Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shiny, Happy People....

Living in the middle of Mormondom, along the I-15 corridor, has really opened my eyes to the Utah Mormon culture.   Driving around  Salt Lake, you can see the neighborhoods dotted with churches everywhere.  Looking around the valley you may notice the pinnacles of Mormonism, the Mormon temples.  These structures, according to their teachings, are where the mysteries of God are taught with all the necessary ordinances needed to return back to God and live with Him in heaven.  It is necessary, according to the doctrine, to go the temple to reach the highest level of heaven.

 
In these elaborate structures, no expense is spared.  I remember during the Draper Temple open house, visitors were told of the Italian limestone moulding that was used throughout the structure.  To members, these buildings are where God resides.  In my opinion, it seems as if  the more elaborate and beautiful the building, the holier it becomes.  God's house needs to be over the top or God will not accept it.  It is all about appearances.

courtesy of buzzfeed


 I used to "feel" the spirit in the Temple when I was a believing member.  Now, after finding out the truth,  there is nothing magical about the temple.  It is simply like a very nice hotel lobby.    The "spirit" therefore,  must basically come from our own mind, and it is based on our perspective.  If we think it is holy-- we make it holy.  Just like Christmas was always more magical when you believed in Santa Claus.

  Let me give you an example.  Numerous people who have been to the sacred grove in New York  tell how spiritual and holy it is there.  They always tell of the feeling they had when visiting the grove. The interesting thing is we really don't know the exact spot where the "vision" happened.   Even the church can't pinpoint the location.  Steve Benson reports;

Where's a working Liahona when you need one?

Anyone got a map to Joseph Smith's "Sacred Grove?" Didn't think so. From the clueless Mormon Church's own website:

"The Joseph Smith Sr. family moved to this 100-acre property in western New York [Manchester, New York, near Palmyra] around 1818. Joseph Smith, Jr. labored with his father and brothers to remove trees and prepare this heavily forested land for farming.

"'On the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of 1820,' young Joseph went into these woods to pray, to a place where he 'had previously designed to go.' Here, God the Father and His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith to commence the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days.

"Joseph Smith's family moved away from this farm in 1830. The Church acquired the land in the early 1900s. The exact location of Joseph Smith's First Vision is unknown, but it occurred somewhere within a 10-acre forest on the western boundaries of the farm. This forest has been referred to as the Sacred Grove since 1906."

("Sacred Grove: Manchester, New York (near Palmyra)," from website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 10 September 2013, at: http://history.lds.org/article/historic-sites-new-york-sacred-grove?lang=eng)


Looking at this photo of the sacred grove can you feel the spirit?

  Me too.  Funny this is in West Virginia. 

That's better.  Now I feel the spirit.

It is all about appearances, and as humans, we are creating these feelings of God and His spirit.  It we believe it and it looks right, then it makes me feel good.  That's the spirit.

I see this emphasis on appearance everyday around the Salt Lake valley.  I see it with my neighbors, my friends, even my family.  Being from another state, I didn't really find  this fixation on outward appearances.  People weren't as worried about what brands they were wearing, the car they drove, how their hair is done, nails, breast implants, etc...



Now I don't have a problem with someone trying to look their best, but I feel there is an unwritten paradigm in the Utah Mormon culture.  That trend is,  to the  Utah member, their worthiness and status with God is tied to their wealth or appearance of wealth.   This pursuit of wealth, or in other words, the appearance of wealth can lead to debt, bankruptcy, depression, judging, etc...  Go to the parade of homes in Utah, it speaks volumes of this mentality.   I wonder if subconsciously, members feel the need to have the biggest, fanciest, and etc... home, car, body, clothes, hair, to feel God's presence. 



To me, the members lives are like the Mormon temples.  They may appear happy, beautiful and good on the outside, but deep down there is alot of hurt going on.  They are driving the newest and best cars, have the biggest houses and the latest toys, but it is all show.  It makes them feel good about their status with "God".  Members say they are happy, that the church gives them purpose and joy. The church does give them busy work, but just like the temple it is all show and no substance. The members real lives are hidden behind a facade.  They aren't the "shiny, happy people we are lead to believe.

CS

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Apostle du jour....

The Mormon church's highest general leadership contains the following positions;  A president and/or corporate sole and his two counselors.  Thomas Monson is currently in that position.  He is sustained and accepted by members as God's spokesperson for the entire earth and the only human who holds or possesses all of the "keys of authority" for the world. 






He is considered by the membership to talk directly to Jesus Christ.  It is understood that he meets personally with the Lord to discuss direction of the Mormon church and the world.  He has been in the general leadership as an apostle since October 4, 1963.  He has his own unique style when speaking.  Over the years, he has given many talks about his service to the widows under his care as a local leader.  His talks generally lack any real substance--just platitudes to generate positive emotions.

Tom's first counselor is Henry Eyring.  He was sustained and accepted by the members as an apostle in April, 1995.  He was subsequently called into the First Presidency in 2008.  He comes from a family that has been deeply involved in the Mormon church for years.  His father was an internationally recognized chemist, who was awarded many prestigious awards for his efforts in his  research.

"Hank Jr"  followed his father's footsteps in the hard sciences, through undergraduate school obtaining a BS in physics, only to switch directions and attend business school at Harvard.  A highly educated individual who went into academia,  holding positions of professorship at Stanford and MIT. 

He is known among the members as a deeply spiritual man, who cries frequently and easily when giving talks.  Among the ex mormons, he is affectionately known as "Henry B Crying".






The final member of the First Presidency is the "George Hamilton" of the Mormon church.  Also known as the "Silver Fox", Dieter Uchtodorf.  He is an anomaly to me.  I can't figure out where he fits in the whole picture.  He is the only foreigner in the big 15.  As far as I can tell,  he has no connections to the early Mormon church.   He was a career pilot working for the German airline company Lufthansa Airlines.  His mere presence makes women's knees buckle.  In my opinion,  he is the bridge to the NOM, ex mormon and non mormon.  His talks are generally always "non offensive", although he is basically saying the same rhetoric as some of the hard liners in the big 15.   Whether it is his physical charms or his accent--most people miss his underlying message. 




