Does Faith Matter? UTSA Professor Will Present Lecture on Religion and Mental Health

April 10, 2012

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Dr. Christopher G. Ellison, professor of sociology and Dean's Distinguished Professor of Social Science at the University of Texas at San Antonio, will present his lecture, "Does Faith Really Matter? Exploring the Relationships Between Religion and Mental Health," at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in Cox Lecture Hall of Armstrong Browning Library on the Baylor University campus.

The event, presented by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Ellison will examine the explosive growth of empirical research on religion and mental health in recent decades. Although studies in this area have explored many facets of mental health, a primary focus has been on affective outcomes such as depression, anxiety and psychological distress. Ellison will give attention to studies using population or community samples, and he will discuss the development of his own work over the past 25 years.

He also will address: the diverse approaches to conceptualizing and measuring religion in studies of this topic, emerging programs of research on the role of specific constellations of belief, the role of religion in dealing with stressful events and conditions, potentially negative mental health consequences of certain aspects of religion and subgroup variations in the links between religion and mental health, especially differences by race, ethnicity and social class.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in religion from Duke University in 1982, Ellison earned his doctoral degree in sociology from Duke in 1991. He taught at the University of Texas at Austin from 1991 to 2010, before joining the UTSA faculty. He is a member a number of professional associations, including the American Sociological Association, the National Council on Family Relations and the Population Association of America, and has published two books, 14 book chapters and more than 140 articles.

About the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion

Launched in August 2004, Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. ISR's mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history. It also embraces the study of religious effects on such things as prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for appropriate scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.

For more information, contact the ISR at (254) 710-7555 or email

by Katy McDowall, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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