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Neal Krause Lecture: Religion and Health

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Religion and Health:
Exploring the Pivotal Role of Social Relationships in the Church

April 8, 2014
10:30 am
Armstrong Browning Library/Cox Lecture Hall

A growing body of research indicates that greater involvement in religion is associated with better physical and mental health. However, religion is a complex phenomenon and as a result, researchers have yet to explain how the potentially beneficial effects of religion arise. I will argue that social relationships in congregations play a key role in this respect. I will develop this argument by addressing three issues.  First, I will highlight the central place that church-based social relationships occupy in religious life. Second, I will identify other explanatory factors in the literature (e.g., religious coping responses) and show how they arise from social relationships in the church. Third, I will discuss my new research agenda which involves tracing the genesis of church-based social ties to classic religious virtues (e.g., humility, compassion). Viewed broadly, my intent is to sketch out a “causal” sequence that begins with virtues, runs through church-based social relationships and the other explanatory mechanisms, to health.

Neal Krause, Ph.D., is the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan. He has conducted a series of nationwide surveys that were designed to explore the potential relationship between religion and health among older Whites, older Blacks, and Older Mexican Americans. Dr. Krause has published extensively on this issue.