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Survey links happiness with Christianity

Christians are happier than atheists, and more generous, according to new findings from the National Church Life Survey titled Spirituality and Wellbeing.

The Age reported on Saturday that those with a spiritual orientation tend to have a greater sense of purpose in life, are more open to personal growth and have more optimism.

They are also more likely to help others, whether informally in daily life, giving money to charity or doing voluntary service.

"These results suggest that exploration of spirituality and wellbeing may be important to a healthy society," said author Dr Peter Kaldor.

Another researcher, John Bellamy, said the decline in church life comes at a cost."

The research suggests that with the decline of the significance of church life in Australia and the secularisation of Christian festivals such as Christmas, we are losing something of the fabric of community wellbeing," he said.

Dr Bellamy said many people assume that a more secular outlook is better for society.

"While no doubt a complex question, the opposite appears to be true: religion and spirituality appear to provide some anchors for life."

He said Christianity and New Age spirituality provide a sense of purpose in life, but believers of alternative spiritualities were less likely to contribute to charities or community groups than religious people. The study found that those who were "unreflectively religious" tended to have lower levels of self-esteem and personal growth and were less involved in various forms of service or giving to charity.

The study - by researchers from Deakin University, Perth's Edith Cowan University, the National Church Life Survey - found people with a spiritual orientation scored higher on wellbeing categories, including general health and physical functioning, mental health, self-esteem, optimism, sense of control, purpose in life, sense of personal growth, satisfaction with life, sense of security, relational wellbeing and concern for others.

Happiness is Christianity, believe it or not (The Age 11/12/04)

National Church Life Survey

Survey body pinpoints link between mission activities and more newcomers (CathNEws 1/11/04)
Survey finds Irish Caritas most fun place to work (CathNews 2/4/04)
Howard stresses 'community' contribution of Catholic Church (CathNews 12/9/03)

Secular mindset no gift for Christmas: New research shows religion and spirituality can be good for our wellbeing (National Church Life Survey 30/11/04)
Blind faith takes a back pew in wellbeing list (Sydney Morning Herald 11/12/04)

People believe more in God than religion suggests survey (Ekklesia 10/12/04)

13 Dec 2004