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AFA: New research shows the health value of church attendance in the face of ‘deaths of despair’

Monday, January 23, 2023 @ 08:51 AM

TUPELO, Miss. — Church attendance is often the difference between living longer or dying sooner, according to new research about “deaths of despair” caused by self-destructive drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. Data analysis shows a powerful link between decreasing church attendance and increasing deaths due to despair among middle-aged white Americans, according to researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

American Family Association (AFA, Executive Vice President Ed Vitagliano said believers have the real message of life for those in despair. 

“It is clear that in the midst of tens of millions of Americans, there is a deep loneliness that fills the lives of countless people,” Vitagliano commented. “The ‘God-shaped hole’ can’t be filled by other people, of course, but the Church body can be a place where people share their burdens with others. The Church in America needs to look outward and find these lonely souls and invite them into the presence of the God who loves them.”

This desperate trend started in the mid-1990s and continues. One of the vital antecedents identified by researchers was the repeal of Blue Laws, which in turn allowed vastly expanded commercial activity on Sundays, and therefore a surge of people not attending church services. The study concludes saying its “results underscore the importance of cultural institutions such as religious establishments in promoting well-being.”

For over 40 years, AFA has operated within the mission to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission.  Founded in 1977, AFA has long been on the front lines of America’s culture war. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country, with nearly a million online supporters and approximately 110,000 subscribers to The Stand (formerly known as the AFA Journal), the ministry’s monthly magazine.  Find AFA Action Alerts here.  In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 180 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio banner. 

View the media page for AFA here. For more information on American Family Association, visit or follow AFA on Facebook or Twitter @AmericanFamAssc.        


To interview an AFA spokesperson, contact, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.  


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