Private religiosity and mental health : the buffering role of prayer and scriptures on social isolation among Americans.


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The existing body of literature identifies religion, especially public religiosity, as a factor that ameliorates the detrimental effects of stressors in the time of challenge, as well as promoting health. However, a facet unique to the COVID-19 pandemic that has yet to be grasped in existing studies is that participation in public religiosity took on a drastically different form under social distancing and lockdown. Thus, I argue that private religiosity (measured by private scripture reading and private prayer) provides a buffering effect on loneliness, a key predictor of mental health, during the pandemic. Using data from the Baylor Religion Survey Wave 6 my findings underscore that scripture reading buffers loneliness (b=-.005, P<.05), while prayer has null effect on loneliness associated with social distancing.