's professional
Stephen L. Carter, professor of law at Yale
University, points out that "One sees a trend in our
political and legal cultures toward treating
religious beliefs as arbitrary and unimportant, a
trend supported by rhetoric that implies that there
is something wrong with religious devotion. More and
more, our culture seems to take the position that
believing deeply in the tenets of one's faith
represents a kind of mystical irrationality,
something that thoughtful, public-spirited American
citizens would do better to avoid."139
However, the available evidence renders such
Professor David Larson of Duke University Medical
School draws attention to similar biases in the
mental health professions. Consider The
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the standard
reference manual for the classification of mental
illnesses, which essentially defines the practice of
psychiatrists, clinical psychology, and clinical
social work and is central to the practice,
research, and financing of these professions. In the
third edition, religious examples were used only as
illustrations in discussions of mental illness, such
as delusions, incoherence, and illogical thinking.
The latest edition has corrected this bias.
Consider also the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality
Inventory, one of the most widely used of all
psychological tests. In the MMPI, all the positive
religion-connected traits -- self-discipline,
altruism, humility, obedience to authority,
conventional morality -- are weighted negatively.
Thus, to choose the self-description "I am
orthodoxly religious" is to detract from one's
mental health standing. Conversely, several traits
that religious people would regard as diminishing
themselves, at least in some situations --
self-assertion, self-expression, and a high opinion
of oneself -- are weighted positively.140
The latest editions of the MMPI have removed the
Despite this general hostility among social science
and mental health professionals, the empirical
evidence shows religion to be a very powerful and
positive part of everyday life. Patrick McNamara,
professor of sociology at the University of New
Mexico, explains the difference between social
scientists and religiously affiliated people
generally: "Sociologists tend to see concern for
personal challenge -- e.g. to get one's own moral
life in order -- as somehow secondary to social
challenge or the effort to identify and criticize
those socioeconomic structures that inhibit the
individual's own group from attaining a fuller human
McNamara continues: "In [the] typical social science
analysis, the demands of the inner life are
neglected and personal agency and autonomy exercised
in the choice to examine one's own life and put it
in order according to an internalized ethic of
repentance... is not acknowledged."142
Despite the attitude of many professionals, Gallup
surveys continue to indicate that one-third of the
American people regard religious commitment as the
most important dimension in their lives. Another
third regard religion as a very important, though
not the single most dominant, factor in their lives.143
Totally secular approaches to many issues -- public
policy, psychotherapy, and education -- use an alien
framework for this two-thirds of the population. The
plain fact is that religion plays a powerful role in
the personal and social lives of most Americans. It
is a role that should be understood clearly by the
professions, by policymakers, and by the media.
From many other areas of social science research --
family dynamics, group dynamics, marital dynamics --
positive reciprocal relationships with others are
known to be powerful across a host of areas similar
to those reviewed in this paper: stress, ability to
relate with others in general, productivity, and
learning, to name just a few. The core of the
religious commitment is an intention to have a
positive relationship with another Being, a
transcendent and therefore all-available Being.
Viewed in this fashion, the documented effects of
religious commitment are not mysterious, but an
extension of the effects which we know arise from
positive relations between human beings. Thus, the
findings on religion fit with the general corpus of
what is known about relationships from the existing
body of social science research.
The evidence indicates strongly that it is a good
social policy to foster the widespread practice of
religion. It is bad social policy to block it. The
widespread practice of religious beliefs is one of
America's greatest national resources. It
strengthens individuals, families, communities, and
society as a whole. It significantly affects
educational and job attainment and reduces the
incidence of such major social problems as
out-of-wedlock births, drug and alcohol addiction,
crime, and delinquency. No other dimension of the
nation's life, other than the health of the family
(which the data show also is tied powerfully to
religious practice) should be of more concern to
those who guide the future course of the United
The original intent of the Founding Fathers was to
bar the establishment by the federal government of a
state-approved religion, not to bar religion from
the operations of the state. Thomas Jefferson made
this distinction very clear in the Virginia Statute
for Religious Freedom (January 16, 1786):
We, the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that
no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any
religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor
shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or
burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise
suffer, on account of his religious opinions or
belief: but that all men shall be free to profess,
and by argument to maintain, their opinions in
matters of religion, and that the same shall in no
wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil
George Washington summed up the importance of
religion to the new nation with particular eloquence
in his farewell address:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to
political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim
the tribute of patriotism who should labor to
subvert these great pillars of human happiness --
these firmest props of the duties of men and
citizens. The mere politician, equally with the
pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A
volume could not trace all their connections with
private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked,
Where is the security for property, for reputation,
for life, if the sense of religious obligation
desert the oaths which are the instruments of
investigation in courts of justice? And let us with
caution indulge the supposition that morality can be
maintained without religion. Whatever may be
conceded to the influence of refined education on
minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience
both forbid us to expect that national morality can
prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
'Tis substantially true that virtue or morality is a
necessary spring of popular government. The rule
indeed extends with more or less force to every
species of free government. Who that is a sincere
friend to it can look with indifference upon
attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?145
A policy can be friendly to the general practice of
religion, and to the many different faiths in a
pluralistic society, without in any way implying the
establishment of a particular religion. Federal
policies encourage many other institutions: the
marketplace, education, medicine, science, and the
arts. Even religion itself is explicitly encouraged
by the tax treatment of contributions to religious
institutions. It makes no sense, therefore, not to
encourage the resource that most powerfully
addresses the major social problems confronting the
nation. Congress and the President can help to
accomplish this by acting decisively in at least six
Congress, and the Senate in particular, should
lead a new national debate on the renewed role
of religion in American life. With his recent
guidance to school administrators on prayer in
school, President Clinton has opened the
national discussion. The Senate once was the
chamber for debate on the great issues of the
day. It is time for it to take up that role
again on the relationship between the practice
of religion and the life of the nation, on the
health of America's families and the content of
America needs a major national debate on the true
role of religion in a free and pluralistic society.
