Jerry Newcombe

The study reported: “People who attended religious services at least once a week were 46 percent less likely to die during the six-year study, says lead author Harold G. Koenig, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. ‘When we controlled for such things as age, race, how sick they were and other health and social factors, there was still a 28 percent reduction in mortality,’ he says.”

Koenig added that going to church a regular basis is just as good for you as not smoking.

In another study, reported in, they found the same basic results. Going to church on a regular basis adds years to your life. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, the researchers found “that regular churchgoers live longer than people who seldom or never attend worship services.” adds: “The research showed that people who never attended services had an 87 percent higher risk of dying during the follow-up period than those who attended more than once a week. The research also revealed that women and blacks can enjoy especially longer lives if they are religiously active.”

I once interviewed Dr. Byron Johnson, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania, then later Princeton, and now at Baylor University. He is an excellent social scientist, who studies the scientifically quantifiable effects of faith on people’s lives.

He said to me, “We reviewed over 770 studies on religion to see what the impact was. Not just a handful, not hand-selected studies, every study that we could find. And that’s when we came up with the conclusion that about 85 percent show a beneficial effect.” He summarized his findings in a publication, entitled, Objective Hope.

Dr. Johnson said that the studies show that if you go to church on a regular basis, you’ll add seven years to your life, if you’re white. If you’re black, you’ll add 14 years to your life.

This reminds me of a classic study from about 15 years ago written up in a major news magazine. The cover story of an issue of US News and World Report was entitled “The Faith Factor.” The subtitle was: “Can Churches Cure America’s Social Ills?”

In that article, they noted this: “What’s the surest guarantee that an African-American urban youth will not fall to drugs or crime? Regular church attendance turns out to be a better predictor than family structure or income, according to a study by Harvard University economist Richard Freeman. Call it the ‘faith factor.’”

The magazine also reported that “Frequent churchgoers are about 50 percent less likely to report psychological problems and 71 percent are less likely to be alcoholics.”

Ponce de Leon thought water from a spring in the land of the flowers might give him longer life. It turns out longer life for most of us might be just as close to us as the neighborhood church.

Jerry Newcombe

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library and a Christian TV producer.