Mar 1, 2014

The joy of church

If you're not one for religious services, Saturday is as good as it gets. If you are planning on going to church tomorrow, though, a Gallup study shows that you will enjoy your Sunday a lot more than your non-observant neighbors.

Sleeping in is apparently not as enjoyable as one might think.

Gallup reports:
Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays -- while the rest of Americans see a decline in their mood. The average number of positive emotions frequent churchgoers report experiencing rises to a high of 3.49 for the week on Sundays, whereas for those who attend church monthly or less often, the average number peaks on Saturdays and declines to a range of 3.14 to 3.29 on Sundays.
The difference isn't huge, but it is notable:


Measuring negative emotions produces the same results: regular attendance at a religious service negatively correlates with feeling bad, and that's even more true on Sunday than the rest of the week. One wonders if this is also the case for those who worship on Friday or Saturday, but for the majority of Americans who go or don't go to church on Sunday, at least, the stats seem clear.

According to Gallup, the strongest single indicator correlating with life satisfaction in America is whether or not one regularly attends a religious service with close friends.

Of course, this is no guarantee that going to church on Sunday will make you feel better. It's possible the causation runs the other direction, and people who are happier and experience more positive emotions are more likely to get up and go to a service on Sunday and more likely to make friends while they're there.

And yet, it's not like anyone makes friends while not at church, so perhaps attendance does have an effect.

Going to a religious service on Sunday may or may not help you if you don't like to sing and can't listen to sermons, like evangelical author Donald Miller, who recently raised a ruckus by saying he doesn't go to church. Going to a service may or may not help you if, like political scientist Jacob Lupfer, you prefer brunch to the sacrament on Sundays.

If you do get up and go to church, though, chances are your Sunday will be even better than your Saturday.