For many decades, the once-prominent place of
religion in society has been eroded. Religious
leaders, who should be in the forefront of moral and
spiritual renewal, have been cowed into a strange
timidity. Americans of religious belief should not
be bullied into believing that in all things related
to the public good, religion is to remain off
limits. The constitutional freedom of religion does
not mean the constitutional barring of religion from
the public square.
Congress should pass a resolution affirming that
data on religious practice are important to the
nation, to policymakers, and to the research
needed to inform the public debate. The
gathering of data that touch on religious
practice often is blocked in research on social
issues funded by the federal government.146
Because government funds a huge proportion of
the nation's funded social research, this has a
chilling effect. But the relationship between
religious practice and the social issues under
investigation by government, such as
out-of-wedlock births, crime and delinquency,
addiction, economic dependency, medical and
psychiatric problems, and learning capacity,
should be explored. A sense-of-the-Congress
resolution would remove the excuse that it is
not permissible for federally funded research to
touch on this aspect of life.
Congress should mandate a census question on
religious practice. The census for the year 2000
ought to ask about frequency of attendance at
church or synagogue. It violates nobody's
freedom of religion for Congress to know the
level and intensity of religious worship in the
United States. Also, many of the annual sample
surveys conducted by the Bureau of the Census
would be significantly better informed if
similar information were gathered in those
Congress should commission research on the
relationship between regular church attendance
and social issues. This research should focus on
the social issues which continue to increase the
burden borne by the American taxpayer, including
crime, drug use, health of the elderly,
out-of-wedlock births, and poverty.
Congress should fund federal experiments with
school choice that include choice of religiously
affiliated schools. To deny financial support to
parents who cannot afford to send their children
to religiously oriented schools is to deny such
education to those children who may need it most
and confine it to those rich enough to afford
it. The United States of America and the
now-defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
are the only major modern states to deny funding
to faith-based schools.
The President should appoint, and the Senate
should confirm, judges who are sensitive to the
role of religion in public life. Religion should
not be crowded out of every activity in which
government is involved. And yet, this is
precisely what has been happening for the last
30 years as government has encroached more and
more on virtually every area of American life:
family, school, and marketplace. This does not
make sense for any society -- and it has
Columnist William Raspberry has put his finger on
the problem. In his historic majority opinion in the
1947 Everson v. Board of Education case (330
U.S. 1), notes Raspberry, Justice Hugo Black wrote
that government is forbidden to "pass laws which aid
any religion, aid all religion, or prefer one
religion over another."
The first and third elements in the Black
proscription seem to me to jibe with the
"establishment" clause of the Constitution. The
middle one suggests that the only proper position of
government is hostility to religion -- which seems
to be the prevailing view among civil libertarians
and a majority of the Supreme Court.147
This calls to mind the words of the late William O.
Douglas, one of the most liberal of Supreme Court
Justices, who wrote in the 1950s:
We are a religious people whose institutions
presuppose a Supreme Being. We guarantee the freedom
to worship as one chooses. [When] the state
encourages religious instruction or cooperates with
religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of
public events to sectarian needs, [it] respects the
religious nature of our people and accommodates the
public service to their spiritual needs. To hold
that it may not would be to find in the Constitution
a requirement that the government show a callous
indifference to religious groups. That would be
preferring those who believe in no religion over
those who do believe.148
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The Senate should ask all future candidates for
federal court appointments to clarify their opinions
regarding both the role of religion in the life of
the body politic and their understanding of the
Founding Fathers' intent on this issue.
But this problem is far too important to be left to
government. America's religious leaders and
individual citizens also must act:
They must draw attention to the enormous and
beneficial effects on society of the true
practice of religion. As leaders of the nation's
religious communities, they should assert their
right to be regarded as critical in the
nurturing of stable marriages and healthy
families. Religion performs the foundational
work that ensures the success of secular
society's other four basic institutions: family,
school, marketplace, and government.
They must emphasize the need for religious
formation. While the social works of mercy
carried out by religious congregations will be
needed more and more to repair the damage from
the breakdown of the family, only a religious
institution can give a religious orientation to
those who are searching for answers to the
mysteries of human life: love and suffering in
birth, marriage, family life, and death.
Religious beliefs help the individual acquire
central organizing principles for life and an
understanding of God. Aided by this sense and
these principles, an individual can avoid the
unnecessary suffering that stems from bad
choices and attain the benefits that flow from
good choices followed steadily through life.
Today, schools are forbidden to participate in
this critical work. Only religious leaders can
provide this all-important service to society.
