Despite its religious affiliation, the hospital is careful never to force prayer on patients, said Dr. Peter Cardinal, medical director of Holy Spirit Outpatient Services in Camp Hill, and they have the utmost respect for all religions and traditions.
Someone with strong religious beliefs is also less likely to engage in harmful behaviors, such as smoking or drinking and driving, Cardinal
Scientists studying the faith-health link have struggled to determine whether attending church improved health outcomes because of the social support received from fellow church members, its role in shaping lifestyle choices, or something about the spiritual experience itself, but they have found it difficult to pinpoint or prove through quantifiable means.
At its most elementary level, all forms of prayer, with its repetition of words and sounds, evoke a relaxation response that calms stress and promotes healing, scientists said.
As a member of West Shore Evangelical Free Church
, an Army veteran of Afghanistan and the first Gulf War and a volunteer on medical missions in the Third World, Cardinal
stated unequivocally: "I have seen the power of prayer."
"God is not the celestial Santa Claus," Cardinal
"Prayer and religious intervention are not a replacement for medical care," Cardinal