In a study published last year, Professor Patricia Casey compiled the findings of a number of different psychological studies to profile the effect of religious practice on individual health and on that of society.

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Scientific Study

The Iona Institute, this week, launch a campaign to highlight the scientific evidence which supports the promotion of religious practice with a fresh new advertising campaign for the website www.religiouspractice.ie.

In a the study Professor Patricia Casey’s findings were overwhelmingly positive in terms of the benefits that religious practice has on ones life expectancy, happiness, ability to recover from trauma like bereavement etc. The first ever ad campaign to promote religious practice has been launched by The Iona Institute with the message,

Heres a little science. The practice of religion is good for you.

The campaign, which began yesterday, initially centring on Dublin city, will consist of 110 bus shelter ads throughout the city and will run for a fortnight. The campaign has been launched to coincide with Easter.

Commenting on the launch, Iona Institute director, David Quinn said,

This campaign is unprecedented. Nothing like it has ever taken place in Ireland, or anywhere else that we know of. Its aim is to present a positive image of religion. There are now a lot of scientific studies showing that religious practice has numerous beneficial effects. The aim of the campaign is to let people know about this.

The paper examines the various scientific studies done in this area and these show that religious practice is associated, on average, with:

  • Lower levels of depression
  • Lower levels of marital breakdown
  • Lower levels of alcohol and drug abuse
  • Lower levels of pregnancy among teenagers
  • Faster recovery from bereavement
  • Faster recovery from illness
  • Longer life expectancy, etc.

The campaign will invite people to examine the evidence for themselves and will direct them to a dedicated website called www.religiouspractice.ie. David Quinn said, If the campaign gets a good response, we hope to roll it out in other parts of the country in the next year or two.

He added,

Religion has a very negative image at present. The campaign was first conceived four years ago when books like The God Delusion were best-sellers. We wanted to counter this negativity by pointing to the evidence that, on the whole, religious practice is beneficial both for individuals and for society. The message of this campaign is not specific to any one denomination, or even any one religion. It is a generic message and applies to all the mainstream religions.

The campaign is being funded by the St Stephens Green Trust.