A third of Americans and nearly half of evangelical, fundamentalist or born-again Christians believe the power of prayer and Bible study is so strong they can heal mental illnesses, according to a recent survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
The survey also found that 68 percent of Americans would feel welcome in church if they were mentally ill. Those who never attend church services are least likely to agree that churches welcome those with mental illnesses.
President of LifeWay Research Ed Stetzer he is glad churches are seen as a welcome place for those with depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. He worries, however, “that some Christians see mental illness as a character flaw rather than medical condition,” according to LifeWay’s blog.
Just last week Rick and Kay Warren, whose son Matthew committed suicide on April 5, spoke to CNN’s Piers Morgan about their Christian faith and their mission to de-stigmatize mental illness.
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“I never questioned my faith in God; I questioned God’s plan,” Rick Warren said in the interview. “God isn’t to blame for my son’s death. My son took his life. It was his choice.”
More than half of Americans believe that churches should do more to prevent suicide in America, according to the poll. But other Americans, among them Evangelicals and fundamentalists, believe prayer can prevent mental illnesses.
The survey conducted from Sept. 6 to 10, LifeWay asked four questions about mental illness as part of a telephone survey of 1,001 Americans. Thirty-five percent of those participants agreed with the statement, “With just Bible study and prayer, ALONE, people with serious mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia could overcome mental illness.”
Fifty percent of 18-29 years old say prayer and Bible study could overcome mental illness, while only 30 percent of 55-64 year olds agree with that statement.
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Just over half say of 18-29 year olds said someone close to them has experienced mental illness but only 37 percent over 65 said they do.
Sources: LifeWay Research, CNN