It would seem so.
BRIN are reporting on the First National VOICES Survey of Bereaved People, commissioned by the Department for Health:
Although one-half of all Britons claimed not to belong to any religion in the latest (2010) British Social Attitudes Survey, 85% of the dying subscribe to some faith….
Over on the Epiphenom blog Tom Rees examines a study investigating if thoughts of death increase religiosity, with some intriguing results:
Atheists are pretty non-religious and don’t really believe in any gods, whether or not you make them think about death.
When you remind Christians of death, however, they do increase their belief. But, and this is the crucial point, they increase their belief in the Christian god, while decreasing their belief in the other gods. Muslims were similar to Christians – except of course that they increased belief in Allah, and decreased belief in the other gods.
Agnostics, however, were different. They had fairly low levels of belief, but this increased after being reminded of death – but it increased for all three gods!
All in all, this is more support for the idea that the reason that some people turn to religion when faced with death is not that fear increases their belief in supernatural beings in general (and life after death and all that goes with it).
In view of this it’s interesting to note the findings on spiritual support for the dying noted over on BRIN:
Asked about the support which the bereaved had received from carers during the last two days of their life, spiritual support received the lowest rating (67% saying it had been excellent or good).
This compared with 80% for support to stay where the dying wanted to be, 79% for relief of pain, 74% for relief of other symptoms, and 71% for emotional support. 19% described the spiritual support as poor and 13% as merely fair.
The combined rating of excellent or good for spiritual support varied by cause of death. It was best (74%) in cases of cancer, with 63% for cardiovascular diseases, and 64% for other causes.
Place of death also made a vast difference to satisfaction with spiritual support: 91% for deaths in a hospice, 74% at home, 74% in a care home, but only 57% in a hospital. This finding could well fan the flames of debate about hospital chaplaincy.
Nevertheless, religious care seems to have been comparatively limited for patients who had been in their own home during the last three months of life. Just 4% of relatives mentioned help by religious leaders, against 20% by home care workers, 16% by nurses, 8% by social or support workers, and 7% by occupational therapists.
Tags: Religion Society