They must take special care of the religious
formation of children at risk of losing their
faith in God, especially during the transition
period from childhood to adolescence. The
empirical research indicates that there is a
critical stage in the development of young
adults, from around ten years of age through
later adolescence, during which they decide
whether they will engage in the religious
dialogue of searching for ultimate truths and
meaning. The young adolescent who turns away
from religion at this stage may well lose his
anchoring in the community and is at greater
risk for a host of problems that can subvert his
personal happiness for a lifetime. Increased
attention to this aspect of religious ministry
will yield great benefits to the nation. Of
particular concern to public policy leaders are
the problems that plague America's inner cities:
out-of-wedlock births, addiction, and crime.
These neighborhoods need the benefits of
religious belief and practice. They are
"mission" territories that beckon loudly.
They must use the ability of inner-city
churches, especially black churches, to help
low-income African-Americans escape from the
degrading culture of inner-city poverty. Many
religious leaders, with the best of intentions,
have concentrated on the material aspects of
their work, forgetting that the most powerful
help they can give is in the spiritual
dimension, and that this has a significant
effect on material well-being. Regular church
attendance will do more to help a child get out
of poverty than anything else the religious
leader can provide. And it will transform the
community if most people can be persuaded to
become church members.
The available evidence clearly demonstrates that
regular religious practice is both an individual and
social good. It is a powerful answer to many of our
most significant social problems, some of which,
including out-of-wedlock births, have reached
catastrophic proportions. Furthermore, it is
available to all, and at no cost.
is at a crossroads. Political leaders as diverse as
President Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Robert
Dole, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich all have
articulated popular concerns and fears about the
level of the breakdown of American society.149
Almost simultaneously, Americans are becoming aware
of the fundamental contribution that married family
life and regular religious practice can make to
preserving that society.
For the sake of the nation's future health, it is
time to redirect public policy so that these two
vast resources, instead of being weakened further,
can be rejuvenated and encouraged. Many of the goals
of social policy and social work can be attained,
indirectly and powerfully, through the practice of
religion. None of this invalidates education or
social work, which operate at a different level of
the human condition. However, as demands for social
work outstrip (and give every indication of far
outstripping) social work resources, it is good to
know that the practice of religion is a powerful
The practice of religion is good for individuals,
families, states, and the nation. It improves
health, learning, economic well-being, self-control,
self-esteem, and empathy. It reduces the incidence
of social pathologies, such as out-of-wedlock
births, crime, delinquency, drug and alcohol
addiction, health problems, anxieties, and
The Founding Fathers, in their passionate love of
freedom, promoted the freedom of all Americans to
practice their religious beliefs, but Congress and
the courts have crowded religion out of the public
square. It is time to bring it back. Religious
practice can and should be factored into the
planning and debate on the nation's urgent social
problems. Americans cannot build their future
without drawing on the strengths that come to them
from the practice of their religious beliefs.
The widespread practice of religious beliefs can
only benefit the nation, and the task of
reintegrating religious practice into American life
while protecting and respecting the rights of
non-practice -- rights that, despite persistent
demagoguery on the subject, remain totally
unthreatened -- is one of the nation's most
important tasks. Academics of good will can do much
in this area, and history will look kindly on those
who help America achieve this wonderful balance.
The author wishes to draw special attention to the
major initial source of information on the research
done on religion in the social and medical sciences:
David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, "The Forgotten
Factor in Physical and Mental Health: What Does the
Research Show?" (Rockville, Md.: National Institute
for Healthcare Research, 1994). David Larson is one
of the premier researchers in the field and serves
as president of the National Institute for
Healthcare Research, as well as adjunct faculty
member at the Northwestern University and Duke
University Medical Schools.
Office of the Press Secretary, The White House,
"Remarks by the President on Religious Liberty in
America at James Madison High School, Vienna,
Virginia, July 12, 1995."
Paul Johnson, "God and the Americans," Commentary,
January 1995, pp. 25-45.
Kenneth L. Woodward et al., "Talking to God,"
Newsweek, January 6, 1992, pp. 39ff.
Many studies cited herein are 10-20 years old. The
need to go back so far reflects the paucity of
serious research in the area of religion relative to
studies in the other four major institutions:
family, education, the economy, and government. In
the author's opinion, it also reflects the tension
between religion and the social sciences. See
"Religion and the Social Sciences," infra.
Throughout this study, "church" and "churchgoer" are
used in the generic sense to indicate church,
synagogue, or any other place of worship and an
individual attending any such institution.
For social scientists, a "systematic review" is one
in which the robustness of the research method is
weighted when assessing the quality of the findings
reported. Thus, systematic reviews are the most
useful way to assess the scientific literature and
provide a valid guide to the findings in a
Jeff S. Levin and Harold Y. Vanderpool, "Is Frequent
Religious Attendance Really Conducive to Better
Health?: Towards an Epidemiology of Religion,"
Social Science Medicine, Vol. 24 (1987), pp.
589-600; David B. Larson, Kim A. Sherrill, John S.
Lyons, Fred C. Craigie, S. B. Thielman, M. A.
Greenwold, and Susan S. Larson, "Dimensions and
Valences of Measures of Religious Commitment Found
in the American Journal of Psychiatry and the
Archives of General Psychiatry: 1978 through 1989,"
American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 149
(1978), pp. 557-559; Fred C. Craigie, Jr., David B.
