December 10, 2009

Americans “pick and mix” religions


by Benjamin Graham

Nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans sometimes attend religious services of a faith different from their own, new research has discovered.

A nationwide poll by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found Americans are increasingly blending religious practices from a range of diverse traditions.

Many Americans mix Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as
reincarnation, astrology, and the presence of spiritual energy in physical
objects, the study found.

A sizeable number have experienced supernatural phenomena.

Three in ten (29%) said they have felt in touch with someone who has died, which one in five (18%) said they have been in the presence of a ghost.

Some 15% said they have consulted a psychic or a fortune teller.

Almost half (49%) of those polled said they have had a “religious or mystical experience”, more than twice as many as in a 1962 Gallup survey, where this figure was just 22%.

A third (35%) of Americans said they regularly or occasionally attend religious services at more than one place.

This figure rises to nearly four in ten (39%) among Americans who attend
religious services at least once per week.

“The religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into
conventional categories,” The Pew Forum said in a statement.

“Large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing
elements of diverse traditions.”

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