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Religious Beliefs Of U.S. Adults,
About Their Own And Other
Religions, from 2000 to 2017:

Page 2

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Religious symbols

Religious symbols of world religions.
(Somehow, they missed Wicca again!)

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Two other topics are covered in the previous essay.

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This essay contains public opinion poll results on:

bullet 3. How U.S. adults view salvation outside their faith tradition

bullet 4. How U.S. adults view their own spirituality and religious faith

bullet 5. How religiously inclusive are U.S. adults?

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3. How U.S. adults view salvation outside their faith tradition:

Beliefnet and Newsweek conducted a poll of 1,004 U.S. adults. They asked the question: "Can good people outside your faith tradition attain salvation as you understand it?" They left the definition of "tradition" up to their visitor. Some probably interpreted it to mean their congregation; some their denomination; some their religion's particular wing that they belong to (conservative, mainline, liberal); some as their religion.

Results were:

bullet 57%: "Yes, fully, if they are sincere in their efforts to know or worship a deity."

bullet 29% "No, and there are consequences."

bullet 9% "I don't know.

bullet 3% "Yes, but not fully."

bullet 1% "No, but they are not punished." 1

Some might scratch their heads in confusion over these results. They seem to indicate that there are many members of faith traditions all over the U.S. who feel secure in their own salvation but who believe that members of other faith traditions are doomed. Yet many members of those faith traditions that they reject, also reject them in return. This is a reflection of a curious phenominon in religion. Christianity is similar to many other major world religions:

  • There are a approximately 30,000 Christian denominations, sects, and faith groups in the world.

  • Although they all base their beliefs on their group's sincere and careful interpretation of the Bible, they teach different beliefs.

  • Most members believe that their own faith group has "the fullness of truth" and that all of the other faith groups in their religion and in other religions are in error.

Anyone who has access to a person skilled in statistics might wish to ask their opinion of the above three observations.

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4. How U.S. adults view their own spirituality and religious faith:

One of the most important pieces of religious information is that about 87% of U.S. adults considered themselves to be Christians during most of the 20th century. This value appears to be currently dropping at almost one percentage point per year. It reached 70.6% by 2014. If this rate of decline holds, then most U.S. adults will not consider themselves Christian before the mid 2030's.

However, this datum does not tell us anything about the seriousness with which adults consider their faith. One source described the results of a 1993 in-depth survey of about 4,000 U.S. adults. They concluded that:

bullet 30% are totally secular in outlook.
bullet 29% are barely or nominally religions.
bullet 22% are modestly religious.
bullet 19% regularly practice their religion. 2

A USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll sampled 1,037 U.S. adults in late 1999. 3 They found that:

bullet 30% described themselves as "spiritual" but not interested in attending church.
bullet About 54% of respondents said they are religious, but 45% of those said they are more likely to follow their own instincts than denominational teachings. 

The religious makeup of Canada appears to be similar to that of the U.S.

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5. How religiously inclusive are U.S. adults?

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, released on 2002-MAR-28, described one rather curious question on religious inclusiveness. They combined two concepts within a single question. 4 They asked 2,202 adults:

bullet Whether they considered their own faith group to be the "one true faith," or

bullet Whether they believed that followers of many different religions can attain eternal life.

There are two problems with this question:

bullet A person might regard their own religion to be the one true faith, and yet believe that followers of other religions will still attain eternal life.

bullet Most Christians believe that everyone will attain eternal life. However, many believe that the majority of people will spend eternity in being tortured in Hell.

For what it is worth, their results were:

bullet 18% believe that their religion is the "one-true faith."

bullet 75% believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.

bullet Almost half (48%) of "highly committed white evangelical Protestants" say that many religions can lead to eternal life. This shows that many conservative Christians opposed the foundational teaching of their denominations that the unsaved will go to Hell.

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Five additional topics are shown in the next essay:

How U.S. adults describe themselves.
Biblical world views.
Gender differences.
Can a person be moral if they don't believe in God?

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

  1. "Newsweek/Beliefnet Poll Results," Beliefnet, 2005-AUG, at:
  2. International Social Survey Program (ISSP), 1991 & 1993. Quoted in George Bishop, "What Americans really believe," Free Inquiry, 1999-Summer, Pages 38 to 42.
  3. USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll for 1999-DEC, as reported in ReligionToday on 1999-DEC-29.
  4. "Americans Struggle with Religion's Role at Home and Abroad," The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2002-MAR-28, at:

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Christianity > Christian history, belief... > Polls > here

 Home page > Religious info. > Basic info. > Polls > here

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Copyright 1999 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-MAY-13
Latest update: 2017-FEB-20
Author: B.A. Robinson 

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