Larson, and Ingrid Y. Liu, "References to Religion
in The Journal of Family Practice: Dimensions and
Valence of Spirituality," The Journal of Family
Practice, Vol. 30 (1990), pp. 477-480.
See "Religion and the Social Sciences," infra,
on the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic
Thomas Skill, James D. Robinson, John S. Lyons, and
David Larson, "The Portrayal of Religion and
Spirituality on Fictional Network Television,"
Review of Religious Research, Vol. 35, No. 3
(March 1994), pp. 251-267.
Allen E. Bergin, "Values and Religious Issues in
Psychotherapy and Mental Health," The American
Psychologist, Vol. 46 (1991), pp. 394-403, esp.
p. 401. Professor Bergin received the American
Psychological Association's top award in 1990.
William Raspberry: "Christmas Without Meaning? Must
the Religious Make a Secret of Their Beliefs?"
The Washington Post, December 24, 1993, p. A15.
David B. Larson, Susan S. Larson, and John Gartner,
"Families, Relationships and Health," in Behavior
and Medicine, ed. Danny Wedding (Baltimore:
Mosby Year Book Inc., 1990), pp. 135-147.
The Politics of Aristotle,
trans. Ernest Barker (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1958), Book VIII, "Political Ideal and
Educational Principles," Chapters 1, 2, and 3, "The
Highest Goal," pp. 279-289.
B. Beit-Hallami, "Psychology of Religion 1880-1939:
The Rise and Fall of a Psychological Movement,"
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences,
Vol. 10 (1974), pp. 84-90.
Harsha N. Mookherjee, "Effects of Religiosity and
Selected Variables on the Perception of Well-Being,"
The Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 134,
No. 3 (June 1994), pp. 403-405, reporting on a
national sample General Social Survey of 1,481
adults aged 18-89.
Larson and Larson, "The Forgotten Factor in Physical
and Mental Health," p. 76.
David O. Moberg, "The Development of Social
Indicators of Spiritual Well-Being for Quality of
Life Research," in Spiritual Well-Being:
Sociological Perspectives, ed. David O. Moberg
(Washington, D.C.: University Press of America,
Rodney Stark: "Psychopathology and Religious
Commitment," Review of Religious Research,
Vol. 12 (1971), pp. 165-176.
R. W. Williams, D. B. Larson, R. E. Buckler, R. C.
Heckman, and C. M. Pyle, "Religion and Psychological
Distress in a Community Sample," Social Science
Medicine, Vol. 32 (1991), pp. 1257-1262.
David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, "Does Religious
Commitment Make a Clinical Difference in Health?"
Second Opinion, Vol. 17 (July 1991), pp. 26-40.
William V. D'Antonio: "The Family and Religion:
Exploring a Changing Relationship," Journal for
the Scientific Study of Religion," Vol. 19
(1980), pp. 89-104.
Darwin L. Thomas and Gwendolyn C. Henry, "The
Religion and Family Connection: Increasing Dialogue
in the Social Sciences," Journal of Marriage and
the Family, Vol. 47 (May 1985), pp. 369-370.
Howard M. Bahr and Bruce A. Chadwick, "Religion and
Family in Middletown, USA," Journal of Marriage
and the Family, Vol. 47 (May 1985), pp. 407-414.
Arland Thornton and Donald Camburn, "Religious
Participation and Adolescent Sexual Behavior and
Attitudes," Journal of Marriage and the Family,
Vol. 51 (August 1989), pp. 641-653.
Research and Forecasts Inc., The Connecticut
Mutual Life Report on American Values in the 1980's
(Hartford: Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co.,
C. E. Kennedy, Janet Cleveland, and Walter Schumm,
"Family Commitment and Religious Commitment:
Parallel Processes," (Manhattan, Kan.: Department of
Family and Child Development, Kansas State
Nick Stinnet, G. Saunders, John DeFrain, and A.
Parkhurst. "A Nationwide Study of Families Who
Perceive Themselves as Strong," Family
Perspectives, Vol. 16 (1982), pp. 15-22.
Velma McBride Murry, "Incidence of First Pregnancy
Among Black Adolescent Females Over Three Decades,"
Youth & Society, Vol. 23, No. 4 (June 1992),
pp. 478-506, esp. p. 483.
Larson, Larson, and Gartner, "Families,
Relationships and Health."
See, for example, G. Burchinal, "Marital
Satisfaction and Religious Behavior," American
Sociological Review, Vol. 22 (January 1957), pp.
C. Tavris and S. Sadd, The Redbook Report on
Female Sexuality (New York: Delacorte Press,
Robert T. Michael, John H. Gagnon, Edward O.
Laumann, and Gina Kolata, Sex in America: A
Definitive Survey (Boston: Little Brown 1995),
Wesley Shrum, "Religion and Marital Instability:
Change in the 1970s?" Review of Religious
Research, Vol. 21 (1980), pp. 135-147.
David B. Larson: "Religious Involvement," in
Family Building, ed. G. E. Rekers (Ventura,
Cal.: Regal, 1985), pp. 121-147.
J. O. Billy, K. Tanfer, W. R. Grady, and D. H.
Klepinger, "The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United
States," Family Planning Perspectives, Vol.
25 (1993), pp. 52-60.
Larry L. Bumpass, James A. Sweet, and Andrew
Cherlin, "The Role of Cohabitation in Declining
Rates of Marriage," NSFH Working Paper No. 5, Center
for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin,
National Institute of Healthcare Research May 1993
summary of: A. Thorton, W. Axxinn, and D. Hill,
"Reciprocal Effects of Religiosity, Cohabitation,
and Marriage," American Journal of Sociology,
Vol. 98 (1992), pp. 628-651.
Allan C. Carlson, "Religion and the Family: The
Troubled and Enduring Bond," The Family in
America, Vol. 2 (January 1988), p. 7.
B. Schlesinger, "Functioning Families: Focus of the
1980s," Family Perspectives, Vol. 16 (1982),
Patrick F. Fagan, "The Real Root Causes of Crime:
The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community,"
Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1026,
March 17, 1995.
Patrick F. Fagan, "Rising Illegitimacy: America's
Social Catastrophe," Heritage Foundation F.Y.I.
No. 19, June 1994. Robert Rector, "Combating Family
Disintegration, Crime, and Dependence: Welfare
Reform and Beyond," Heritage Foundation
Backgrounder No. 983, April 1994.
Robert Rector, "Combatting Family Disintegration,
Crime, and Dependence: Welfare Reform and Beyond,"
Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1026,
March 17, 1995.
George W. Comstock and Kay B. Partridge, "Church
Attendance and Health," Journal of Chronic
Disease, Vol. 25 (1972), pp. 665-672.
D. M. Zuckerman, S.V. Kasl, and A. M. Osterfield,
"Psychosocial Predictors of Mortality Among the
Elderly Poor," American Journal of Epidemiology,
Vol. 119 (1984), pp. 410-423.
For instance, J. S. House, C. Robins, and H. L.
Metzner, "The Association of Social Relationships
and Activities with Mortality: Prospective Evidence
from the Tecumseh Community Health Study,"
American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 114
(1984), p. 129.
David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S.
Greenberg, E. Logue, and H. A. Tyroler, "The Impact
of Religion on Men's Blood Pressure," Journal of
Religion and Health, Vol. 28 (1989), pp.
W. T. Maramot, "Diet, Hypertension and Stroke," in
Nutrition and Health, ed. M. R. Turner (New
York: Alan R. Liss, 1982), p. 243.
J. S. Levin and P. L. Schiller, "Is There a
Religious Factor in Health?" Journal of Religion
and Health, Vol. 26 (1987), pp. 9-35.
The 1984 and 1987 General Social Surveys conducted
by the National Opinion Research Center, which
included questions on religious commitment and
K. F. Ferraro and C. M. Albrecht-Jensen, "Does
Religion Influence Adult Health?" Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 30 (1991),
R. B. Byrd, "Positive Therapeutic Effects of
Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit
Population," Southern Medical Journal, Vol.
75 (1982), pp. 1166-1168.
Fagan, "Rising Illegitimacy: America's Social
Catastrophe," and U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Report to Congress on
Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing, September 1995,
esp. chapter on "The Consequences of Nonmarital
Childbearing for Women, Children and Society" by
Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., American Teens
Speak: Sex, Myths, TV, and Birth Control,
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.,
1986; Thornton and Camburn, "Religious Participation
and Adolescent Sexual Behavior and Attitudes."
Murry, "Incidence of First Pregnancy Among Black
Adolescent Females Over Three Decades."
Monthly Vital Statistics Report,
Vol. 44, No. 3 (September 21, 1995), DHHS/CDC/NCHS,
Bernard Spilka, Ralph W. Hood, and Richard L.
Gorsuch, The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical
Approach (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall,
1985); Cheryl D. Hayes, ed., "Risking the Future:
Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Childbearing,"
Vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: National Academic Press,
1987); Michael J. Donahue, "Aggregate Religiousness
and Teenage Fertility Revisited: Reanalyses of Data
from the Guttmacher Institute," paper presented at
Society for the Scientific Study of Religion,
Chicago, Illinois, October 1988; Catherine S.
Chilman, "Adolescent Sexuality in a Changing
American Society: Social and Psychological
Perspectives," NIH Publication No. 80-1426
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,
The following studies are cited in Scott H. Beck,
Bettie S. Cole, and Judith A. Hammond, "Religious
Heritage and Premarital Sex: Evidence from a
National Sample of Young Adults," Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 30, No. 2
(1991), pp. 173-180: H. T. Christensen and L. B.
Johnson, "Premarital Coitus and the Southern Black:
A Comparative View," Journal of Marriage and the
Family, Vol. 40 (1978), pp. 721-731; Stephen R.
Jorgensen and Janet S. Sonstegard, "Predicting
Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior: An
Application and Test of the Fishbein Model,"
Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 46
(1984), pp. 43-55; F. L. Mott, "The Patterning of
Female Teenage Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes,"
paper presented at 1983 Annual Meeting of the
American Public Health Association, Dallas, Texas,
November 1983; and J. M. Studer and A. Thornton,
"Adolescent Religiosity and Contraceptive Usage,"
Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 47
(1985), pp. 381-395.
Beck et al., "Religious Heritage and
Premarital Sex: Evidence from a National Sample of
Donahue, "Aggregate Religiousness and Teenage
Fertility Revisited: Reanalyses of Data from the
Brent C. Miller, Robert Higginson, J. Kelly McCoy,
and Terrance D. Olson, "Family Configuration and
Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behavior,"
Population and Environment, Vol. 9 (1987), pp.
