Originally posted by whodey
This must splain why people who regularly go to church are happier and live longer.
In predominantly secular countries, community involvement is very high (6) so that atheists are much more active in their communities than they would be in a comparatively religious country such as the U.S. Instead of feeling like second class citizens, the non religious are fully integrated in their communities with all of the health advantages this brings. So what had looked like advantages of religion could be simply an advantage of being in the mainstream.
In the U.S. some health researchers are fond of giving religion the credit for boosting life expectancy. Yet despite being a nation with a large religious majority, Americans have much lower life expectancy than is enjoyed by secular countries at a similar level of economic development such as Japan and Sweden. Evidently, the lower quality of life here both provides a market for religion and reduces life expectancy.
From that perspective, it seems bizarre that health researchers would be so keen to tout the alleged health advantages of religion (2). If religion really promoted longevity, how could people have such short life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa where virtually everyone is deeply religious?
I'd say that besides a healthy environment and access to medical care, the key to a longer life is reducing stress
. Spirituality can do this for people, but is not necessarily required.