More Americans believe in God than in angels, miracles, and even heaven. And while half attend worship services on a regular basis, a majority thinks religion plays too small a role in people’s lives today.
Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles, according to the latest FOX News poll. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years — from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today.
The national poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search), shows that about a third of Americans believe in ghosts (34 percent) and an equal number in UFOs (34 percent), and about a quarter accept things like astrology (search) (29 percent), reincarnation (search) (25 percent) and witches (24 percent).
There is a gender gap on many of these subjects. Women are more likely than men to believe in almost all topics asked about in the poll, including 12 percentage points more likely to believe in miracles and eight points more likely to trust there is a heaven. The one significant exception is UFOs, with 39 percent of men compared to 30 percent of women saying they accept the existence of unidentified flying objects.
Young people are much more likely than older Americans to believe in both hell and the devil. An 86 percent majority of adults between the ages of 18 to 34 believe in hell, but that drops to 68 percent for those over age 70. Similarly, 79 percent of young people believe in the devil compared to 67 percent of the over-70 age group.
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they believe in God (by eight percentage points), in heaven (by 10 points), in hell (by 15 points), and considerably more likely to believe in the devil (by 17 points). Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they believe in reincarnation (by 14 percentage points), in astrology (by 14 points), in ghosts (by eight points) and UFOs (by five points).
Overall, most Americans think religion plays too small a role in people’s lives today (69 percent), with only 15 percent saying it plays too large a role and seven percent saying “about right.”
The poll finds over a third (37 percent) say they attend church, synagogue or other place of worship at least once a week, 13 percent almost every week, 12 percent about once a month and 19 percent seldom attend. Three percent attend on holidays and 15 percent never attend.
Polling was conducted by telephone September 23-24, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. NA = national adult
1. I'm going to read the names of some people and groups. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. If you've never heard of one, please just say so. (RANDOMIZE)
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. (Can't say) 4. Never heard of 5. The Catholic Church
2. Do you think religion plays too large or too small a role in most people’s lives today?
SCALE: 1. Too large 2. Too small 3. (About right) 4. (Not sure)
3. How often do you attend church, synagogue or other place of worship?
SCALE: 1. At least once a week 2. Almost every week 3. About once a month 4. Seldom 5. Never 6. (On holidays/holy days) 7. (Not sure)
4. Do you personally believe in the existence of each of the following? (ROTATE LIST)
SCALE: 1. Believe 2. Don't believe 3. (Not sure)