Survey: Most U.S. Adults Drop Dogma
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2008 (Combined Dispatches) -- Nearly three-fourths of religious U.S. adults say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation, a survey indicated Monday.
The U.S. Religions Landscape Survey of 35,000 American adults found 70 percent of those affiliated with a religion said they agreed “many religions can lead to eternal life,” even if their denomination’s teachings say otherwise.
Fifty-seven percent of evangelical Christians, whose denominations teach Jesus is the sole route to salvation, agreed many religions can lead to eternal life, as did 79 percent of Catholics, the survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found.
More than 80 percent of Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, and more than half of Muslims, also agreed.
The survey portrays a nation of “free-flowing spirituality,” Pew Forum Director Luis Lugo said.
Peter Berger, director of the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University, said of the shift, “most of us find this cheering news.”
Steve Farrell, worldwide coordinating director of the Humanity’s Team spiritual movement, added the survey supported “a truth that prophets, messengers, saints and sages have shared since the beginning of time -- that all paths lead to God and that no path is better than any other.”
The Pew survey also found 68 percent of U.S. adults said there was more than one true way of interpreting the teachings of their own religion, with 79 percent of Catholics saying this. Two in three Catholics also said their church should change with the times and adopt modern practices, rather than preserve traditional beliefs.
The survey is the second installment of a broad assessment Pew has undertaken of trends and characteristics of U.S. religious life. The first part, published in February, found 44 percent of U.S. adults said they’d switched to another religion or to none at all.