Archive for the ‘health’ Category

7 ways congregations can embrace people with special needs

Faith communities appear to have fallen behind the larger society in their understanding and inclusion of people with disabilities. But research is revealing several ways – beginning with attitudes of love and acceptance – that just about any congregation can be more inclusive.

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Leaning inward: Mothers at the margins find hope, support in faith

Research lifting up the experiences of mothers facing hardships, whether in a homeless shelter in the Southwest, or in a maximum-security prison in the Midwest, or ostracized with AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, suggests many women rely on religion and spirituality for a pathway beyond despair to having a sense of hope for the future. Their stories reveal a powerful faith that provides a vision of a better life for them and their children.

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Holy self-worth: Studies find religion promotes healthy body image for young women

Forget looking like Kate Moss. A developing body of research suggests faith can provide a safe haven from a secular culture that encourages women to fit into a body type that comes naturally to only about one in 20 females. Worship, prayer and a strong sense of the importance of religion may help teens and 20-somethings with eating disorders overcome feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, one new study indicated.

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Online tool helps make sense of the great American middle in abortion debate

Scholars, journalists and the general public have a new tool to determine what trends are emerging as a national consensus on controversial topics such as abortion, homosexuality and the mix of science and religion. The Measurement Wizard of the Association of Religion Data Archives allows users to browse available ARDA data from some 7,700 questions asked in more than 750 major national and international surveys to analyze the major findings on hot-topic issues in religion and public life.

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Media matters: R-rated films, violent video games may lower religious practice of teens, young adults

Can a steady diet of watching movies such as “Ted” and “Saw” through “Saw VI” or playing violent video games keep young people out of the pews? The answer may be yes, according to studies suggesting the viewing choices young people make also can influence their spiritual lives. It is more complex than a simple “content in, action out” principle where young people emulate the behavior they see on screen. Still, researchers are finding many young adults appear to struggle with the radically different messages of “Machete Kills” or “Grand Theft Auto” and the Sermon on the Mount.

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Divine support may reduce parental stress, increase satisfaction

Do religious teachings set up impossibly high standards that increase parental guilt. Or does the idea God stands with them in times of both joy and anxiety reduce stress and lead to increased parental satisfaction? The answer is a little of both. But new research suggests that there is a positive relation between some faith practices and beliefs and being a happier mom or dad.

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Demon rum: Study finds alcohol may release aggression in religious individuals

Religious beliefs and practices in general are associated with more compassionate behavior toward others. And a new study of religion, alcohol and violence revealed that religious folks who were not under the influence were the most likely to turn the other cheek. However, the researchers also found that religious individuals who were intoxicated were the most likely to display aggression. “We uncovered a darker, more counterintuitive, side of religiosity’s influence on aggression,” they reported.

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More than a platitude: Praying for others promotes hope, optimism, studies suggest

What does it mean when someone says, “My prayers are with you.” More than one might imagine, it turns out, particularly when the pledge comes from someone near to the person suffering, new research suggests. One national study found that people who were prayed for by someone close to them were the most optimistic about their future – even though individuals receiving prayer were more likely to be facing adversity such as mental or physical health issues or unemployment.

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Religion and mercy: Who is most likely to forgive?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The line from The Lord’s Prayer relating divine and personal forgiveness has substantial practical implications, new research shows. Individuals who believe that a loving God forgives them are far more likely to turn around and absolve others, several studies indicate. Trust in God’s forgiveness also may make it more likely for individuals to forgive themselves, a process that seems to make it easier to extend mercy to others.

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