Quantcast
About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitor essays
Our forum
New essays
Other site features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
.
CHRISTIANITY
Who is a Christian?
Shared beliefs
Handle change
Bible topics
Bible inerrancy
Bible harmony
Interpret Bible
Persons
Beliefs, creeds
Da Vinci code
Revelation, 666
Denominations
.
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Other spirituality
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions

About all religions
Important topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handle change
Doubt/security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
World's end
One true religion?
Seasonal topics
Science v. Religion
More info.

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality/ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten commandm'ts
Abortion
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment
Equal rights - gays & bi's
Gay marriage
Nudism
Origins of the species
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

Sponsored links

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.



S
atan

Diversity of beliefs about
Satan by the general public

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

Popular beliefs in the U.S.: 1991 to the present time:

bullet1991: Detailed data on belief in Satan is listed below. 1 Only among born again Christians did a majority conceived of Satan as a living being seventeen years ago, and then only by a small percentage. The average for all adults was 35%:
 
Group Satan is only a symbol of evil Satan is a living being
Average of American Adults 60% 35%
65 years and older 49% 38%
Born again 43% 52%
Not born again 68% 25%
Evangelical Christians 47% 49%
Roman Catholics 69% 26%
Mainline Protestants 65% 27%
(N = 1005; 95% confidence limits within 4%, a random sampling of Americans 18 years or older.)
bullet1993: Time Magazine for DEC-27 featured a story on angels. An opinion poll revealed that:
bullet69% believe in the existence of angels
bullet55% believe that angels are "higher spiritual beings created by God with special powers to act as his agents on earth".
bullet49% believe in the existence of fallen "angels or devils." They were presumably referring to demons.
bullet46% believe that they have a personal guardian angel 2
bullet1995: About 58% of American adults believed that Satan is "not a living being but is a symbol of evil."3
 
bullet1997: The 1991 survey was repeated in 1997-MAY. It suggests that the traditional belief of Satan as a living being might possibly be slipping. However, the decline is still within the margin of error and is thus not statistically significant: 4
Group Satan is only a symbol of evil Satan is a living being
Average of American Adults 62% 30%
(N = 1007; 95% confidence limits within 4%, a random sampling of Americans 18 years or older.)
bullet2001: Barna Research conducted an extensive poll. They found that only 27% of the adult population strongly disagrees that Satan is just a symbol of evil. 5 There was a wide variation among members of various denominations:
bullet Above average belief of Satan as a living entity:
bulletLatter-day Saints (Mormons) 59%
bulletAssembly of God: 56%
bulletChristian - non-denominational (mostly Fundamentalist) 48%
bulletPentecostal / Foursquare: 47%
bulletSeventh-day Adventist: 37%
bulletChurch of Christ: 36%
bulletBaptist: 34%
bullet Below average belief of Satan as a living entity:
bulletPresbyterian: 22%
bulletLutheran: 21%
bulletEpiscopal: 20%
bulletMethodist: 18%
bulletRoman Catholics: 17% 5

Paul Hinlicky, a leading Lutheran theologian who teaches religion and philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, VA was baffled that only about one in five Lutherans believe in a living Satan. He said: "It tells us that even the Lutherans are utterly out of step with Luther, to whom the Devil was very much a reality."
 

bullet2007: Barna Research found that only 24% of the subjects polled strongly reject the idea that Satan is not a real spiritual being. Belief in the personhood of Satan appears to be gradually dissipating.

horizontal rule

Belief in Satan in Christian countries around the world:

Two international surveys were conducted during 1991 and 1993 by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). This is currently located at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. 

In 1991, subjects were asked to agree or disagree with a number of statements. One was: "I definitely believe in the Devil." The percentage who answered "Yes" were:

 Country Belief in the Devil
United States 45.4
Northern Ireland 43.1
Philippines 28.3
Ireland 24.8
New Zealand 21.4
Italy 20.4
Poland 15.4
Netherlands 13.3
Norway 13.1
Great Britain 12.7
Israel 12.6
Russia 12.5
Austria 11.1
West Germany 9.5
Slovenia 6.9
Hungary 4.2
East Germany 3.6

Unfortunately, these results cannot be directly compared with the above U.S. data for 1991 to 2007, because the questions asked are not similar. A person could answer "yes" to the question about belief in the devil, while only regarding Satan as a symbol of evil. That is, they could answer "yes" even though they did not believe that Satan was a real entity.

horizontal rule

Conclusions about belief in Satan:

It appears that Satan is considered alive and well only by large numbers of the public in the U.S. and Northern Ireland. However, these numbers are dropping, at least in the U.S. From 1991 to 2007, belief in Satan as a living entity dropped from 35% to 24%.

In the thousands of hours of our monitoring of conservative Protestant radio and television programs since 1995, we have never heard an evangelical teleminister suggest even the possibility that Satan is not a living personality with magical powers. A large and growing percentage of Christians appear to have abandoned the teachings of their faith groups.

horizontal rule

Portrayal of Satan in popular culture:

A number of beliefs about Satan are prevalent in popular culture and reinforced by movies, children's books, the media, etc. There is little or no Biblical foundation for these beliefs. They are largely superstitious remnants from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance:

bulletSatan is a rather humorous character with a tail, dressed in a red suit, smelling of brimstone (sulfur) and carrying a pitchfork.
bulletHis prime activity appears to be to roam all over the earth, trying to persuade individuals to sign a contract which sells their soul to him in exchange for special powers or wealth.
bulletSatan does not seem to be particularly intelligent, because he is easily tricked by humans.
bulletHe is a type of warden who has administrative responsibilities over Hell, where some individuals go after death to be tortured for all eternity. (Revelation 20:10 contradicts this. It states clearly that Satan himself will be held captive in Hell. He will be thrown into the "lake of fire and brimstone" where he will be "tormented day and night for ever and ever.")

horizontal rule

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. George Barna, "What Americans Believe.", Regal Books, Ventura CA (1991), Page 206
  2. J. F. Cogan, "Handbook about Demon Possession For Human Service Workers" at http://www.gelservices.com/hs.html
  3. G. Barna, "The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators," Word Publishing, Dallas TX (1996), Page 22.
  4. Gustav Niebuhr, "Poll Indicates Diminished Role of Devil", N.Y. Times News Service, 1997-MAY-10, at: http://www.anomalous-images.com/
  5. "Religious beliefs vary widely by denomination," 2001-JUN-25, Barna Research Group, Ltd., at: http://www.barna.org/ This is offline. However, it appears to have been duplicated at http://www.adherents.com/

horizontal rule

Site navigation: Home > Christianity > Christian personalities > Satan > here

horizontal rule

Copyright © 1998 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2008-MAY-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go to the Satan menu, or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.