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Handbook of Bioethics and Religion$
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David E. Guinn

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178739

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195178734.001.0001

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Apples and Oranges

Apples and Oranges

A Critique of Current Trends in the Study of Religion, Spirituality, and Health

(p.333) 15 Apples and Oranges
Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

Gail Gaisin Glicksman

Allen Glicksman

, David E. Guinn
Oxford University Press

In recent years a new approach to the study of religion in the social sciences has emerged. It differs from the classical approach in four important ways. First, it treats all specific religious traditions as subsets or specific expressions of some underlying domain that is universal across all groups. Second this new approach treats religion as generally beneficent, and in this way it differs from both those theoreticians like Durkheim and Weber, who saw a more complex relationship between religion and society, and those such as Marx and Freud, who generally took a negative view of the effect of religion. Third, adherents of this new approach claim to be able to identify a therapeutic effect of religion on the physical and mental health of individuals, treating religion as a “health behavior”. This chapter asks whether this new approach accomplishes the goals of its proponents. It examines the Jewish identities felt by American Jews sixty-five years of age and older as a test case.

Keywords:   religion, social science, American Jews, Jewish identity, religion as “health behavior”

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