NEW YORK, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifty-seven percent of Americans
consider spirituality a very important part of their daily lives, according to
a Newsweek/Beliefnet poll, conducted August 2-4, 2005.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050821/NYSU005 )
But not all of those polled define spirituality in terms of a traditional
religion. While the majority (55%) report that they are religious and
spiritual, a significant number (24%) consider themselves spiritual, but not
Of those who say they follow a religion (64%), 19 percent say that they
are not traditional in how they practice it. That number jumps to 29 percent
of those in the 18-39-age bracket, according to the poll, which is part of the
August 29-September 5 issue (on newsstands Monday, August 22). In this double
issue, Newsweek examines the rise of spirituality in America and looks at why
many Americans are choosing to seek spiritual experiences outside the
framework of traditional religions.
Experts say that American religions have always been characterized by
creativity and individualism. "That's their secret to success," says Alan
Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at
Boston College. "Rather than being about a god who commands you, it's about
finding a religion that empowers you."
The cover package also profiles individuals who embody this trend
including a Pentecostal minister from Memphis, students at a Catholic
university, a Kabbalist rabbi and Muslim youth-group members.
According to the Newsweek/Beliefnet Poll, non-Christians are most likely
to explore ideas or practices of faiths outside their own. Forty-eight percent
of non-Christians said they often or sometimes take part in an activity
associated with another religion, whereas 68 percent of evangelical
Protestants say they hardly ever or never do. Sixty-eight percent of non-
evangelical Protestants and 64 percent of Catholics hardly ever or never
participate in outside practices.
The Newsweek/Beliefnet Poll also points to a wide variation in how
Americans incorporate their spirituality into their daily lives. Sixty-four
percent say that they pray every single day, while 21 percent participate in a
spiritual activity not connected with a traditional church or house of
worship. Only two percent attend church or worship services on a daily basis.
Despite the growth of non-traditional religions, most Americans consider
themselves Christian. Eighty-five percent of those polled are Christian,
compared to five percent who say they are non-Christian and six percent who
say they are agnostic or have no religion. Thirty-three percent of Americans
classify themselves as evangelical Protestants, while 25 percent say they are
non-evangelical Protestants, and 22 percent are Roman Catholic. Judaism,
Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism each account for one percent of religious
Of those with a religion, Catholics -- at 91 percent-are the most likely
to believe that a good person from a different faith could achieve salvation,
the poll found. Evangelical Protestants were the least likely to believe this,
with 68 percent agreeing that someone outside their religion could go to
heaven, while 83 percent of non-evangelical Christians and 73 percent of non-
Beliefs about the origins of the universe and life after death remain
fairly consistent across different religious practices. Ninety-two percent of
Americans with a traditional religion believe that God created the Universe
compared to 74 percent of those with a non-traditional religion. Seventy-nine
percent of those with a traditional religion believe that the soul goes to
heaven or hell after death versus 59 percent of those in a non-traditional
The Newsweek/Beliefnet Poll also found that most Americans continue
practicing the religion in which they were raised. Sixty-eight percent say
their religion is the same or mostly the same as their religion as a child,
versus 20 percent who say their religion is different or mostly different. Of
those who changed religions, the number of Americans that now classify
themselves as evangelical Christians represents about a ten-percent increase
over the number who say they were raised as non-evangelicals.
For this Newsweek/Beliefnet Poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates
International interviewed 1,004 adults aged 18 and older on August 2-4, 2005.
The margin of error is plus or minus four points. To interview Society Editor
Lisa Miller on the poll, please call Andrea Faville at 212-445-4859.
(Read entire cover story at http://www.Newsweek.com. For news releases, click
"Pressroom" at bottom of page.)