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;


  • 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.



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


Cross-sectional survey.


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.


A randomly selected sample of 2,649 adult Australians.


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


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.


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:

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


  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.


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]


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 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]


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]


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


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.


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]


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]


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]


  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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