It's no surprise that religion can help people through tough times, but new research shows it doesn't help as much when things are good. In societies that are under stress, religious people are happier and outnumber non-religious people, according to University of Illinois psychologists. Lead author Ed Diener explains:
"Circumstances predict religiousness. Difficult circumstances lead more strongly to people being religious and in religious societies and in difficult circumstances, religious people are happier than non-religious people. But in non-religious societies or more benign societies where many people's needs are met, religious people aren't happier — everyone's happier."
Even within the U.S., more people say they're religious in poorer states. Mississippi has the highest portion of people who say religion is an important part of their daily lives with 88%, and Vermont has the lowest with 44%.
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