How Religion Can Heighten or Help With Financial Stress

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Researchers found that some people experience financial stress due, in part, to their religion's demands on their time and money. Yet, others feel their religious involvement and support of their church community reduces their financial stress.

Churchgoers who are strapped for cash may experience a spike in anxiety when the donation plate is passed. However, knowing they have a church family to support them in times of need may help ease their money worries.

A new study by University of Arizona researcher Ashley LeBaron illuminates the ways in which religious involvement can alleviate or exacerbate financial stress.

The study, published in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, draws upon 134 interviews with religious leaders and parents in Ireland and the United Kingdom who consider themselves to be "highly involved" in their religion.

The results suggest that religion's effects on financial stress are not black and white, said LeBaron, a doctoral student who studies family finance in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

LeBaron said she hopes her findings will help provide a better understanding – for both religious and non-religious people – of how religion can interact with family finance.

"The take-home message for people who are religious or people who work with religious people – like counselors, therapists or religious leaders – is to be open to the idea that religion can have benefits and also drawbacks," LeBaron said. "It's good to understand both because then you're in a better place to mitigate the drawbacks and optimize the positive aspects."

Read more about how religion can heighten or help with financial stress.

Rosemary Brandt
Media Relations Manager, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences