Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

Nourish the soul or damage the body? Belief in the connection between Christian moral failure and diminished health

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Scholars have increasingly noted mechanisms by which religion may be detrimental to one’s health, but few have explored how individuals understand linkages between religious involvement and adverse health. Using data gathered from telephone interviews with Protestants and Catholics in North Carolina and South Carolina, we explore how individuals understand the role of religious moral failure in shaping health consequences. When asked to discuss the relationship between religion and health, 23 respondents described experiences or beliefs regarding how failing to meet the expectations of their religion corresponded with a range of reduced mental and physical health outcomes. Findings underscore the need for additional research on the role of religious involvement and life course experiences in shaping expectations that health declines result from moral failure.


© The Author(s) 2018

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Social Compass