Faith's funny side: 9-16-2008
Nature's dependable laws: 9-18-2008

Is religion a downer? 9-17-2008

Over the years, I've seen tons of studies that suggest religion is good for your health, that it gives you a sense of balance and that it will keep squirrels out of your birdfeeders.


Well, maybe not the last thing, but the health benefits of religion are widely attested to. (For some discussion of that from a Christian apologetics perspective, click here.)

Now, however, comes a study from Ohio State University that offers something of a counter view. It suggests that young people from racial minority groups who are religiously active may be more susceptible to depression.

I think it's always a good idea not to draw too broad a conclusion from such studies because they may simply be anomalies or they may eventually be tempered by other studies that looked at a broader sample or something.

Still, in this case I can see some basis for the conclusion in that it appears that beliefs being taught by religion are running up against different and contrasting messages from the culture. Because adolescents may not be mature enough yet to know how to process those differences or to discern when the religion is right versus when the culture is right, the result may well be some kind of angst.

What's your experience either as an adolescent or as a parent of one or more when it comes to how to deal with clashes between religious values and the surrounding culture?

* * *


When the Times of India sent a reporter to talk with people about a terrorist bombing in New Delhi a few days ago, some of the Muslim people quoted repeated what most American Muslims have been saying since 9/11 -- Islam does not encourage or approve of terrorism. Which, of course, is true, even though some radicals who call themselves Muslims don't believe it.

* * *

P.S.: I mentioned here the other day that a DVD called "Obsession" about radical Islam was distributed as paid advertising by many newspapers around the country. But Editor & Publisher, which covers the newspaper industry, reports that one paper, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina, refused to distribute the controversial product because the publisher thought it was divisive and "plays on people's fears."

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.


adam harrison

Fascinating study, Bill.

I would suggest that the opposite, atheism, could be the biggest "downer" of all, because what could be more depressing than thinking that "this is it" and that there is no ultimate justice in the world.

Joe Barone

Those of us who struggle with anxiety-related depression (even moderately) can probably affirm that in some ways, doctrinal religions don't help. For me personally, the most helpful approach has been Insight Meditation which comes out of Buddhism. It is practice-oriented, not doctrine-oriented. It has no vested interest in making you feel guilty.

I regret that I came upon Insight Meditation so late in my life.

Joe Barone

Short takes--

--Good for the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina!

--Reasonable levels of anxiety are not bad. My own anxieties help me be empathetic with others. They also fuel my writing hobby which is to write mystery fiction.

--If we believe the lie that all Islamic people are terrorists, we will always be fighting. We will never find reconciliation.


How do Christians stop Hurricane Ike?

Dolores Lear

Is Religion a Downer? Or the Unequal Spread of God's Resources and Wealth?

God's Daily Promise, 9/17/08. This Week's Promise: God will live among us with great joy. Have you known joy even in the midst of trouble?

"We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.… For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:14-18 NLT"

"Too easily pleased. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is not part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. C. S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory"

What Earthly Blessings give Lasting Joy?

adam harrison

KCFreethinker is our old pal Iggy, who bragged about being the same over at the old heartland humanists forums, which had to shut down.

I only mention this so posters will realize he is trying to derail the discussions, as he has stated that this is his tactic on what he perceives as Christian blogs. He was raised in an officially atheistic environment which left him with a deep hatred of all religion, so he should not be taken too seriously.

I feel sorry for him sometimes, and actually get a kick out of his posts.

Dolores Lear

Why are the Racial Youth today, who were given an Unequal Feeling of Equality, having a Religious Downer? Also, Many Religious Adults are Changing to be Atheists.

How can Youth and Adults Compete with the Population Explosion? How can the 'Have Not' Youth and Adults, Compete with the Humans who 'Have' three and four times their Needs?

The Pressure of All the Adult Heterosexual Male and Female Pleasure Flesh Lusts, In and Out of Marriage, have made the Population Explosion.

LGBT Sex does not Reproduce. So Heterosexuals should Change to that type of Flesh Lust, to stop this Population Explosion, or the Population Will Be Thinned Down, by a Human Planetary Nuclear War.

Are God's Resources on Earth, Endless, or Limited to Earth's Population?

Are the Blessed Adults, with More than their Fair Share, Willing to give up their Blessings from God, to help the Starving and Homeless Poor, and the Start the Re-Greening of God's Nature System?

Are Humans using up God's Resources on Land, Sea, and in the Atmosphere, with their 7 Billion Humans by 2011?

What is going to be the Result of all their Excessive Material 'Things', and Nuclear Weapons on land and sea?

Does God only Bless the Rich? Because Most Humans do not Believe in the Right Christian God? Atheist and other Religious Humans are Rich also, by their God and No God.

Was it easier to Follow God with Joy, when God Blessed the USA with more than other countries? Many Poor Humans that could just get by, started having Credit for "Things", the Blessings from God.

Now that Man's Credit made a problem of Greed, with more than one of everything, the Joy of Possessing God's Blessings, is breaking the Bank.

Just Thinking


KCFreeThinker is like everyone else on this blog. KCFreeThinker expresses beliefs and attitudes, corrects beliefs and attitudes that he/she believes are wrong, and reinforces ones that he/she believes are correct. All of the recent posts of KCFreeThinker have been thoughtful and interesting. I see no reason to ignore the posts or to not take them seriously. So, adamh, I believe you are wrong when you say that KCFreeThinker should be ignored.

Why have you chosen to show up just as KCFreeThinker showed up? Do you exist only to follow and antagonize?


The discussion forum at is not the Heartland Humanists forum as HH do not have any relationship with the site. That site is run by a private individual who may or may not be an HH member. This was covered many times here and on the KCFreeThought blog, don't know why it's not getting through to some people.

adam harrison

I have to disagree, JT. His posts have hardly been thoughtful, although they ARE interesting.

They contain deliberate misrepresentations of scripture, and smears of Christians all in one swipe. If you will look at the Atheist Nexus, you will see what he is saying about you AND Bill's blog. His intention is to derail.

Did you see his you tube link ridiculing Christians? Is that "thoughtful."

By the way, are you suggesting that I can not comment on what he is doing?

adam harrison

Because it is inaccurate, that's why.

The HH forum FOLDED, but you commented on it regularly.

adam harrison

By the way, Iggy, I have the print outs for those forums and can send them to anyone interested.


What is inaccurate? That Heartland Humanists did not own the blog? This is truly delusional, adamh. The web site is owned by another individual and HH have nothing to do with that site or that blog. You need to establish the facts and not have faith in your delusions.

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