The First Presidency basically controls the Mormon church.  Reports has surfaced that since the failing health of Ezra Benson in the early 90's changes to the corporate transfer of power to the First Presidency.  Steve Benson, grandson of Ezra Benson reports;

It is a matter of public record (thanks to the reporting of the Salt Lake Tribune) that--in direct contravention of established protocol for the transfer of power in the event that the Church president should die OR become incapacitated--Hinckely and Monson had the power of attorney over LDS corporate affairs shifted to them in the Church's incorporation documents a few years before my grandfather's death (see Mormon apostle James E. Talmadge's treatment of Church governance procedures in his book, "Articles of Faith").

Instead of having the First Presidency dissolved and an acting president installed to administer the affairs of the Church in a situation when the sitting president was unable to perform his duties, Hinckely and Monson had legal authority to run the Mormon empire transferred directly to them by the highly unusual method of employing my grandfather's autopen signature machine on Church incorporation documents (see an account of this episode in historian D. Michael Quinn's book, "Extensions of Power").
_____


Here's a breakdown of the details that, in and of themselves, should be enough for any honest Mormon to leave the lying LDS Church:

--I informed Quinn of this surreptitious power grab and he found it significant enough to write that Monson and Hinckley secretly conspired to angle himself into the position of de facto Church president, in clear violation of official Mormon Church governance protocol:

"By May 1989 . . . counselors [Hinckley and Monson] felt it necessary to execute legal documents giving them Ezra Taft Benson's 'power of attorney [which] shall not be affected by his "disability" or "incompetence.'"

"However, Benson was already affected by that 'disability.'

"Despite a notarized statement by the First Presidency's secretary, President Benson did not sign those documents himself. A signature machine produced Benson's identical signatures on these legal documents.

"Without public acknowledgment, this machine-signed document formally ended an official provision for dissolving the First Presidency that had been in print for ninety years. Since 1899 the book 'Articles of Faith,' 'Written By Appointment; and Published By the Church,' had specified that the 'First Presidency is disorganized through the death or disability of the President.'

"However, this 1989 document specified that the counselors would not dissolve the First Presidency or surrender their powers despite the fact of the church president's 'disability' or 'incompetence.'

"The current apostles have supported this policy, even though the officially published 'Articles of Faith' continues to specify that when there is 'disability of the President, the directing authority in [church] government reverts at once to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles." (D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books], pp. 58-59,; fn 243-245, p. 432)
_____


--The “Salt Lake Tribune” affirmed the story through its own investigative reporting efforts:

"In the years before his death President Benson suffered from poor health, suffering from blood clots in the brain, strokes, and heart attacks. During this time, Benson almost never appeared in public, and First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley took on many of Benson's official duties, as he had done as Second Counselor in Kimball's last years.

"Joining Hinckley in this task was Thomas S. Monson, and the two of them received legal power of attorney to act in Benson's behalf in LDS corporate affairs. Important ecclesiastical and family documents continued to be signed in Benson's name, with the aid of a signature machine.

"There was some controversy as to whether Benson's actual mental health during this time was accurately portrayed by the Church. According to Church spokesman Don LeFevre, Hinckley and Monson reviewed major church decisions with Benson in his home, where he was attended by a staff of nurses.

"However, according to Benson's grandson Steve Benson, who later became a vocal, anti-Mormon critic of the church that he quit, the elder Benson by about 1993 was living in a sweatsuit, fed by others, and incapable of recognizing others or speaking coherently.

"Steve Benson stated that in a private meeting with apostle Dallin H. Oaks, Oaks explained to the younger Benson that the apostles rotated in pairs each week to visit the elder Benson at the apartment socially, but that Benson was incapable of conducting official business. . . .

"The fact that President Benson's counselors did not have a great deal of confidence in his ability to function became evident when documents filed with the state of Utah were examined by the 'Salt Lake Tribune':

"'Documents on file with the state of Utah are strong evidence that the parent corporation of the Mormon Church no longer is being directed by its president, Ezra Taft Benson.

"'It is the first time since the corporation was founded 70 years ago that anyone other than the church president has obtained total authority over Utah's most powerful corporation.

"'The documents, at the Utah Department of Commerce, were signed with a machine that duplicates the signature of 94 year-old President Benson. They were filed six months before President Benson . . . made his last public speech.

"'Church leaders said this week the filings and the use of a signature machine were routine, and done with President Benson's approval.... Today, the corporation owns all church assets--including a multi-billion dollar portfolio of financial and property holdings. . . .

"'Entitled "Certificates of Authority' and dated May 23, 1989, the documents say Presidents Hinckley and Monson can keep those complete powers--even if President Benson becomes disabled or is determined by a court to be incompetent. . . . the church made no announcement of the change. It has continued to portray President Benson as the ultimate power behind church affairs. . . .

"'Fran Fish, notary public administrator for the state Department of Commerce, said signatures written by machine are legal . . . .

"'Still, Ms. Fish . . . said use of a signature machine on state corporate filings 'is certainly out of the norm.'. . . Steve Benson . . . has said that his aging grandfather no longer possesses the mental faculties to handle church affairs.

"'"The church has misrepresented the condition of President Benson and stated flatly that his role as prophet has in no way been impeded," Steve Benson said this week. "My grandfather has become a storefront mannequin while the business of the store is conducted behind closed doors."

"'He said a signature machine has replaced his grandfather's hand on all personal and family correspondence.”Evidently," Steve Benson said, "the signature machine had not been programmed to sign, 'Grandpa.'"'"('Salt Lake Tribune,' August 15, 1993)"

(To view the actual signature machine-created signature of Ezra Taft Benson on the incorporation documents mentioned above, see "Hinckley Monson and Ezra Taft Benson's Signature Machine," by "cricket" [Steven Clark], 30 December 2006, at: http://www.salamandersociety.com/legal/; see also, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Mormon Inquisition?: LDS Leaders Move to Repress Rebellion," under "Non-Functional Prophets," in "Salt Lake City Messenger," No. 85, November 1993, at: http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no85.htm)



 The "face" of the First Presidency is squeaky clean.  Look at those three men.  Who wouldn't want them as a grand parent--or as in Dieter's case a husband.  I think many  Mormon women are waiting for polyandry to come back--but that is another topic.  However,  just like any other public figure head, there are always two sides of the story.  Faithful members would never question the behavior of these men.  That is the tragedy, they are going off of blind faith and obedience.  Members are the first to condemn our country's leaders for questionable behavior but turn a blind's eye to any suspect behavior or words by the apostles of the church. 




