Saturday, December 24, 2005

Traditional religion is still the bedrock of America, with “very large majorities” of the public steadfast in their belief in God and the birth and Resurrection of Jesus Christ — with belief in astrology, ghosts and other New Age hallmarks lagging behind.

Overall, 82 percent of Americans believe in God, according to a recent Harris poll, which also revealed that 73 percent also believe in miracles, 70 percent in life after death, 70 percent in the existence of heaven, and 70 percent that Jesus is the Son of God. In addition, 68 percent believe in angels and 66 percent in the Resurrection of Christ.

Six out of 10 believe in the devil and the existence of hell.

Republicans emerged as the most spiritual of all the respondents in the survey — which included demographic divisions for men, women, three political parties and three levels of education. Republicans’ numbers eclipsed results in all those categories.

The poll revealed a distinct partisan divide.

It found that 93 percent of the respondents who were Republican believe in God; the figure was 81 percent among Democrats, who only edged out the GOP when it came to belief in miracles. The poll found 78 percent of the Democrats believe in miracles, compared with 76 percent of Republicans.

In addition, 82 percent of the Republicans believe in the survival of the soul after death, that Jesus is the Son of God and in the existence of heaven. Among Democrats, 68 percent believe in life after death and that Jesus is the Son of God, while 73 percent believe in heaven.

More than three quarters — 76 percent — of Republicans believe in both angels and the Resurrection of Christ; those figures were 70 percent and 68 percent among Democrats, respectively.

Members of both parties do not discount the existence of evil. The poll found that 67 percent of Republicans believe in both the devil and hell; the figure stood at 61 percent among Democrats in both categories as well.

New Age influences do not resonate much among Americans.

“What may be more surprising is that significant minorities believe in ghosts, UFOs, witches, astrology and in reincarnation,” the poll found.

Indeed, only 21 percent believe in reincarnation: “That you were once another person,” the poll stipulated. A quarter put credence in astrology, 28 percent believe that witches exist, and 34 percent believe in UFOs.

Four out of 10 believe in ghosts — a category that even the political parties could agree upon: among Republicans, the figure was 42 percent; among Democrats, 41 percent.

There was a divide of the sexes, though. While 46 percent of the women believe in ghosts, the figure stood at 33 percent among men. More men than women, however, believed in UFOs — 38 percent to 31 percent. Roughly three in 10 of both sexes believed in witches; 30 percent of women believed in astrology, compared with just 19 percent of men.

The poll was conducted among 889 adults Nov. 15-22, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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