Increased Wellbeing from Social Interaction in a Secular Congregation

Aug 14, 2018

By Michael E. Price and Jacques Launay

Abstract

Religiosity appears to benefit wellbeing, potentially due to social support offered by religious communities. However, rising secularism implies that fewer people have access to these benefits. To address this problem, we investigated whether these benefits could also be obtained from membership in a secular, quasi-religious community. We conducted a longitudinal study among 92 members of the Sunday Assembly (SA), an international organization of secular congregations. SA members assemble in large services and in smaller interest groups that offer more face-to-face interaction. Once a month for six months, participants completed a questionnaire measuring wellbeing and participation in both SA and non-SA social activities. Panel analysis of longitudinal data revealed that participation in SA small-group activities positively influenced wellbeing over the six-month period, particularly among males. Participation in non-SA social activities, in contrast, had no effect on wellbeing. Aspects of the Sunday service that members perceived as most important, both for creating a sense of community and for friendship formation, were the informal socialising and cooperating that occurs before and after the service itself. Secular congregations may be a viable alternative for non-religious people (and perhaps especially men) who seek the health benefits that religious communities have traditionally offered.

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One comment on “Increased Wellbeing from Social Interaction in a Secular Congregation”

  • @OP – Religiosity appears to benefit wellbeing, potentially due to social support offered by religious communities.
    However, rising secularism implies that fewer people have access to these benefits.
    To address this problem, we investigated whether these benefits could also be obtained from membership in a secular, quasi-religious community.

    The real issue, is that religious organisations seek to monopolise community gatherings where people gather for social interactions, and seek tax-exemptions and subsidies, to eliminate competing secular community centres which provide social meeting places without religious proselytising.

    That is why religious groups actively oppose state or local authority taxpayer funding, to provide such community services, and why using commercially run meeting places, such as hotels, is more expensive.

    Some of the god-deluded volunteers provide their services for “free”, but at a terrible mental cost to those who take the bait and succumb to their recruitment strategies.

    Their are plenty of groups related to hobbies, clubs, and social activities, which do not include participation in self-deluding supernatural thinking!



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