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The Original Study:
The Spiritual Healing Project is an international study of spiritual life in mainstream religious communities. The study was designed by Rev. Bobbie McKay, Ph.D. and conducted by Dr. McKay and her husband, Lewis Musil, MFA.

Approximately 4,000 people from mainstream Protestant, Catholic, Reform Jewish, and Muslim congregations have participated in the study. We have collected over 1,000 stories about spiritual life.

Over 1,900 questionnaires, written specifically for this project by Dr. McKay, have been completed and processed at Johns Hopkins Center for Learning and Health and analyzed at the University of Pennsylvania. The study became an international study when presented to the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre at Westminster College at Oxford University, U.K.

Results of the Project:
  1. Universally people shared spiritual experiences of the Presence and Action of God in their lives which was transforming. By "transforming," they meant that God had become real to them. The study demonstrated a rich resource of spiritual life within the lives of people in mainstream religious communities which is rarely talked about.
  2. As a direct result of their spiritual experiences, people reported feeling better, more connected to others and to God, less angry, more loving, more interested in living in the present, and interested in becoming more active in their religious communities.
  3. The unity of response between people of different religious traditions, ethnic and socio- economic backgrounds offers a unique opportunity for interfaith dialogue and an exploration of the spiritual bonds we share.
  4. People told us of three kinds of spiritual experiences: (1) Physical curing experiences when a disease was present and "miraculously" cured; (2) Stories where there was a disease present, but with no cure. People felt "spiritually healed" in the process, regardless of cure. (3) The largest category of experiences occurred in the ordinary flux of life, with no disease present, with or without a stressor, in which people felt spiritually transformed. God became "real".
Summary of the Spiritual Healing Project
  • 83% of our participants were between the ages of 35-75.
  • 74% were female; 26% male.
  • Over 90% reported having at least one experience when God became "real" to them.
  • 82% reported a change in their "self identity."
  • 91% reported their spiritual experiences had changed/transformed their lives.
  • 89% reported having experiences of spiritual healing between the ages of 30 & 59.
  • All respondents had support systems: friends and family reported as primary support systems.

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