Beliefs About God and Mental Health Among American Adults

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

The conduct of this research and the preparation of this manuscript for publication were made possible through the generous support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to HealthCare Chaplaincy, NY, NY: ID# 21296, “Spiritual Beliefs as Predictors of Mental Health: A Test of ETAS Theory” (Kevin J. Flannelly, Ph.D., and Kathleen Galek, Ph.D., Co-PI’s). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

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Correspondence to Nava R. Silton.

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Silton, N.R., Flannelly, K.J., Galek, K. et al. Beliefs About God and Mental Health Among American Adults. J Relig Health 53, 1285–1296 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-013-9712-3

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Keywords

  • Beliefs
  • ETAS theory
  • General anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Obsession–compulsion
  • Paranoia
  • Religion