Religion in America

The Pew Center has released a report on religion in America. Among the interesting findings:

A majority of those who are affiliated with a religion, for instance, do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation. And almost the same number believes that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion.

I have no objection to these views per se, but according to other research they suggest that the people who hold them will have trouble passing their religious views on to their children and grandchildren.

Another interesting finding is divergence on the question whether other religions may offer paths to salvation. 83% of mainline Protestants agree, putting their version of Christianity in a category with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. Only 53% of evangelicals, 39% of Mormons, and 56% of Muslims agree.

Another interesting divergence is over conceptions of God. 62% of mainline Protestants believe in a personal God, as opposed to 79% of evangelicals and 91% of Mormons. Only 41% of Muslims, 31% of Hindus, and 25% of Jews agree.

There are also some strange findings. 21% of self-styled atheists believe in God (6% in a personal God), suggesting that they don’t know what ‘atheist’ means. 55% of agnostics believe in God (14% in a personal God), suggesting a similar confusion there.

There’s a strong connection between religion and politics. 50% of conservatives attend church weekly, but only 12% of liberals do. 46% of conservatives consider religion very important; only 14% of liberals do.

2 thoughts on “Religion in America

  1. Definitely odd numbers on the atheists and agnostics. Perhaps they are really non-believers in organized religion. I can certainly count myself among those, even though I’m undecided on the existence of a Supreme Being.

    Part of me hopes there is one, part of me hopes there is not. But mostly I can’t figure out how there could be.

  2. Two dichotomous conceptions of God: an intervening One, which allows one to believe/pretend there’s magic and even predestination; a withdrawn One, which allows one to uphold a Free Will perspective that holds everyone responsible for her/his empowered abilities to make a difference in the world. These are mutually exclusive theological views – of an eventual “heaven on earth” versus each person’s worthiness to enter a promised Heaven in the next life.
    Cheers, Tom

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