The Sign of the Cross as Comfort among American Christians

By: Regina Pefanis Schlee  

This study focuses on the use of the Christian symbol of the cross for emotional support and comfort in contemporary American students. Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Protestant denominations use the symbol of the cross, crossing one’s self, as a way of asking for a blessing. The act of crossing oneself is frequently used by traditional Greek Orthodox believers whenever they see a church, a religious icon, or when they pray. Roman Catholic believers also cross themselves as part of prayer rituals. While numerous studies have focused on the effect of prayer and religiosity on health and wellbeing, there is very little research on the amount of comfort experienced by those who cross themselves, as well as the use of other religious symbols for emotional support. The use of religious symbols will be examined using a sample of undergraduate students at a private religiously affiliated university in the United States. Most students attending the university are Protestant Christians, but a significant percentage (about 40%) come from a variety of religious traditions; mostly Roman Catholic, some Greek Orthodox, and a number of other religious traditions. A questionnaire will be used to focus on students’ own religious practices and possible use of the Cross or other religious symbols for personal comfort.

Sign of the Cross, Religiosity, Emotional Comfort, Prayer, Religious Symbols
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Regina Pefanis Schlee

Professor of Marketing, School of Business, Government, and Economics., Seattle Pacific University, United States
WA, United States

Regina Pefanis Schlee was born in Greece. She came to study in the United States through a Fulbright scholarship. She completed her Ph.D. at Washington State University. After working in industry as Director of Marketing Research, she joined the School of Business, Government, and Economics at Seattle Pacific University. She has publications in the areas of Marketing Education, Consumer Behavior, and International Marketing. In 2018, she was ranked as #24 among business education authors in the United States. Regina Pefanis Schlee has served as president of the Marketing Educators' Association, the Puget Sound Research Forum, and has been on the board of the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Marketing Association. She received the award of Marketing Educator of the Year in 2011.