Religion can be defined as a strong belief in the supernatural power that holds the sole authority to control human destiny. It is an institution that helps to express our belief in a heavenly power. Religion is as old as the human civilization and came into existence when the human brain became superior to realize the significance of faith, and worship. Earlier humans lived in small groups, and each group recognized an icon that harmonized the ideologies of different people in the group.
Rituals were an essential part of lives and were carried for natural resources icons such as moon, sun, fire, river, etc. since its beginning religion has been very beneficial for humans and it still holds an important place in the lives of people. Religion is a completely personal choice and should be left to the choice of individuals. It is unfair to force a religion on followers of some other religion through offering gifts and cash. Each religion has its own beliefs and ideologies and should be mutually respected by others in the world.
Only then this world can become a better place to live. A growing number of studies convincingly demonstrate that people who are more deeply involved in religion tend to enjoy better physical and mental health than individuals who are less involved in religion (Ellison & Levin, 1998; Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001). As this literature continues to develop, researchers have begun to tackle challenging issues that involve explaining how the salubrious effects of religion on health might arise. A number of potentially important theoretical perspectives have been devised.
For example, some investigators argue that involvement in religion exerts a beneficial effect on health because it helps people cope more effectively with the deleterious effects of stress (Pargament, 1997), whereas other researchers maintain that the potentially important health-related effects arise from the sense of meaning in life that many people find through greater involvement in religion (Park, 2005). An explanation that was proposed some time ago forms the focal point of the current study.
More specifically, a number of researchers have argued that people who are more involved in religion tend to have better health because they are more likely to adopt beneficial health behaviors than individuals who are less involved in religion (Levin & Schiller, 1987). Subsequent research has provided support for this perspective. For example, a number of studies indicate that individuals who attend religious services often are more likely to avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol (Gillum, 2005; Strawbridge, Shema, Cohen, & Kaplan, 2001).
Moreover, greater involvement in religion has been associated with more frequent exercise, a better diet, better sleep quality, and the regular use of seat belts (Hill, Burdette, Ellison, & Musick, 2006; Hill, Ellison, Burdette, & Musick, 2007). There is also some evidence that religious individuals are more likely to engage in a range of preventive health practices, such as getting a regular mammography, having a routine cholesterol screening, and obtaining flu shots (Benjamins, 2006; Benjamins & Brown, 2004; Benjamins, Trinitapoli, & Ellison, 2006).
Although there is broad-based empirical support for the notion that religious involvement is associated with beneficial health behaviors there is still a great deal that is not known about this relationship. One area that is in need of further development forms the focal point of the current study. More specifically, researchers have not devised well-articulated models that explain how involvement in religion promotes the practice of better health behaviors (e. g. , Benjamins et al. , 2006; Ellison et al. in press).
This information is essential for the development of more effective interventions that are administered in religious institutions. As van Ryn and Heaney (1992) observe, “Clearly, application of well-defined and carefully tested theories to the program development process holds tremendous advantages for health educators in terms of coherence, effectiveness, and evaluation of interventions” (p. 328). Three potentially important mechanisms have been identified in the research that has been done so far.
The first involves the notion that certain religious beliefs encourage people to take better care of their bodies. Included among these beliefs is the notion that the body is the “temple of God” (Ellison et al. , 2009) as well as the belief that better spiritual health is associated with better physical health (Benjamins et al. , 2006). Second, a number of investigators provide evidence which suggests that some people take better care of themselves if they worship in congregations that provide formal programs that are designed to promote better health behavior (Campbell et al. 2007; DeHaven, Hunter, Wilder, Walton, & Berry, 2004).
Third, other researchers report that people who attend church on a regular basis are more likely to adopt beneficial health behaviors because they are encouraged to do so by their fellow church members (Ellison et al. , 2009). For more than 100 years, researchers have argued that religion is an inherently social product. For example, James Mark Baldwin, an early president of the American Psychological Association, wrote in 1902: “The fact is constantly recognized that religion is a social phenomena.
No man is religious by himself, nor does he choose his god, nor devise his offering, nor enjoy his blessings alone” (p. 325). Although the early theorists made invaluable contributions to the literature, they did not explore the more pragmatic implications of their insights. The current study was designed to contribute to more recent efforts by a new generation of scholars who have begun to assess health-related effects that appear to arise from deeper involvement in religion. We hope the findings from the current study and the theoretical perspective we have devised encourage further research in this field.
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