Jerry Newcombe
Want a better life? Go to church
By Jerry Newcombe
January 5, 2023

Is religion good for society? One man who would answer in the affirmative is Gouverneur Morris, the founding father who spoke at the Constitutional Convention more than anyone else. He originated the phrase “we the people of the United States.”

He once said something that virtually all of the founding fathers would have agreed with: “Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man toward God.”

How is the church good for society? Through the years I have asked Dr. Byron Johnson of Baylor about the impact of faith on society. He has taught at Vanderbilt, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton. For the last several years, he has headed up Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR).

Baylor's website describes ISR's mission this way: “Baylor ISR exists to initiate, support, and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum.”

In a radio segment, Dr. Johnson told me, “Churches are phenomenally important to society and important in so many different ways.” That includes volunteering and charitable giving. He told me that Americans give more than a billion dollars a day to charities—much of that coming from church-goers.

Johnson added, “If you just look at dollars and contributions, it’s staggering. One study shows that religion brings about 1.2 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy each year.”

Johnson keeps abreast of the psychological and sociological studies on the impact of church on society. For example, Oxford University Press published a study two years ago showing the positive impact of church-going on the health of individuals.

They found that “compared with those who never attended religious services, individuals who attended services at least once per week had a lower risk of all-cause mortality by 26%...heavy drinking by 34%...and current smoking by 29%.”

The study also found that depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and loneliness—as well as physical maladies like hypertension, heart disease, and strokes—were lower in those who regularly attended church, while satisfaction with life, social connection, and a feeling of purpose were higher.

In short, living for Christ is good for you. Not that we live for Christ in order to live longer or lives with a higher quality. But that apparently is a happy by-product.

We live for Christ because He who is divine became human, lived a perfect life, and died in our place, so that we might be forgiven for our sins through faith in Him. He sealed the deal by rising from the dead and will one day return.

Dr. Johnson has written a scholarly book highlighting the kind of research featured in the study cited above. It’s called “Objective Religion.” The ignorant may rail against church—and surely there are many who have bad experiences at church because of abusive leadership. But the studies show that, all things being equal, the Gospel really is good for you.

Another man who studied the impact of religion on society came to Baylor because of Johnson. Dr. Rodney Stark, who died in July, wrote many books documenting religion’s impact.

One of my favorites was his 2012 tome, America's Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists. On a vacation once, I read the book carefully and took many notes.

Stark writes, "Americans benefit immensely from being an unusually religious people—blessings that not only fall upon believers but also on those Americans who most oppose religion. In America, militant atheists are far less likely to have their homes broken into or to be robbed on their way to work than they would be in an irreligious society, because of the powerful deterrent effects of religion on crime."

He also adds, “Religious Americans also enjoy superior physical health, having an average life expectancy more than seven years longer than that of the irreligious”

Another scholar who has also been studying the impact of faith on society for years is author Dr. Joseph Loconte. He has written for the Heritage Foundation, taught at The King’s College in New York City, and is now a distinguished visiting professor at Grove City College.

He told me, “Skeptics and secular critics of Christianity have to circumvent an awful lot of history to argue that political societies are better off without it. The rights and freedoms that our secular friends take for granted—freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, government by consent—grew from philosophical soil that was watered by biblical religion….Take away the Christian ethic of love of neighbor—even love of enemy—and you sweep away nearly everything that makes modern life tolerable and humane.”

Atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris see the increasing secularization of our culture as a good thing. But in reality, ostracizing faith and marginalizing churches will ultimately only harm all of us. Literally.

© Jerry Newcombe


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Jerry Newcombe

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of the Providence Forum, an outreach of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air host. He has written/co-written 33 books, including George Washington's Sacred Fire (with Providence Forum founder Peter Lillback, Ph.D.) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.). @newcombejerry


Receive future articles by Jerry Newcombe: Click here

More by this author


Stephen Stone
HAPPY EASTER: A message to all who love our country and want to help save it

Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
FLASHBACK to 2020: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Curtis Dahlgren
Hammer & Tickle: A cultural history of Communism by Ben Lewis, 2009

Jerry Newcombe
The Bible and public policy

Frank Louis
Frank’s fair trade theory: Replacement theory for everyone

Pete Riehm
When the government is lawless, the people turn to an outlaw

Victor Sharpe
The left's lies: A warning for America's very survival

Michael Gaynor
Who Will Make the Finals and Win the Upcoming Presidential Race?

Stephen Stone
‘Teach Your Own’

James Lambert
Illegal alien entry through California border has dramatically increased of late

Rev. Mark H. Creech
‘No other gods before me’: The first commandment’s national significance

Linda Goudsmit
CHAPTER 23: Legalizing pedophilia—The Sorensen Report

Randy Engel
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part IX

Jerry Newcombe
A politically-incorrect prayer
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites