Belief in an Angry God Now Linked to Mental Illness

Believers in an angry deity display a higher rate of anxiety disorders

This April's issue of the Journal of Religion and Health witnessed the publication of a new study stating that there is a link between the belief in an angry God and mental illness.

More precisely, the study maintains that believers in an angry deity also display higher rates of disorders such as social dysfunction, paranoia, obsession and compulsion, all of which boil down to noteworthy levels of anxiety.

According to The Examiner, Professor Nava Silton of the Marymount Manhattan College and her colleagues have reached these conclusions following their analyzing data collected during the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults.

Thus, Professor Nava Silton focused on three different categories of people: those who believe in an angry God, those who believe in a loving deity and those who work on the assumption that God is a neutral entity.

“Three beliefs about God were tested separately in ordinary least squares regression models to predict five classes of psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion,” reads the abstract for this paper.

Furthermore, “Belief in a punitive God was positively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, while belief in a benevolent God was negatively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, controlling for demographic characteristics, religiousness, and strength of belief in God. Belief in a deistic God and one’s overall belief in God were not significantly related to any psychiatric symptoms.”

The link between the belief in an angry God and mental illness was studied in the context of the Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, which states that anxiety disorders are mainly the result of the brain's not properly interpreting threats.

Professor Nava Silton wished to stress the fact that her research does not establish causation between the belief in an angry deity and anxiety disorders.

Quite the contrary, the study merely pins down a correlation between the two.

“That means we’re not saying belief caused psychiatric symptoms, but we see relationships between beliefs and these psychiatric symptoms,” the Professor emphasized.

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