Happiness Is Regular Church Meetings, Not Belief in Salvation
It might be argued that in America religion still refers overwhelmingly to Christianity, Christianity promises believers salvation and eternal life, and impressionable people buy into it. They’re happy because they think they are saved and will go to heaven, but there’s no substance to that happiness. The data are not consistent with that hypothesis.
First, believing in salvation and heaven isn’t enough. People who self-identify as fundamentalists—meaning that they definitely believe in salvation and heaven—but who attend church no more than once a year have a “very happy” percentage (22 percent) that is almost as low as for nonbelievers. Second, the relationship of religious attendance to self-reported happiness is almost as strong for people who identify themselves as religious moderates or liberals (meaning that their confidence in salvation and heaven is likely to be dodgy) as it is for fundamentalists—47 percent of fundamentalists who attend church weekly or more report they are very happy, compared to 42 percent of religious moderates and 41 percent of religious liberals.’