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Natural Awakenings

Poll Reveals “Four Gods” in America

This year a Baylor University Religion Survey defied conventional secular wisdom questioning the significance of religion in Americans’ lives by determining that only 10.8 percent, or about 10 million of us, are unaffiliated. Considered the most extensive and sensitive study of religion ever amassed, the study asked questions like, “What do you think God’s personality is like?” and “How engaged is God in the world?”

Results show that one-third of us, roughly 100 million Americans, are Evangelical Protestants by affiliation. Twothirds, while not affiliated with a religious tradition, believe in God or some higher power. In essence, researchers found that “four gods” dominate among believers. People’s concepts of Deity diverged, split among (in order of dominance) an authoritarian God who is judgmental and engaged, a benevolent God who is not judgmental but engaged, a distant God who is completely removed, and a critical God who is judgmental but not engaged. A surprising level of belief and experience with the paranormal also surfaced, particularly in eastern states.

“This is a very powerful tool to understand core differences in the United States,” says Dr. Paul Froese, assistant sociology professor with the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. “If I know your image of God, I can tell all kinds of things about you. It’s a central part of world view and it’s linked to how you think about the world in general.”

Source: Gallup poll funded by the John Templeton Foundation

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