Quantcast


Twitter icon


Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Persons
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
 Denominations
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

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

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment

Same-sex marriage

Homosexuality
Human rights
Gays in the military
Nudism
Origins
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking
Stem cells
Transexuality
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.

Americans' beliefs about God

God's existence & importance.
Jesus' second coming.

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.


horizontal rule

Beliefs about God's existence:

bulletWhen asked: "Do you believe in God or a universal spirit?" Americans' beliefs have been quite constant. The Gallup Organization has found: 1
Year Percentage "Yes"
1947 94%
1953-4 99%
1978 94%
1994 96%
2011 91%

However, this question raises more questions than it answers. It is important to realize that Americans have many different concepts of "God or a universal spirit."

bulletMany believe in a Trinity formed of a Father God, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit -- three persons in one entity -- as taught by most Christian faith groups.

bulletOthers believe in a single indivisible personal deity as taught by Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

bulletOthers believe in a deity who created the universe, assigned it natural laws, departed and has been not present since.

bulletSome believe in a type of amorphous higher power or universal spirit.

These four only scratch the surface of the diversity of beliefs about the nature of God. Unfortunately, most commentators appear to ignore the phrase "or a universal spirit" in the question that was asked. They incorrectly report the above data as belief in God, alone.

Gallup conducted a poll between 2007-MAY-10 and 13 that asked more precise questions about God:

bulletWhen asked "Do you believe in God, or is it something you're not sure about or don't believe in?"
bullet86% said they believe in God;

bullet8% said they were not sure about;

bullet6% said they don't believe in God.

bulletDuring the same survey, American adults were asked: "Do you believe in God, don't believe in God but believe in a universal spirit, or don't believe in either?"
bullet78% said they believed in God;

bullet14% said they believe in a universal spirit;

bullet7% don't believe in either. 5

It may be quite shocking to many Americans that only about 3 out of 4 adults actually believe in a supreme being who is a personal God.

bulletThe General Social Survey (GSS) asks the specific question: "Do you, personally, believe in God?" Results were:
Year Percentage "Yes"
1998 88.4%
2000 84.7%
2004 88.8%

 

bulletOpinion Dynamics Corporation conducts an annual poll of registered voters for Fox News. They asked the question: " "Do you personally believe in the existence of each of the following?" followed by a list of 11 items, asked in random order. One of the items was "God." Results were:
Year Believe
(Theists)
Don't believe
(Atheists)
Not sure (Agnostics)
1997-FEB 94% 4% 2%
1997-OCT 95 3 2
1999-MAR 92 4 4
2001-JUL 91 6 3
2002-JUL * 92 6 2
2003-SEP 92 5 3
2004-SEP 92 5 3

* Datum for all adults sampled; remaining data for registered voters only.

This survey produced noticeably higher values than the GSS. We suspect that this is because in the Opinion Dynamics survey this question was preceded by an inquiry into attendance at religious services. About twice as many Americans say they attend religious services regularly than actually do attend. With so many subjects lying on that motherhood issue, it is quite likely that they would be more inclined to also lie about their belief in the existence of God.

horizontal rule

The Baylor Religion Survey:

The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and the Department of Sociology, both at Baylor University, conducted the Baylor Religion Survey during the winter of 2005/2006. It was funded by the John M. Templeton Foundation. They asked 1,721 randomly selected American adults a total of 77 questions covering a broad range of religious questions. 2,3 Of these, one dealt with the existence of God in some detail:

Question 21: "Which one statement comes closest to your personal beliefs about God?"

bullet65.8% I have no doubts that God exists
bullet14.3% I believe in a higher power or cosmic force
bullet10.8% I believe in God, but with some doubts
bullet4.6% I donít believe in anything beyond the physical world
bullet2.8% I have no opinion
bullet1.7% I sometimes believe in God

In summary, about:

bullet5% of the adult population are strong Atheists.
bullet3% of adults are Agnostics.
bullet14% believe in some type of higher power other than God;
bullet12% believe in some type of God, but with lapses or doubts in his/her/their existence;
bulletOnly 66% firmly believe in some type of God.