I must give my dues to the PR of the church. It has done a great job in selecting men to fill leadership roles in the organization.  Looking at the First Presidency as a whole, there isn't really anything offensive about the three.  They come across as gentle and welcoming.  Rarely do these three speak about controversial topics such as Gay marriage or women's rights.  Although I would bet that when the church begins to offer the olive branch to these groups--Dieter will be the one who does it.  He is the least offensive of all the apostles.  The church has really just enlarged  the "menu" of its apostles.  There is an "apostle type" for everyone.  Whether a member is a right wing, conservative bigot or a moderate liberal,  the church's general leadership has something for you.  If Packer pisses you off, then you might gravitate toward Dieter.  If gay bashing is your forte, then Packer or Bednar is your man. Either way you end up full on the Mormon diet. 

CS 
  


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ebony and Ivory...

I have come to a realization of the effectiveness the "black and white" paradigm that Mormon church leaders have been pushing for years.  I feel, this is being done on purpose.  When members hear their leaders talk of the dangers and evils of the world, this mindset  creates a palpable schism between TBM (true believing members) and non believeing/ex mormons/non members.  It forces the member to pick sides, because a fence sitter is offensive to God.  


 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Josua 24:15.


This teaching causes many abhorrent behavioral traits to surface in a faithful member.  Lets look at some of the rhetoric taught in the Mormon church about the dangers and evils of the world.




In the Mormon gospel doctrine manual we read;

Lesson 8: Living Righteously in a Wicked World

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 32–35

Purpose

To strengthen each class member’s resolve to hold fast to righteous standards during times of increasing wickedness.

Here the lesson, in the gospel doctrine manual,  creates an "us vs. them" mentality in the average member.  The world is a wicked and perverse place.  In fact it is getting more wicked everyday, so obey us and you will get through life relatively unscathed. 

Thomas Monson stated in general conference in 1987;

Recently there moved over the wires of Associated Press a catalog of crime as the daily happenings around the world were relayed to the media and thence to the homes on every continent.
The headlines were brief. They highlighted murder, rape, robbery, molestation, fraud, deceit, and corruption. I made note of several: “Man Slays Wife and Children, Then Turns Gun on Self”; “Child Identifies Molester”; “Hundreds Lose All As Multimillion-Dollar Scam Is Exposed.” The sordid list continued. Shades of Sodom, glimpses of Gomorrah.
President Ezra Taft Benson has often stated, “We live in a wicked world.” The Apostle Paul warned, “Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholyJacob taught that the Lord delights “in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:28). I delight in the chastity and purity of all women and men. How it must grieve the Lord to see virtue violated and modesty mocked on every side in this wicked world. The Lord has provided for His children great joy through intimate, loving relationships, as my grandchildren were learning. I delight in the clarity of the proclamation to the world on the family, which warns that “individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”. … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:2–4).
 

Susan Tanner (2008);

 
 Jacob taught that the Lord delights “in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:28). I delight in the chastity and purity of all women and men. How it must grieve the Lord to see virtue violated and modesty mocked on every side in this wicked world. The Lord has provided for His children great joy through intimate, loving relationships, as my grandchildren were learning. I delight in the clarity of the proclamation to the world on the family, which warns that “individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”

 Ezra Benson (1971);

We live in a wicked world. Never in our memory have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation. The devil is well organized. Never in our day has he had so many emissaries working for him. Through his many agents, his satanic majesty has proclaimed his intentions to destroy one whole generation of our choice young people.
Evidence of the dastardly work of evil forces is increasingly evident. On every side we see the sad and heart-rending results. The devil-inspired destructive forces are present in our literature, in our art, in the movies, on the radio, in our dress, in our dances, on the TV screen, and even in our modern, so-called popular music. Satan uses many tools to weaken and destroy the home and family and especially our young people. Today, as never before, it seems the devil’s thrust is directed at our youth.
A letter from a concerned father about the evil effects of some popular music is one of many. I quote from this well-informed teacher of youth:
“Music creates atmosphere. Atmosphere creates environment. Environment influences behavior. What are the mechanics of this process?
“Rhythm is the most physical element in music. It is the only element in music that can exist in bodily movement without benefit of sound. A mind dulled by drugs or alcohol can still respond to the beat.
“Loudness adds to muddling the mind. Sound magnified to the threshold of pain is of such physical violence as to block the higher processes of thought and reason. (And turning down the volume of this destructive music does not remove the other evils.) …
“Repetition to the extreme is another primitive rock device. …
“Gyrations, a twin to rock rhythm, are such that even clean hands and a pure heart cannot misinterpret their insinuations …
“Darkness [and dimmed lights] is another facet of the rock scene. It is a black mass that deadens the conscience in a mask of anonymity. Identity lost in darkness shrinks from the normal feelings of responsibility.
“Strobe lights split the darkness in blinding shafts that reduce resistance like the lights of an interrogator’s third degree or the swinging pendulum of the hypnotist who would control your behavior. …
“The whole psychedelic design [this father continues] is a swinging door to drugs, sex, rebellion, and Godlessness. Combined with the screaming obscenities of the lyrics, this mesmerizing music has borne the fruit of filth. Leaders of the rock society readily proclaim their degeneracy. …
“And the most diabolical deceit of this infamy is that it denies evil to be an absolute. Our religion is one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy of the ‘liberal Mormons.’ We cannot safely rationalize away righteousness.
“What could be more misguided than fear that ‘if rock music were not endorsed by our leaders, we may lose many young people.’ (MIA music committee.) Even now we are losing them to the songs of Satan, drugs, sex, riot, and apostasy. We could be well reminded by a message from the Mormon Miracle pageant: ‘Moroni knew that you cannot compromise with evil. If you do, evil always wins.’” (Richard Nibley, excerpts from letter.)