Elise F. Jones et al., "Teenage Pregnancy in
Developed Countries: Determinants and Policy
Implications," Family Planning Perspectives,
Vol. 17, No. 2 (March/April 1985), pp. 53-63.
Arland D. Thorton, "Family and Institutional Factors
in Adolescent Sexuality," found in HHS/Public Health
Service, "Summaries of Completed Adolescent Family
Life Research Projects on Adolescent Sexual
Behavior," a 1991 internal staff summary of
HHS-funded research projects.
See, for example, Brian C. Martinson and Larry L.
Bumpass, "The Impact of Family Background on
Premarital Births among Women under 30 in the United
States," NSFH Working Paper No. 9, Center for
Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin,
S. Newcomer and J. R. Undry, "Parental Marital
Status Effects on Adolescent Sexual Behavior,"
Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 49
(1987), pp. 235-240.
For example, Thornton and Camburn, "Religious
Participation and Adolescent Sexual Behavior and
This study, "Fertility Appreciation for Families,"
involved a matched control design. Unpublished but
peer reviewed, it is available from Family of the
Americas, P.O. Box 1170, Dunkirk, Maryland 20754.
David Lester, "Religiosity and Personal Violence: A
Regional Analysis of Suicide and Homicide Rates,"
The Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 127, No.
6 (December 1987), pp. 685-686.
John Rohrbaugh and Richard Jessor, Institute of
Behavioral Science, University of Colorado,
"Religiosity in Youth: A Personal Control Against
Deviant Behavior," Journal of Personality,
Vol. 43, No. 1 (1975), pp. 136-155.
John K. Cochran, "Another Look at Delinquency and
Religiosity," Sociological Spectrum, Vol. 9,
No. 2 (1989), pp. 147-162.
Avtar Singh, "Note: Religious Involvement and
Anti-Social Behavior," Perceptual and Motor
Skills, Vol. 48 (1979), pp. 1157-1158.
For instance, see Lee Ellis, "Religiosity and
Criminality from the Perspective of Arousal Theory,"
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency,
Vol. 24, No. 3 (August 1987), pp. 215-232.
John Gartner, David B. Larson, and George Allen,
"Religious Commitment and Mental Health: A Review of
the Empirical Literature," Journal of Psychology
and Theology, Vol. 19 (1991), pp. 6-25.
Beit-Hallami, "Psychology of Religion 1880-1939,"
Naida M. Parson and James K. Mikawa, "Incarceration
and Nonincarceration of African-American Men Raised
in Black Christian Churches," The Journal of
Psychology, Vol. 125 (1990), pp. 163-173.
Richard B. Freeman, "Who Escapes? The Relation of
Church-Going and Other Background Factors to the
Socio-Economic Performance of Black Male Youths from
Inner-City Poverty Tracts," Working Paper Series No.
1656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985.
Ranald Jarrell, Department of Education, Arizona
State University West, personal communication,
Analysis of NLSY data by Heritage Foundation analyst
Fagan, "Rising Illegitimacy: America's Social
Catastrophe," p. 5.
Given the significance of these findings, which are
now over 10 years old, it is telling that no further
research seems to have been conducted along these
lines by the welfare interest group in academia. In
the business field, there is considerable anecdotal
literature of the testimonial genre which recounts
the effect of religious belief or conversion on work
capacity and outcomes; in the academic literature,
however, there seems to be little or none. See
"Religion and the Social Sciences," infra.
Achaempong Yaw Amoateng and Stephen J. Bahr,
"Religion, Family, and Adolescent Drug Use,"
Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 29 (1986), pp.
53-73, and John K. Cochran, Leonard Beghley, and E.
Wilbur Block, "Religiosity and Alcohol Behavior: An
Exploration of Reference Group Therapy,"
Sociological Forum, Vol. 3 (1988), pp. 256-276.
Amoateng and Bahr, "Religion, Family, and Adolescent
Gartner, Larson, and Allen, "Religious Commitment
and Mental Health: A Review of the Empirical
Literature"; Steven R. Burkett and Mervin White,
"Hellfire and Delinquency: Another Look," Journal
for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 13
(1974), pp. 455-462; Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott,
and Collins Lewis, "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in
Patients with Affective Syndromes," Comprehensive
Psychiatry, Vol. 26 (1985), pp. 283-295.
David B. Larson and William P. Wilson: "Religious
Life of Alcoholics," Southern Medical Journal,
Vol. 73 (1980), pp. 723-727.
Robert H. Coombs, David K. Wellisch, and Fawzy I.
Fawzy, "Drinking Patterns and Problems among Female
Children and Adolescents: A Comparison of
Abstainers, Past Users and Current Users,"
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Vol.
11 (1985), pp. 315-348.
Barbara R. Lorch and Robert H. Hughes, "Religion and
Youth Substance Use," Journal of Religion and
Health, Vol. 24 (1985), pp. 197-208.
Amoateng and Bahr, "Religion, Family, and Adolescent
Lorch and Hughes, "Religion and Youth Substance
Coombs, Wellisch, and Fawzy, "Drinking Patterns and
Problems among Female Children and Adolescents: A
Comparison of Abstainers, Past Users and Current
Orville S. Walters, "The Religious Background of
Fifty Alcoholics," Quarterly Journal of Studies
on Alcohol, Vol. 18 (1957), pp. 405-413.
