Yes, but studies have demonstrated the opposite, as well. For example, Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark (#1), are among the happiest countries in the world (“Get happy in the world’s happiest countries,” n.d.)—they are also the least religious (“Religiosity Highest in World’s Poorest Nations,” n.d.). There are many moderating factors that relate happiness to religion, one of which is holding the majority belief in one's culture and the social acceptance that it brings. Perhaps the most significant moderator is social connectedness (Diener, Tay, & Myers, 2011; Lewis & Cruise, 2006; Lewis, Maltby, & Burkinshaw, 2000).
We need to be careful when making claims such "religion makes people happy" when it is actually certain aspects of religion that lead to increased happiness. Claiming that religion makes people happy when it is actually social connectedness is like claiming that ice cubes cause liver damage instead of the Jim Beam that they keep cold.
Diener, E., Tay, L., & Myers, D. G. (2011). The religion paradox: If religion makes people happy, why are so many dropping out? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1278–1290. doi:10.1037/a0024402
Get happy in the world’s happiest countries. (n.d.). CNN. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/20/travel/happiest-countries-to-visit/index.html
Lewis, C. A., & Cruise, S. M. (2006). Religion and happiness: Consensus, contradictions, comments and concerns. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 9(3), 213–225. doi:10.1080/13694670600615276
Lewis, C. A., Maltby, J., & Burkinshaw, S. (2000). Religion and Happiness: Still no association. Journal of Beliefs & Values, 21(2), 233–236. doi:10.1080/713675504
Religiosity Highest in World’s Poorest Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/142727/religiosity-highest-world-poorest-nations.aspx
Bo Bennett, PhD
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