released a survey Thursday that concluded surprising results about the American
religious landscape. In a follow-up to the school’s 2005 survey on religion,
which found that most Americans believe in God or a higher power, researchers
sought to delve deeper into Americans’ beliefs.
questions,” said Christopher Bader, an associate professor of sociology at
Baylor and one of the ISR researchers. “Lots of surveys ask: ‘Do you pray and
how often?’ Very few surveys ask what you pray about. A lot of surveys ask: ‘Do
you believe in God?’ But surveys have not asked who is God.
and try to push it several levels.”
study found that contrary to common opinion, megachurches have more intimate
relationships among congregants then do smaller congregations.
Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Baylor and co-director of the ISR.
attending Bible studies and weekly services, as well as tithing more
consistently, than their smaller counterparts. People attending churches with
more than 1,000 members are also involved outside the church—often active in
home Bible studies and inviting more friends and family to church.
with a symphony orchestra and a paid choir and a lot of hoopla and a lot of good
tidings but no bad tidings,” Stark said. “It’s not true that it’s all happy
talk. These people are as interested in evil and sin as anybody in any of the
churches. Their levels of satisfaction are high, their volunteerism in community
service is very high and their outreach efforts are absolutely phenomenal.”
published in What Americans Really Believe by Rodney Stark, found that
despite recent reports Americans have not become disenfranchised with organized
religion. An estimated 31 million people participate in community outreaches
such as neighborhood prayer meetings and Bible studies affiliated with a church.
dissatisfied with organized religion, and because of this dissatisfaction, they
don’t participate in religious activities,” said Byron Johnson, professor of
sociology at Baylor and co-director of the ISR. “What we found [is] that people
who do these outreach ministries all operate from the base of some organized
church that they’re involved in. They’re really not out there frustrated with
the organized church doing these other kinds of ministries and outreach that
they have no church home of their own because they’re so dissatisfied. It’s not
Delusion, some have claimed atheism is on the rise in America. But the ISR
report refutes this assertion. The research showed atheism has remained a steady
4 percent of the U.S. population since the mid-20th century and that atheists,
as a group, tend to be avid readers, which might explain why recent atheistic
books sold so well.
spiritual experiences, including hearing God’s voice, feeling God’s directional
leading, speaking or praying in tongues, being protected by an angel, and
witnessing or receiving a miracle healing.
experiences. Women, African-Americans and Republicans charted the highest
numbers in this category.
percent said hell exists.
continue to be conducted every two years by the ISR until 2018.
this country over the course of 20 years in a very deep sense,” Bader concluded.