Applying the same happiness index as before (% very happy – % not too happy), the following graph shows self-reported happiness by frequency of religious service attendance. For contemporary relevance responses are from 2000 onward and to avoid racial confounding only non-Hispanic whites are considered:
As in the case of marital status, controlling for age does not attenuate the relationship. To the contrary, it actually modestly strengthens it, especially among younger cohorts.
Okay, but belonging to a church creates a sense of community. Maybe the benefits are entirely secular rather than spiritual.
Yeah, maybe. Score one for Pascal, then.
On the other hand, belief alone is associated with higher levels of self-reported happiness. Happiness indices by theistic orientation using the same parameters:
Ignorance is bliss? Again, maybe. Score one for Lisa, then.
Destroy marriage, destroy the church, destroy theism–if I didn’t know better, I might think immiseration was the objective. Time to start painting everything blue.
GSS variables used: ATTEND(0)(1-2)(3-4)(5-6)(7-8), GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), RACECEN1(1), HISPANIC(1), HAPPY, AGE