An analysis by Baylor of of their 2006 survey data revealed that there are two and distinct dimensions to belief in God:

  • God's level of engagement: whether God is directly involved in the world and personal affairs, or is distant and disconnected.
  • God's level of anger: whether God is angry by human sins and reacts by punishing the sinful.

This led naturally to four very different concepts of God among the American population:

  • Type A: Authoritarian (high on anger; high on engagement); believed in by 31% of the population.
  • Type B: Benevolent (low on anger, high on engagement); believed in by 23%.
  • Type C: Critical (high on anger, low on engagement); believed in by 16%.
  • Type D: Distant (low on anger, low on engagement); believed in by 24%.

horizontal rule

Webmaster's comments:

The second most popular concept believed in by about one quarter of the American adult population, is the "Type D" or "Distant God," who closely matches the Deistic belief. Yet very few people are aware of Deism as a religion. This would appear to be a magnificent opportunity for a religious entrepreneur to start up the next big religion, matched to the beliefs of this 23%.

Since in excess of 70% of the American adult population identify themselves as Christians, one might ask which of the four Gods is a close match to Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) as described in the Bible. Actually all four do. All one has to do is to select individual passages from the Bible and ignore the other passages that describe the activities and expectations of the Trinity.

Sponsored link:

Importance of God in North Americans' lives -- comparing gender and nationality: 2

"God is very important in my life" American Poll Canadian Poll
All subjects 63% 35%
Men only 50% -
Women only 75% -

This difference between Americans and Canadians may explain why:

  • There are very few demonstrations against abortion access in Canada,
  • Same-sex marriage became available across Canada in 2005, whereas fewer than half of American states have marriage equality,
  • 40% of Americas say they attend religious services weekly,
  • 20% of Canadians say they attend.

(BTW, among both Americans and Canadians, surveys that count noses have shown that about half of both Americans and Canadians lie when answering the last question.)

horizontal rule

Jesus' second coming:

Many Christians expect Jesus Christ to return to earth in the immediate future, and usher in an end of the world as we know it. This belief has been common since the founding of Christianity in the 1st century CE. As the second millennium CE came to a close, expectations rose belief was particularly high:

bullet An Associated Press survey in 1997 revealed that 24% of American adults expected to be still alive when Jesus returns. Many of these probably believe that they would be raptured (elevated from the earth to be with Jesus) and thus will never experience death.

bullet A poll conducted for Newsweek magazine in 1999-JUN asked American adults whether they believed that Jesus would return during the next millennium -- i.e. between years 2001 and 3000 CE. Results were:
bullet All persons surveyed : 52%
bullet Evangelical Protestants: 71%
bullet Non-Evangelical Protestants: 48%
bullet Roman Catholics: 47%
bullet Non-Christians: 20% 

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. Gallup Organization poll in 1994-DEC. Quoted in George Bishop, "What Americans really believe," Free Inquiry, 1999-Summer, Pages 38 to 42.
  2. "Selected findings from the Baylor Religion Survey," Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, 2006-SEP, at: http://www.baylor.edu/ This is a PDF file.
  3. Baylor Religion Survey: Codebook, Association of Religion Data Archives, at: http://www.thearda.com/
  4. Millennium Study by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch. Reviewed by Maranatha Christian Journal for 1999-DEC-13 at: http://www.mcjonline.com/ This is a PDF file.
  5. "Belief in God," Gallup Poll, data collected 2007-MAY 10-13; published 2007-JUN-14 at: http://www.galluppoll.com/. This was a temporary listing.

horizontal rule
Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian personalities > Gods > here

Home > Religious information > Gods > here

Home > Spirituality > Gods > here

horizontal rule

Copyright © 1999 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-MAY-13
Latest update: 2014-APR-25
Author: B.A. Robinson
line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or return to the American beliefs / polls, or "Gods, Goddesses and other deities" 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?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored links