Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 1285–1296

Beliefs About God and Mental Health Among American Adults


    • Department of PsychologyMarymount Manhattan College
  • Kevin J. Flannelly
    • Center for Psychosocial Research
  • Kathleen Galek
    • The Spears Research Institute, Healthcare Chaplaincy
  • Christopher G. Ellison
    • Department of SociologyThe University of Texas at San Antonio
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-013-9712-3

Cite this article as:
Silton, N.R., Flannelly, K.J., Galek, K. et al. J Relig Health (2014) 53: 1285. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9712-3


This study examines the association between beliefs about God and psychiatric symptoms in the context of Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, using data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults (N = 1,426). Three beliefs about God were tested separately in ordinary least squares regression models to predict five classes of psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. Belief in a punitive God was positively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, while belief in a benevolent God was negatively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, controlling for demographic characteristics, religiousness, and strength of belief in God. Belief in a deistic God and one’s overall belief in God were not significantly related to any psychiatric symptoms.


BeliefsETAS theoryGeneral anxietySocial anxietyObsession–compulsionParanoiaReligion

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013