This great and momentous responsibility and challenge comes at a most difficult time. Never have the forces of evil been so insidious, widespread, and enticing. Everywhere there seems to be a cheapening, weakening, downgrading of all that is fine, good, and uplifting—all aimed at our youth while many of their parents are lulled away into a false security as they enjoy their comfortable complacency.
All is not well in Zion. The inspired Book of Mormon prophets saw this day and, as watchmen on the towers, issued grave warnings. I quote:
“For behold, at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. …
“Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
“Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
“Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!” (2 Ne. 28:20–22, 24–26.)




I could go on, but it is clear to see how the church creates this environment.   I feel the black and white paradigm is the cause of the "persecution complex" seen in many members.  Oxford dictionary defines persecution complex as;

 

persecution complex

Syllabification: per·se·cu·tion com·plex

noun

An irrational and obsessive feeling or fear that one is the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment on the part of others.
 
This fear, in my opinion, is responsible for the attitudes of racism, bigotry, self righteousness, judging and all other un-Christian behavior seen by members of the Mormon church.  Their offensive behavioral traits, whether shunning, judging, passive agressive behavior, unannounced visits, toxic affections, etc.. can be linked back to this mindset. 
 
This ethos is the driving force behind the church's stance on same sex marriage.  Heaven forbid, we have same sex marriages.  "Gay marriage is taking away my rights", is a common statement made by Mormons.  In what way has your marriage been impacted?  How does someone else's marriage impact yours?  Why stop at gay marriage, it can be applied to a myriad of normal human behaviors. Why is  the person who drinks alcohol less noble in the eyes of a member?  Why is the woman wearing a tank top considered a whore? 
 
This view of the world creates problems that really shouldn't exist.   An example of this,  is the policy of not allowing one man to ride in a car with one woman (unless married/related/dating/engaged).  This policy is to prevent the man and woman from hooking up.  Apparently, a man is so untrustworthy, that he cannot give a woman a ride in his car.  In what universe is this normal?  
 
 
 
The black vs white mentality basically invalidates members of the church as humans.  Because Satan and the world are out to get me, I can't even trust myself to look at a computer screen by myself because I'll probably look at porn.  This mindset is destructive to a person's well being and maturity.  It causes the member to become more isolated in their neighborhood (unless their are lots of members) and communities.  It causes members to "double down" on their faith and become more believing and more committed.  Which leads to more insolent behavior.  Life is not black and white, it has so many other colors.  And everything is better in color.
 
CS 
 
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

He who is without sin cast the first stone....






I can't take it anymore.  I have to give a response to internet celebrity, Matt Walsh.  Self proclaimed blogger extraordinaire, authority on any moral issue, and just about offensive to everyone in cyberspace.  His behavior, to me, is indicative of someone who has an addiction, he just hasn't admitted it.  His addiction is religion.  To be honest, I really hope he honestly doesn't believe what  he posts.  I find it hard to believe that he lacks that much empathy.  I hope he posts his offensive opinions just for the exposure of his blog.  He does have millions of hits--I must give him his props.  My little blog is small potatoes compared to the "Walmart" of religious blogs.  But I must be critical of what he writes, I feel his writing is helping maintain the black & white view of the world that has always led to pain, suffering and suffering.  In my opinion, the effects of that view has been more detrimental on society than most of the so called "sins" he preaches about.

Let's take a look several habits that Mormons/religionists detest and what these habits can do to an individual and/or  loved ones.  The first addiction I am presenting is smoking.  The CDC reports that smoking;

Overview

Smoking:1,2
  • Harms nearly every organ of the body
  • Causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general
Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life.1,2

Smoking and Death

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths.1,2,3
  • Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined:4
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    • Illegal drug use
    • Alcohol use
    • Motor vehicle injuries
    • Firearm-related incidents
  • More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States during its history.1
  • Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men and women.1,2 More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.5
  • About 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are caused by smoking.1
  • Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.1
  • The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in men and women in the United States.1

Smoking and Increased Health Risks

Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
  • Smoking is estimated to increase the risk—
    • For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times1,6
    • For stroke by 2 to 4 times1
    • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times1
    • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times1
  • Smoking causes diminished overall heath, such as self-reported poor health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost.1

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).1,2
  • Smoking causes stroke and coronary heart disease—the leading causes of death in the United States.1
  • Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.1
  • Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up. Clots can also form.1,2
  • A heart attack occurs when a clot blocks the blood flow to your heart. When this happens, your heart cannot get enough oxygen. This damages the heart muscle, and part of the heart muscle can die.1,2
  • A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood flow to part of your brain or when a blood vessel in or around your brain bursts.1,2
  • Blockages caused by smoking can also reduce blood flow to your legs and skin.1,2

Smoking and Respiratory Disease

Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs.1,2
  • Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.1,2
  • Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.1,2
  • If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make an attack worse.1,2
  • Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers.1

Smoking and Cancer

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body:1,2 (See figure above)
  • Bladder
  • Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
  • Cervix
  • Colon and rectum (colorectal)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney and ureter
  • Larynx
  • Liver
  • Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils)
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Trachea, bronchus, and lung
If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.1,2 Smoking increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors.1

Smoking and Other Health Risks

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.1,2
  • Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect her baby's health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for:1,2,5
    • Preterm (early) delivery
    • Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
    • Low birth weight
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
    • Ectopic pregnancy
    • Orofacial clefts in infants
  • Smoking can also affect men's sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage (loss of the pregnancy).2
  • Smoking can affect bone health.1,5
    • Women past childbearing years who smoke have lower bone density (weaker bones) than women who never smoked and are at greater risk for broken bones.
  • Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.1
  • Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see) and age-related macular degeneration (damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision).1
  • Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers.1,2
  • Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body. It can cause inflammation and adverse effects on immune function.1
  • Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.1

Quitting and Reduced Risks

  • Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply.2
  • Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s.2
  • If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years.2
  • Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for lung cancer drops by half.2  

It is sobering to think how damaging an addiction to smoking can be.  It not only affects yourself but those around you with "second hand smoke".    The other interesting point to make is that although this information is very accessible and well known, there are still people who smoke.   This information hasn't deterred everyone from smoking.  I assume they still smoke because it is either a habit, addicted to the product, and/or makes them feel good.

Alcohol, is another easy target for Mormons/Christians.  It is vilified in the Mormon church.  And those that drink, even occasionally, can be judged as being "less than" or weak.  A study in 2011 attempted to quantify the negative effects on alcohol on others.  I'm only posting the abstract;

Surveying the range and magnitude of alcohol's harm to others in Australia.

Abstract

AIMS:

This study aims to document the adverse effects of drinkers in Australia on people other than the drinker.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING:

In a national survey of Australia, respondents described the harmful effects they experienced from drinkers in their households, family and friendship networks, as well as work-place and community settings.

PARTICIPANTS:

A randomly selected sample of 2,649 adult Australians.

MEASUREMENTS:

Problems experienced because of others' drinking were ascertained via computer-assisted telephone interviews. Respondent and drinker socio-demographic and drinking pattern data were recorded.

FINDINGS:

A total of 70% of respondents were affected by strangers' drinking and experienced nuisance, fear or abuse, and 30% reported that the drinking of someone close to them had negative effects, although only 11% were affected by such a person 'a lot'. Women were more affected by someone they knew in the household or family, while men were more affected by strangers, friends and co-workers. Young adults were consistently the most negatively affected across the majority of types of harm.

CONCLUSIONS:

Substantial proportions of Australians are affected by other people's drinking, including that of their families, friends, co-workers and strangers. These harms range in magnitude from noise and fear to physical abuse, sexual coercion and social isolation.
© 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.

This is one study of many, that reveal the effects on alcohol on society.   Mormons/Christians have been beating their chest for years about the dangers of alcohol consumption.  

Pornography is apparently the new disease that is infecting the earth.   I touched briefly on the effects of pornography on the brain previously.   Hell, even the word PORN, generates a disgusted feeling.   To quote Elder Oaks in 2005 general conference;

 We were concerned to see the inroads pornography had made in the United States while we were away. For many years our Church leaders have warned against the dangers of images and words intended to arouse sexual desires. Now the corrupting influence of pornography, produced and disseminated for commercial gain, is sweeping over our society like an avalanche of evil.

He continued;


“Pornographic or erotic stories and pictures are worse than filthy or polluted food. The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food. With a few fatal exceptions, bad food will only make you sick but do no permanent harm. In contrast, a person who feasts upon filthy stories or pornographic or erotic pictures and literature records them in this marvelous retrieval system we call a brain. The brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind and drawing you away from the wholesome things in life.” 1
Here, brethren, I must tell you that our bishops and our professional counselors are seeing an increasing number of men involved with pornography, and many of those are active members. Some involved in pornography apparently minimize its seriousness and continue to exercise the priesthood of God because they think no one will know of their involvement. But the user knows, brethren, and so does the Lord.
Some have suggested that pornography should be a separate question in the temple recommend interview. It is already. At least five different questions should elicit a confession and discussion on this subject if the person being interviewed has the spiritual sensitivity and honesty we expect of those who worship in the house of the Lord.
One of the Savior’s most memorable teachings applies to men who are secretly viewing pornography:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:25–26; see also Alma 60:23).
The Savior continues His denunciation of those who treat what is visible but neglect to cleanse the inner man:
“Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:27–28).
The immediate spiritual consequences of such hypocrisy are devastating. Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood. The Lord declares: “When we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37).
Patrons of pornography also lose the companionship of the Spirit. Pornography produces fantasies that destroy spirituality. “To be carnally minded is death”—spiritual death (Rom. 8:6; see also 2 Ne. 9:39).
The scriptures repeatedly teach that the Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. When we worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” To qualify for that promise we covenant that we will “always remember him” (D&C 20:77). Those who seek out and use pornography for sexual stimulation obviously violate that covenant. They also violate a sacred covenant to refrain from unholy and impure practices. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord to be with them. All such need to heed the Apostle Peter’s plea: “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22).
Brethren, you have noticed that I am not discussing the effects of pornography on mental health or criminal behavior. I am discussing its effects on spirituality—on our ability to have the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord and our capacity to exercise the power of the priesthood.

Here, the Mormon leader makes it quite clear how dangerous, spiritually, pornography can be to members.  Notice, however, he doesn't touch on the psychological effects of illicit pictures.  
Let's leave that to the experts to debate;


Pornography: Beneficial or Detrimental?


It turns out that pornography is good for you.



Inside_Deep_Throat_PosterFor the past several decades, a debate has raged as to whether or not pornography yields deleterious effects at the individual and/or societal levels (e.g., increased negative views toward women; increased rate of sexual crimes against women). In many instances, those who have sought to link pornography to countless ills have been ideologically motivated, as the aggregate scientific evidence hardly supports such conclusions. See chapter 6 of my book The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption (p. 228-235) for some relevant references on pornography.
In today's post, I'd like to briefly report on two recent studies that shed light on the matter. In a paper published in 2009 in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Milton Diamond reviewed a very broad number of studies that have explored the supposed ill effects of pornography. Subsequent to his extensive review, Diamond concludes (p. 312):

"Indeed, the data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes. Further, considering the findings of studies of community standards and wide spread usage of SEM [sexually explicit material], it is obvious that in local communities as nationally and internationally, porn is available, widely used and felt appropriate for voluntary adult consumption. If there is a consensus against pornography it is in regard to any SEM that involves children or minors in its production or consumption. Lastly we see that objections to erotic materials are often made on the basis of supposed actual, social or moral harm to women. No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence."
This is yet another review of the literature that seems to find no societal ill effects of pornography. What about at the individual level? Are women who view pornography terrorized beyond redemption? Do they descend into a well of despair and self-doubt about their sexuality? Do men become misogynist monsters upon viewing pornographic material? Do they develop debilitating penis insecurities at the sight of well-endowed male porn actors? Let's see what Gert Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth found in their 2008 paper titled Self-Perceived Effects of Pornographic Consumption. I should mention that Neil Malamuth is a highly regarded scholar of pornography who has often argued for its supposed ill effects. Hence, if there exists a possibility of an a priori bias here, it would be in hoping to find that pornography yields negative consequences.
In their survey of 688 young Danish adults (men = 316; women = 372), Hald and Malamuth found that respondents construed the viewing of hardcore pornography as beneficial to their sex lives, their attitudes towards sex, their perceptions and attitudes towards members of the opposite sex, toward life in general, and over all. The obtained beneficial effects were statistically significant for all but one measure across both sexes. Now here is the kicker: A positive correlation was obtained between the amount of hardcore pornography that was viewed and the impact of the benefits reaped. This positive correlation was found for both sexes. In other words, the more that one watched porn, the stronger the benefits (for both sexes)! There you have it.
This post should not be construed as my being in favor of pornography, as my personal opinion is irrelevant to the matter at hand. Rather I am reporting on recent data regarding this debate and in so doing I wish to highlight the fact that ideology should never trump scientific evidence.
Source for Image:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7c/Inside_deep_throat_...


The Mormon and Christian rhetoric causes the average member to shun pornography (nothing wrong with that) and vilify those who view and enjoy these forms of entertainment (problem).  I must be clear that I am not advocating pornography, but like the author above, I'm just stating findings from studies. 

What role does religion have in the well being of an individual?  Based on what Matt Walsh writes, he is absolute and certain of things in this life and the next.  His, sometimes harshly judgmental, posts on his blog has ruffled a few feathers.  Those on the conservative, religious right, agree and support his view.  While those on the liberal, left condemn what he writes.    I  feel, in my opinion, that he does lack a real empathy for those who may live standards contrary to his own.  That is their right, and he has every right to state his opinion, but he shouldn't seem surprised and hurt when others call him out for his offensive statements.  A recent example is his post about the suicide of Robin Williams.  His post was well written-but at a difficult and tragic time, perhaps a softer approach is warranted.  

 Being a Mormon my whole life, I have seen the insensitivity of others many times.  My question is, without Mormonism or any religion, would these people behave as they do?  Is a religious addiction causing the offensive behavior in these individuals?  Matt Walsh (a Christian), as well as many Mormons, Christian fundamentalists, religious extremists all show similar behavior.  Is religion to blame?

Let's look at some the evidence;


Personal religious orientation and prejudice.

Allport, Gordon W.; Ross, J. Michael

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 5(4), Apr 1967, 432-443. doi: 10.1037/h0021212


Abstract


  1. 3 generalizations seem well established concerning the relationship between subjective religion and ethnic prejudice: (a) On the average churchgoers are more prejudiced than nonchurchgoers; (b) the relationship is curvilinear; (c) people with an extrinsic religious orientation are significantly more prejudiced than people with an intrinsic religious orientation. With the aid of a scale to measure extrinsic and intrinsic orientation this research confirmed previous findings and added a 4th: people who are indiscriminately proreligious are the most prejudiced of all. The interpretations offered are in terms of cognitive style. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

 I know wikipedia isn't the best go to source, but there are some interesting references  at the bottom of the page about religious orientation;


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A individual's or community's religious orientation involves presumptions about the existence and nature of God or gods, religious prescriptions about morality and communal and personal spirituality. Such presumptions involve the study of psychology, ethics, sociology and anthropology.


Psychology

According to Whitley and Kite, researchers who were interested in studying the psychological effects of religion on prejudice initially studied the relationship between simple indicators of religiosity such as whether or not a person went to church and the level of prejudice that that person showed. Surprisingly these researchers found that "religious involvement was consistently correlated with a variety of forms of prejudice." (Whitley & Kite, 2010) [1]
Naturally these findings were not well received by religious leaders or the religious community in general. It was at this point that there was a clear shift in the nature of the research. Instead of being concerned with factors such as church attendance and the quantity of religious involvement, researchers were now interested in the quality of religious involvement. As Whitley and Kite said, "These ideas evolved into the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientation." (Whitley & Kite, 2010) [2]

Measuring

Allport & Ross developed a means of measuring religious orientation. The Extrinsic measures extrinsic religious orientation (1967).[3] A sample statement from this scale would be “The church is most important as a place to formulate good social relationships” (Whitley & Kite, 2010). This scale brought forth a lot of interest in religious orientations and much research has been done over the years. But as more researchers began studying religious orientation, the more problems that arose with the Intrinsic and Extrinsic scales measuring what they were supposed to be measuring (Hunsberger & Jacson, 2005).[4]

Extrinsic

Extrinsic Religious Orientation is a method of using religion to achieve non-religious goals, essentially viewing religion as a means to an end.[5] It is used by people who go to religious gatherings and claim certain religious ideologies to establish or maintain social networks while minimally adhering to the teachings of the religion. People high in external religious orientation are more likely to conform to social norms and demands rather than what the religion requires, and are often prone to twist religious beliefs to serve their own political goals. Gordon Allport stated that people high in external religious orientation use religion, “to provide security and solace, sociability and distraction, status and self-justification” (Allport &Ross, 1967, p. 434). (Whitley & Kite, 2010)[6]

Prejudice

Hunsberger & Jackson did a review of studies on religious orientation that had taken place since 1990 (2005).[7] Links have been made between prejudice and religious orientation but there have been no agreement on the relationship with intolerance. This is because there are many targets of prejudice, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age. Hunsberger and Jackson have found support for the idea that the target of prejudice is important when looking at prejudice and religious orientation relationships. After careful analysis, they have found that extrinsic orientation is positively related to racial/ethnic and gay/lesbian intolerance. People who measure high in extrinsic religious orientation have a utilitarian approach and view religion as a meaningful source of social status. Having high extrinsic religious orientation means you conform to popular trends, such trends including prejudice. The validity of the religious orientation scales have proved debatable, thus relationships to prejudice have either supported or refuted Allport and Ross's theories (Hunsberger & Jackson, 2005).[8]

Example

An example would be a politician who goes to church in order to gain votes.

Intrinsic

According to Whitley and Kite, a person with an Intrinsic Religious Orientation sincerely believes in their religion and all its teachings and attempt to live their lives as their religion preaches that they should.(Whitley & Kite, 2010)[9] This agrees with what Daniel Batson would say; that while a person with an extrinsic religious orientation sees religion as a means to an end, a person with an intrinsic orientation sees their religion as that end. To them their religion is, "An active directing force, not just a tool used to reach self-serving ends." [10] Those with this orientation find their religion to be the most important aspect of their life and seek to contextualize other aspects of their life through their religion.

Prejudice

Research has found that people who hold an intrinsic religious orientation sincerely believe in and follow the teachings of their religion. They live their religion, and as a result those, "with a strong internal orientation should be unprejudiced to the extent that their religions teach inter group tolerance." Studies have found that these people show either no correlation or a negative correlation for racial prejudice. On the other hand, these same people often show a positive correlation for prejudice against gays.[11] This effect would be predicted, being that while most religions do not speak ill of other races (racism being due to upbringing rather than any Biblical foundation), they do tend to have little regard for homosexuals.
While this research appears more favorable than the research that showed a correlation between religious activity and prejudice, some researchers are convinced that these people are merely showing what they believe to be a more socially acceptable bias.[12] Batson tested this hypothesis by having participants in a study (a study the participants were led to believe was about watching and evaluating a movie) choose whether to sit in a theater with a white confederate, or a black one. There were two conditions in this study, an overt condition in which both theaters were showing the same movie and a covert condition in which each theater was showing a different movie. The researchers believed that a prejudiced person who was attempting to appear unprejudiced would sit with the black confederate when the movie selection was the same in order to appear unprejudiced, but would sit with the white confederate (participants were white) when their choice could be attributed to wanting to watch the different movie. The researchers found that 75% of intrinsically religious participants chose to sit with the black confederate in the overt condition, but only 46% choose to sit with the black confederate in the covert condition. While these results do show that intrinsically motivated people do want to appear racially unbiased, it also shows that they are not racially prejudice in general. Contrary to the religious orientations theory, extrinsic religiosity was unrelated to prejudice in either condition.[13]

Example

An example would be a person who truly believes in their religion and uses this belief to guide them in all other aspects of their life.

Quest orientation

A third religious orientation proposed by Batson is the quest orientation. People with this orientation treats their religion not as a means or an end, but a search for truth. As Batson said, "An individual who approaches religion in this way recognizes that he or she does not know, and probably never will know, the final truth about such matters. Still the questions are deemed important, and however tentative and subject to changes, answers are sought."[14]

Prejudice

Intuitively, it is logical to assume that people who hold a quest orientation would be low in prejudice because by having this orientation they have already shown that they are open-minded and willing to change. This idea was tested alongside the intrinsic and extrinsic orientations by Batson in his theater experiment (described above in the "Intrinsic Religious Orientation and Prejudice" section). People who scored high in quest orientation choose to sit with the black confederate about half the time in both the overt and covert conditions, indicating both a lack of prejudice and a lack of the attempt to appear unprejudiced. To summarize Whitley and Kite as well as Batson, quest orientation appears to be the source of "universal love and compassion" that has long been sought by both religious scholars and researchers interested in the psychology of religion.[15][16]


References


  1. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  2. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  3. Allport, G. W., & Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432-443.
  4. Hunsberger, B., & Jackson, L. M. (2005). Religion, Meaning, and Prejudice. Journal of Social Issues, 61(4), 807-826.
  5. Batson, Daniel (1982). Religion and the Individual. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506208-6.
  6. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  7. Hunsberger, B., & Jackson, L. M. (2005). Religion, Meaning, and Prejudice. Journal of Social Issues, 61(4), 807-826.
  8. Hunsberger, B., & Jackson, L. M. (2005). Religion, Meaning, and Prejudice. Journal of Social Issues, 61(4), 807-826.
  9. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  10. Batson, Daniel (1982). Religion and the Individual. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506208-6.
  11. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  12. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  13. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  14. Batson, Daniel (1982). Religion and the Individual. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506208-6.
  15. Whitley, B.E. & Kite, M.E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  16. Batson, Daniel (1982). Religion and the Individual. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506208-6.
  17. Batson, Daniel (1982). Religion and the Individual. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506208-6.
 Again from wikipedia on the psychology of religion;

Religion and prejudice

To investigate the salience of religious beliefs in establishing group identity, researchers have also conducted studies looking at religion and prejudice. Some studies have shown that greater religious attitudes may be significant predictors of negative attitudes towards racial or social outgroups.[97][98] These effects are often conceptualized under the framework of intergroup bias, where religious individuals favor members of their ingroup (ingroup favoritism) and exhibit disfavor towards members of their outgroup (outgroup derogation). Evidence supporting religious intergroup bias has been supported in multiple religious groups, including non-Christian groups, and is thought to reflect the role of group dynamics in religious identification. Many studies regarding religion and prejudice implement religious priming both in the laboratory and in naturalistic settings [99][100] with evidence supporting the perpetuation of ingroup favoritism and outgroup derogation in individuals who are high in religiosity.
   
  1. Hall, D. L. (Feb 2010). "Why don't we practice what we preach? A meta-analytic review of religious racism.". Personality and Social Psychology Review 14 (1): 126–39. doi:10.1177/1088868309352179. PMID 20018983.
  2. Whitley, Bernard E. (2009). "(full text)". The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC 19 (1): 21–38. doi:10.1080/10508610802471104.
  3. Hall, D.; Matz, D. & Wood, W. (April 2010). "Priming Christian Religious Concepts Increases Racial Prejudice". Social Psychological and Personality Science. vol. 1 no. 2: 119–126. doi:10.1177/1948550609357246.
  4. Jordan P. LaBouffa; W. Rowatt; M. Johnson & C. Finkle (June 18, 2012). "Differences in Attitudes toward Outgroups in Religious and Nonreligious Contexts". Journal for the Psychology of Religion 22 (1): 1–9. 


