Religion, well-being, and stigma



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This research examines the association between religion and well-being. Religion is generally understood as positively associated with individual and social life. Conversely, religious individuals and organizations can create stigma and shame. Stigma and shame seem especially prevalent for alleged sexual sins and among Christian fundamentalists. This research explores the dynamics within the relationship between religion and health. Data from the 2004-2018 General Social Survey are used to explore the association between measures of religion, measures of well-being, measures of alcohol and drug use, and sexual behavior. Church attendance is positively associated with companionship and happiness (social support) but negatively associated with substance use and counter-normative sexual behavior (social control). When comparing findings on Christian fundamentalist versus moderate Christian groupings, research suggest Southern Baptists (fundamentalist) are somewhat less happy than United Methodists (moderates). Results also indicate a statistically significant decrease in happiness among Southern Baptists who have cheated on their spouses versus Southern Baptists who haven’t. However, the happiness of Southern Methodists who report spousal infidelity is not significantly different from southern Methodists who have not cheated on their spouse. This illustrates a potentially stigmatizing association between belief and behavior among Christian Fundamentalists. Results indicate that positive well-being is associate with increased social solidarity, social control, and is reduced by stigma.



Stigma, Shame, Religion, Fundamentalism, Christianity