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American religion: less church and more options

People in the US is less religious every year. Period.

The main study in this area is “American Religion: Contemporary Trends” from Mark Chaves and it states clearly that a great number of americans are changing their point of view about religion. From his first study, in 1972, to the last one, in 2011, some things have changed.

Reincarnation

In his study there are some interesting points

  • although more than two thirds of american say they believe in God, less than a third go to church periodically and (this is really curious) they claim to go to the church more times than they really do it
  • confidence in religious institutions has declined more than confidence in secular institutions
  • to believe in God it’s becoming something diffuse for more and more people; there is a “God” who should have made the Universe but after all, nothing is clear
  • the traditional feeling of religious community where every one knows and helps each other is almost extinguished
  • decline in liberal Protestant denominations has been accompanied by the spread of liberal Protestant attitudes about religious and social tolerance

A few years ago the Gallup polling agency conducted a study on paranormal beliefs. Although the data is from 2001 they are still interesting because they compare the evolution of these beliefs over a decade. And the results are curious. The poll asked many questions to the Americans about their beliefs in different types of psychic and paranormal phenomena and the results are summarized in the following table:

Belief Doubt Unbelief
(datos en %)
Healing through psychic powers 54 19 26
Extrasensorial perception 50 20 27
If animals can be spellbound 42 16 41
Demonic possession 41 16 41
Ghosts and spirits 38 17 44
Telepathy 36 26 35
Alien visits 33 27 38
Clairvoyance 32 23 45
Communication with the dead 28 26 46
Astrology 28 18 52
Witchcraft 26 15 59
Reincarnation 25 20 54
Trance led by spirits 15 21 62

They compared that set of data with another one of 1990 and they discovered that, except belief in demonic possessions that had fallen over time and others like ESP and telepathy that had not changed, the number of believers in other religious (or at least not “physical” manifestations) had increased, in some cases more than 10%.

A subsequent survey with the same questions, also conducted by Gallup showed that in 2005 75% of Americans believe in at least one of the paranormal phenomena described above.

In the same way as it changed every aspect of our lifes, Internet comes with an avalanche of options for those who are losing their faith in conventional religion but still feel the need of stay in touch with “that”. You can find in the web a wide variety of websites with different offers for every kind of belief. Some are official websites of community churchs, some are video channels open to discussion about the existence of God (or atheism); some others are open boards where the “brothers” offer help for each others and even, other ones like the Rein Official site http://reincarnashown.com/ are ready to offer info about your previous lifes.

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