Monday, May 23, 2011

Religious People are Only Marginally More Comfortable with Death

A recent survey in the east of England reveals that the religious are only slightly more comfortable with death. Here are some of the statistics.

Asked how comfortable they felt about talking about death generally, 76% of those affiliating to a faith or belief system said they felt comfortable. For atheists and those with no religion the figure was 69% (64% for those with no religion alone).

The gap narrowed somewhat in respect of conversing about respondents’ own deaths. 71% of those with a faith felt comfortable about discussing that scenario against 69% of atheists and those with no religion combined (or 65% for those with no religion alone).

Unsurprisingly, those in the East of England who were comfortable discussing their own death were more likely to have expressed their spiritual or religious preferences for end-of-life (47%) than those who were uncomfortable (21%). But the same was true for all other end-of-life wishes.

You can read the rest of the article here.

This is somewhat surprising since one of the focuses of religion is on death and the afterlife. From a Christian point of view, believers are taught not to fear death. Indeed, death and the afterlife is sometimes used as a scare tactic in evangelization. I think of questions asked by people like "if you died today where would spend eternity" or the famous Chick tract comic "This was Your Life." But according to the statistics, non-believers, in the East of England at least, aren't all that more scared of death than believers.

What do you make of this? Should believers fear death or look forward to it? Does confidence in an afterlife translate into a absence of fear when it comes to death?


  1. I fear death because I doubt. I think if I was confident in what I believe, I wouldn't fear death.

  2. I don't think that Christians NEED to fear death. We probably all do sometimes. I have good days and bad days. When I went to Southern Sudan a few years ago I wasn't afraid to die because I had spent time praying and preparing for what might happen, but I find that if I let to much time go by without considering the reality of death it can be a fearful thought.

    It seems that believers and non-believers fear death for the same reason...doubt. Believers doubt God's promise (this doesn't mean you can't fear that act of dying), unbelievers doubt God's justice (or are deluded concerning it).

  3. It's God's love that translates into an absence of fear concerning death, not a confidence in an least for me. I don't fear death because I know God's love; I have experienced it.

    Interestingly, one of our ex-pastors told us how he used to ask people, "If you died today, where you would spend eternity" when he canvassed neighborhoods. He thought it was great, and "saved" many. Glad he didn't use it on me (at least that I am aware of).