To Pray or Not to Pray, That Is the Question

Emily DeSouza, Editor-in-Chief

With over half (60.6%) of the city’s population partaking in religion, how many of them do it because they want to, how many of them do it because they need to, and how many of them do it because they’re told to? 

I think a lot of the aspect of me believing in religion was because it finally felt like I was getting answers, and it was a moment of hope for me but after being so long in religion I realize that a lot of it was due to pressure to go into this religion,” senior Celeste Matute said.

While being forced into religion can cause lingering issues, the way certain religions handle mental health can cause even more.

“I’ve had patients report to me that they’ve opened up to a parent or a sibling about feeling depressed or feeling anxious, and the parent will say something like, ‘Oh, just pray on it.’ Basically to find their resolve in their faith and have trust in the church,” school adjustment counselor Yolanda Cavicchio said. 

Cavicchio also said that religion or spirituality  “is helpful for people. I’ve also seen that be a support for people. But oftentimes the depression and the anxiety it presents with symptoms: not sleeping, not eating, your heart’s racing, your body temperature keeps rising. There’s all these symptoms, so sometimes people report not feeling supported because that’s one way to manage is by having faith in God or their religion, but it doesn’t address all those symptoms and then they feel powerless over them because they’re not learning how to address them.”

She added later, “I’ve seen from organized religion also to spirituality I think people really find peace in something greater than them. Feeling connected to something greater than them. Putting some of the control- Cause one of the biggest things that just humans struggle with is our lack of control of things, right? Not everything is in our control and so handing what’s not in our control over to a higher power is really helpful for people. So in the 12 step program, I used to work in addictions as well, having a higher power, and anything can be your higher power anything you feel is greater than you and not just the individual but the collective is a big part of it in terms of surrendering their control over things.”

Senior Mason Ferbert said, “Having the belief in a greater being or beings can help many people through tough times.” He later added, “but these beliefs can be taken and bent by people in power, using their beliefs to support their actions. This can be seen in religious environments which subjugates its followers. In a non-religious environment a person has more freedom to act and believe how they want. But in many non-religious environments without strict beliefs a person can become cynical and take that out on other people.”

Senior Arianna Tessier was not raised in a religious household but was religious at points in time saying, “I felt connected because people told me to.”