Religion isn’t a crutch. It’s a connection. That’s the conclusion of researchers at Ohio State University who refute the criticism of people from Karl Marx to Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura that faith is for the weak.
They found that while religiously minded types had a strong desire for interdependence with others, that was not related to any desire for weakness. Religious folk scored low in tests for independence–“probably reflecting their desire for dependence on God,” researchers stated–but were average when it came to power–“implying they do not seek submission to leaders,” said study co-author Steven Reiss.
The professor of psychology and psychiatry led research that examined how 558 students and professionals rated 15 separate fundamental desires and values, from sex to spirituality. The results are published in the latest issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Independence was the motivating desire that stood out above all others.
“People who score high on independence want to make their own decisions,” Reiss said. “They don’t normally enjoy having to rely on other people. In contrast, religious people seek strength by relying on the help of others, including God.”
Religious people wanted to be connected to others, though, researchers found.
“The writings of many religions express the desire to become one with God, to merge yourself into a great reality. People who find that appealing are not likely to put as great a value on independence.”