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Harvard Doctor Says Religion May Be a ‘Miracle Drug’

In 2016, Harvard professor Tyler J. VanderWeele and journalist John Siniff wrote a USA Today op-ed entitled “Religion May Be a Miracle Drug.” The piece begins, “If one could conceive of a single elixir to improve the physical and mental health of millions of Americans—at no personal cost—what value would our society place on it?”

The authors go on to outline the mental and physical health benefits that are correlated with regular religious participation. For most Americans, going to church reduced mortality rates by 20-30 percent over a fifteen-year period. Research suggests that those who regularly attend services are more optimistic, have lower rates of depression, are less likely to commit suicide, have a greater purpose in life, are less likely to divorce, and are more self-controlled.

Source: Tyler VanderWeele and John Siniff, “Religion may be a miracale drug,” USA Today (8-28-16); Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion,” (Crossway, 2019), p. 21

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