People with religious faith tend to be happier than those without?

Although I have deepest respect to Jonathan Haidt and his work, there is something that he claims I cannot quite figure out. How can something that brings guilt, terror, humiliation and fear of eternal punishment make someone feel happy? Not just happy, but happier then those without it? Haidt, being an atheist himself, doesn't explain the phenomenon, he just states this fact. The research he talks about in his book seems to be legitimate though
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/opinion/17kristof.html?em

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Maybe the issue isn't so much with the religious being happier as it is with the unreligious being unhappier. There's a much greater proportion, I should think, of non-believers that have no social outlets since they live in religious areas, and being told by most people you know that you're incapable of morality and deserving of eternal torture probably doesn't help much with the happiness thing, either.

Does the same phenomenon occur with blacks vs whites, or homosexuals vs heterosexuals? I also wonder if atheists in more liberal areas tend to express greater happiness compared to their surrounding populations compared to atheists in conservative areas.
In fact, whites are happier then blacks, according to the article I linked to.
I should think, of non-believers that have no social outlets since they live in religious areas, and being told by most people you know that you're incapable of morality and deserving of eternal torture probably doesn't help much with the happiness thing, either.

I have commented to other Canadian atheists on occasion how much easier it is the be an atheist in Canada, because the social stigma isn't so ingrained. Atheists are not demonized or treated as second class citizens in most big cities in Canada. I am sure that it could be different in certain areas, rural Canada is a very different animal then urban Canada.

I see how it could also be community related, religion is big on communities. Getting a bunch of like thinking individuals together promotes a social system of togetherness, feeling alone isn't an option most of the time. When trouble strikes, well the community is there to catch you when you fall. This probably promotes a sense of well-being and belonging that might be missing from atheists who are more cut off from their social groups.
They might be reporting that they are happier however thats all it might be.

To my eyes if you believe in an afterlife (in general I see that this as the core of what most religions have to offer) that means in general it doesn't matter if you screw up in this life, as long as you seek forgiveness or redemption at some point you get a free pass and possibly (reincarnation) another shot at getting it right.

Living in such a state really means what you do doesn't matter, granted this is a very generalized statement and mostly like only applies to the serious believers. I can however see how it could produce a kinda apathy around how someone lives their life.
Spot on, buddy. The afterlife seems to me to be the core of what is wrong with religion. It is a pessimistic concept.
You can look at it at different angle. It deals with the fear of death, doesn't it? It's one of the the things why religions themselves don't die out:)
"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." from a poem by Thomas Gray, 1742.
Emoticon

Ignorance is bliss.
Nah, no way. More blissfully unaware? Sure.
I took another look at the article and what really stands out is the two people chosen. Rich healthy white guy with no ties to other people vs. a poor unhealthy black woman with ties to her community and church. That feels too close to the idea that the poor are better off because they appreciate what they have or something.
There are too many factors to happiness to try and distill it with religious vs. non-religious. I am skeptical of these happiness studies because there the inability to fully integrate all variables including how one defines happiness and why one reports the way they do. For example, wouldn't most religious people report higher rates of happiness because God wants them to show his joy to others?
there is no control for that evidence I bet. as we see society today, atheists are one of the few discriminated minorities left in America and probably the only one that it is acceptable to openly ridicule in the press.

it's like asking if white people were happier than black people two centuries ago. Any evidence that supports it is probably loaded.
The University of Penn has a site where you can test your authentic happiness. You can test your strength of character, your general happiness, optimism, work like satisfaction. When you're done it details the results. The test are conducted through the University of Pennsylvania. I've taken all the test and I rated highest in most categories. Although, I'm not very compassionate. I'm also not very forgiving. My authentic happiness is 4.3 out of 5. Great site you should check it out. Look up Penn State Authentic Happiness.
I hate to have to reply to my own post. The site is the University of Pennsylvania Authentic Happiness not the Penn state authentic happiness. Sorry gang.

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