F. Lemere, "What Happens to Alcoholics?" American
Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 22 (1953), pp.
Walters, "The Religious Background of Fifty
H. M. Tiebaut, "Psychological Factors Operating in
Alcoholics Anonymous," in Current Therapies of
Personality Disorders, ed. B. Glueck (New York:
Grune and Stratton, 1946).
Larson and Larson, "The Forgotten Factor in Physical
and Mental Health," p. 71.
Richard L. Gorsuch and M. C. Butler, "Initial Drug
Abuse: A View of Predisposing Social Psychological
Factors," Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 3
(1976), pp. 120-137.
For example, Ron D. Hays, Alan W. Stacy, Keith F.
Widaman, M. Robin DiMatteo, and Ralph Downey,
"Multistage Path Models of Adolescent Alcohol and
Drug Use: A Reanalysis," Journal of Drug Issues,
Vol. 16 (1986), pp. 357-369; Hasin, Endicott, and
Lewis, "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients with
Affective Syndromes"; Steven R. Burkett, "Religion,
Parental Influence and Adolescent Alcohol and
Marijuana Use," Journal of Drug Issues, Vol.
7 (1977), pp. 263-273; Lorch and Hughes, "Religion
and Youth Substance Use"; and Edward M. Adalf and
Reginald G. Smart, "Drug Use and Religious
Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior," British
Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80 (1985), pp.
Adalf and Smart, "Drug Use and Religious
Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior."
Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M.
O'Malley, "Explaining the Recent Decline in Cocaine
Use Among Young Adults: Further Evidence That
Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug
Use," Journal of Health and Social Behavior,
Vol. 31 (1990), pp. 173-184, and Hasin, Endicott,
and Lewis, "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With
Affective Syndromes." The findings of this
NIMH-supported study were replicated in the
above-cited study by Bachman, Johnson, and O'Malley.
Adalf and Smart, "Drug Use and Religious
Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior."
M. Daum and M. A. Lavenhar, "Religiosity and Drug
Use," National Institute of Drug Abuse, DHEW
Publication No. (ADM) 80-939, 1980.
Louis A. Cancellaro, David B. Larson, and William P.
Wilson, "Religious Life of Narcotics Addicts,"
Southern Medical Journal, Vol. 75, No. 10
(October 1992), pp. 1166-1168.
John Muffler, John Langrod, and David Larson,
"'There Is a Balm in Gilead': Religion and Substance
Abuse Rehabilitation," in Substance Abuse: A
Comprehensive Textbook, ed. J. H. Lowinson, P.
Ruiz, et al. (Baltimore, Md.: Williams and Wilkins,
1992), pp. 584-595.
Charles E. Joubert, "Religious Nonaffiliation in
Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape, and
Illegitimacy," Psychological Reports, Vol.
75, No. 1, Part 1 (1994), p. 10, and Jon W. Hoelter,
"Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide
Acceptability," Suicide and Life Threatening
Behavior, Vol. 9 (1979), pp. 163-172.
William T. Martin, "Religiosity and United States
Suicide Rates, 1972-1978," Journal of Clinical
Psychology, Vol. 40 (1984), pp. 1166-1169.
Steven Stack, "The Effect of Domestic-Religious
Individualism on Suicide, 1954-1978," Journal of
Marriage and the Family, Vol. 47 (1985), pp.
Steven Stack, "The Effect of the Decline in
Institutionalized Religion on Suicide, 1954-1978,"
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
Vol. 22 (1983), pp. 239-252.
Lester, "Religiosity and Personal Violence: A
Regional Analysis of Suicide and Homicide Rates."
Steven Stack: "The Effects of Religious Commitment
on Suicide: A Cross-National Analysis," Journal
of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 24 (1983),
Williams, Larson, Buckler, Heckman, and Pyle,
"Religion and Psychological Distress in a Community
Sample," pp. 1257-1262. Religious commitment also
had other benefits. Not only were members of the
group less depressed, but they could walk a greater
distance at discharge than those without religious
beliefs and practices. See Peter Pressman, John S.
Lyons, David B. Larson, and James J. Strain,
"Religious Belief, Depression and Ambulation Status
in Elderly Women with Broken Hips," American
Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 147 (1990), pp.
Loyd S. Wright, Christopher J. Frost, and Stephen J.
Wisecarver, "Church Attendance, Meaningfulness of
Religion on, and Depressive Symptomology Among
Adolescents," Journal of Youth and Adolescence,
Vol. 22, No. 5 (1993), pp. 559-568.
Fagan, "The Real Root Causes of Crime: The Breakdown
of Marriage, Family, and Community."
Stark, "Psychopathology and Religious Commitment."
Clyde C. Mayo, Herbert B. Puryear, and Herbert G.
Richek, "MMPI Correlates of Religiousness in Late
Adolescent College Students," Journal of Nervous
and Mental Disease, Vol. 149 (November 1969),
pp. 381-385. These findings do not hold for "ego
strength." (However, refer to the section on
measurements, where this particular finding will be
looked at again.)
