Faith in the Wake of Disaster: A Longitudinal Qualitative Study of Religious Attachment Following a Catastrophic Flood

Edward B. Davis, Cynthia N. Kimball, Jamie D. Aten, Chase Hamilton, Benjamin Andrews, Austin Lemke, Jenn Ranter Hook, Laura Captari, Pehr Granqvist, Joshua N. Hook, Don E. Davis, Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Emilie L. Cattrell, Andrew D. Cuthbert, Joyce Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: This longitudinal qualitative study explores the impact of natural disasters on religious attachment (perceived relationship with God). We sought to validate and conceptually extend the religion-as-attachment model in a postdisaster context. Method: At 4 weeks (T1; n = 36) and 6 months postdisaster (T2; n = 29), survivors of the 2016 Louisiana flood completed a disaster-adapted version of the Religious Attachment Interview (Granqvist & Main, 2017). Results: At T1 and T2, survivors emphasized God being a safe haven (source of protection, comfort, or nurturance). This emphasis was especially pronounced for survivors who were directly affected (their home or business flooded) or had previous disaster exposure to Hurricane Katrina. Overall, survivors consistently emphasized God serving as a stronger and wiser attachment figure, and it was rare for them to report experiencing perceived separation or loss of intimacy from God. At T1 and T2, around 85% of survivors described their current religious attachment as either having a positive affective quality (e.g., closer, stronger) or as no different from before the disaster; around 15% said it had a negative affective quality (e.g., disappointed, strained). In describing their postdisaster religion/spirituality, survivors highlighted (a) God being a source of love, comfort, strength, and hope; (b) actively putting trust/faith in God; and (c) experiencing God through family/community. Conclusion: Results support and conceptually extend the religion-as-attachment model in a postdisaster context. Findings suggest disasters activate the attachment system, and survivors commonly view and relate with God as an attachment figure, especially one who serves as a safe haven.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-587
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • attachment
  • disasters
  • qualitative
  • religion
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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