Religion and physical health

Some studies indicate that religiosity appears to positively correlate with physical health.[71] For instance, mortality rates are lower among people who frequently attend religious events and consider themselves both religious and spiritual.[72] One possibility is that religion provides physical health benefits indirectly. Church attendees present with lower rates of alcohol consumption and improvement in mood, which is associated with better physical health.[73] Kenneth Pargament is a major contributor to the theory of how individuals may use religion as a resource in coping with stress, His work seems to show the influence of attribution theory. Additional evidence suggests that this relationship between religion and physical health may be causal.[74] Religion may reduce likelihood of certain diseases. Studies suggest that it guards against cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure, and also improves immune system functioning.[75] Similar studies have been done investigating religious emotions and health. Although religious emotions, such as humility, forgiveness, and gratitude confer health benefits, it is unclear if religious people cultivate and experience those emotions more frequently than nonreligious peoples.[76]
However, randomized controlled trials of intercessory prayer have not yielded significant effects on health. These trials have compared personal, focused, committed and organized intercessory prayer with those interceding holding some belief that they are praying to God or a god versus any other intervention. A Cochrane collaboration review of these trials concluded that 1) results were equivocal, 2) evidence does not support a recommendation either in favor or against the use of intercessory prayer and 3) any resources available for future trials should be used to investigate other questions in health research.[77] In a case-control study done following 5,286 Californians over a 28-year period in which variables were controlled for (i.e. age, race/ethnicity, gender, education level), participants who went to church on a frequent basis (defined as attending a religious service once a week or more) were 36% less likely to die during that period.[78] However, this can be partly be attributed to a better lifestyle since religious people tend to drink and smoke less and eat a healthier diet.
Another study detailing the connection between religion and physical health was done in Israel as a prospective cohort case study. In a study done of almost 4,000 Israelis, over 16 years (beginning in 1970), death rates were compared between the experimental group (people belonging to 11 religious kibbutzim) versus the control group (people belonging to secular kibbutzim). Some determining factors for the groups included the date the kibbutz was created, geography of the different groups, and the similarity in age. It was determined that “belonging to a religious collective was associated with a strong protective effect".[79] Not only do religious people tend to exert healthier lifestyles, they also have a strong support system that secular people would not normally have. A religious community can provide support especially through a very stressful life event such as the death of a loved one or illness. There is the belief that a higher power will provide healing and strength through the rough times which also can explain the lower mortality rate of religious people vs. secular people.

Religion and personality

Some studies have examined whether there is a “religious personality.” Research suggests that people who identify as religious are more likely to be high on agreeableness and conscientiousness, and low on psychoticism, but unrelated to other Big Five traits. However, people endorsing fundamentalist religious beliefs are more likely to be low on Openness.[80] Similarly, people who identify as spiritual are more likely to be high on Extraversion and Openness, although this varied based on the type of spirituality endorsed.[81]

Religion and mental health

Evidence suggests that religiosity can be a pathway to both mental health and mental disorder. For example, religiosity is positively associated with mental disorders that involve an excessive amount of self-control and negatively associated with mental disorders that involve a lack of self-control.[82] Other studies have found indications of mental health among both the religious and the secular. For instance, Vilchinsky & Kravetz found negative correlations with psychological distress among religious and secular subgroups of Jewish students.[83] In addition, intrinsic religiosity has been inversely related to depression in the elderly, while extrinsic religiosity has no relation or even a slight positive relation to depression. [84] [85]
The link between religion and mental health may be due to the guiding framework or social support that it offers to individuals.[86] By these routes, religion has the potential to offer security and significance in life, as well as valuable human relationships, to foster mental health. Some theorists have suggested that the benefits of religion and religiosity are accounted for by the social support afforded by membership in a religious group.[87]
Religion may also provide coping skills to deal with stressors, or demands perceived as straining. Pargament’s three primary styles of religious coping are 1) self-directing, characterized by self-reliance and acknowledgement of God, 2) deferring, in which a person passively attributes responsibility to God, and 3) collaborative, which involves an active partnership between the individual and God and is most commonly associated with positive adjustment.[88][89] This model of religious coping has been criticized for its over-simplicity and failure to take into account other factors, such as level of religiosity, specific religion, and type of stressor.[90] Additional work by Pargament involves a detailed delineation of positive and negative forms of religious coping, captured in the BREIF-RCOPE questionnaire which have been linked to a range of positive and negative psychological outcomes.[91][92]
Spirituality has been ascribed many different definitions in different contexts, but a general definition is: an individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life. Spirituality is distinct from organized religion in that spirituality does not necessarily need a religious framework. That is, one does not necessarily need to follow certain rules, guidelines or practices to be spiritual, but an organized religion often has some combination of these in place. People who report themselves to be spiritual people may not observe any specific religious practices or traditions.[93] Studies have shown a negative relationships between spiritual well-being and depressive symptoms. In one study, those who were assessed to have a higher spiritual quality of life on a spiritual well-being scale had less depressive symptoms.[94] Cancer and AIDS patients who were more spiritual had lower depressive symptoms than religious patients. Spirituality shows beneficial effects possibly because it speaks to one’s ability to intrinsically find meaning in life, strength, and inner peace, which is especially important for very ill patients.[95] Studies have reported beneficial effects of spirituality on the lives of patients with schizophrenia, major depression, and other psychotic disorders. Schizophrenic patients were less likely to be re-hospitalized if families encouraged religious practice, and in depressed patients who underwent religiously based interventions, their symptoms improved faster than those who underwent secular interventions. Furthermore, a few cross-sectional studies have shown that more religiously involved people had less instance of psychosis.[96]


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Koenig, H. G. (2008) Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: A review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.                                                                                                                                                                                                       Is religion all bad?  Of course not, there are some redeeming qualities in all religions.   We can always find good in almost everything.  An occasional glass of wine has been shown to have benefits.  Several recent studies have shown how good coffee is for you.  Even smokers have been shown to have a lower obesity rate.  Mormonism/religion is no different.  Sure it has benefits, but when people begin to become intolerant,  judgemental, prejudiced and self righteous, maybe it has become an addiction.  In my opinion, Matt Walsh may need an intervention and admit himself into a 12 step program. 


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