Peter L. Bensen and Bernard P. Spilka, "God-Image as
a Function of Self-Esteem and Locus of Control" in
Current Perspectives in the Psychology of
Religion, ed. H. N. Maloney (Grand Rapids,
Mich.: Eerdmans, 1977), pp. 209-224.
Carl Jung: "Psychotherapies on the Clergy," in
Collected Works, Vol. 2 (Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 327-347.
Walters, "The Religious Background of Fifty
Larson and Larson, "The Forgotten Factor in Physical
and Mental Health," p. 87.
Gordon W. Allport, "The Person in Psychology:
Selected Essays" (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press,
1968), p. 150.
R. D. Kahoe, "Personality and Achievement Correlates
on Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religious Orientations,"
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Vol. 29 (1974), pp. 812-818.
Ken F. Wiebe and J. Roland Fleck, "Personality
Correlates of Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Non-Religious
Orientations," Journal of Psychology, Vol.
105 (1980), pp. 111-117.
Michael J. Donahue, "Intrinsic and Extrinsic
Religiousness: Review and Meta-Analysis," Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 48
(1985), pp. 400-419.
Allen E. Bergin, K. S. Masters, and P. Scott
Richards, "Religiousness and Mental Health
Reconsidered: A Study of an Intrinsically Religious
Sample," Journal of Counseling Psychology,
Vol. 34 (1987), pp. 197-204.
M. Baker and R. Gorsuch, "Trait Anxiety and
Intrinsic-Extrinsic Religiousness," Journal for
the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 21
(1982), pp. 119-122, and Gordon W. Allport and J.
Michael Ross, "Personal Religious Orientation and
Prejudice," Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology Vol. 5 (1967), pp. 432-443.
Kahoe, Personality and Achievement Correlates on
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religious Orientations."
Wiebe and Fleck, "Personality Correlates of
Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Non-Religious
Bergin, Masters, and Richards, "Religiousness and
Mental Health Reconsidered: A Study of an
Intrinsically Religious Sample."
Ann M. Downey, "Relationships of Religiosity to
Death Anxiety of Middle-Aged Males,"
Psychological Reports, Vol. 54 (1984), pp.
The benefit of the intrinsic practice of religion
certainly be obvious to most ordinary Americans. But
in research results, many of the deleterious effects
of the extrinsic practice of religion wipe out many
of the benefits of intrinsic practice when adherents
of both are mixed together in the same piece of
research. Most religious research to date does not
measure or differentiate between intrinsic and
extrinsic practice of religion. Despite this
shortcoming, the studies cited up to now do not
distinguish between these types of religious
practice, yet show a very positive outcome. This
poses a number of important research issues, chief
among them whether this is because there are only a
few extrinsics among those who go to church most
frequently. For researchers and those who commission
research, there is an obvious need to measure
whether the person's practice of religion, when it
is present, is more intrinsic or extrinsic.
Fortunately, a simple validated scale has been
developed to measure the person's religious
motivation. See Dean R. Hoge, "A Validated Intrinsic
Religious Motivation Scale," Journal for
Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 11 (1972),
In the view of this author, that tension arises from
the effort of the social sciences to contain
religion within the canons of the social sciences.
However the canons of religion transcend these
canons, and therefore cannot be reduced to the
dimensions of any of the social sciences, though
every social science can describe some facets of
Thomas and Henry, "The Religion and Family
Connection: Increasing Dialogue in the Social
The Gallup survey (Religion in America 1985)
continues to indicate that religious commitment is
avowed by one-third of Americans as the most
important dimension in their lives and that, for
another third, religion is considered to be very
important (but not the single most dominant) factor.
Religion in America: The Gallup Report, Report
No. 236, 1985 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
Religion Research Center, 1985) quoted in Alan E.
Bergin and Jay P. Stevens, "Religiosity of
Psychotherapists: A National Survey,"
Psychotherapy, Vol. 27 (1990), pp. 3-7.
Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief
(New York: Anchor Books, 1994), pp. 6-7.
Larson and Larson, "The Forgotten Factor in Physical
and Mental Health."
Patrick McNamara, "The New Rights View of the Family
and Its Social Science Critics: A Study in Differing
Presuppositions," Journal of Marriage and the
Family, Vol. 47 (1985), pp. 449-458.
Religion in America.
Henry Steele Commager, ed., Documents of American
History, 9th ed. (NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973), p.
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19,
1796, in George Washington: A Collection, ed.
W. B. Allen (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Classics,
1988), p. 521.
For instance, Congress has been funding only
research projects that ignore or bury the effects of
religion while scrupulously trying to avoid any
initiative that in some way might advance religious
belief or practice. This essentially is what has
happened in the vast areas of social science
research financed by the federal government that is
among the work covered in this study.
William Raspberry, "Prevent the Abuse, Preserve the
Privilege," The Washington Post, April 7,
1993, p. A27.
Zorach v. Clauson,
343 U.S. 306, 72 S. Ct. 679, 96 L.Ed 954 (1952).
See Patrick F. Fagan "Social Breakdown in America,"
in Issues '96 (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage
Foundation, forthcoming 1996).
The author would like to thank Dr. David Larson,
President of the National Institute for Healthcare
Research, for his generous guidance and assistance
in providing much resource material. Robert Klassen,
while interning at the Heritage Foundation, was of
immense help as my research assistant.