Assessment: The study found that 91% of Americans believe in God or a higher power, and 80% of this group say that most of the suffering in the world comes from people rather than from God. Some 70% of this group also believe that humans are free to go against God’s plans or that of a higher power …
More than three years after Pope Francis sparked a firestorm of religious debate by telling a young boy that his deceased atheist father might still end up in Heaven, a new study from the Pew Research Center shows a majority of Catholic and mainline Christians also believe people who don’t believe in God will go to Heaven.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
Data for the study, conducted Sept. 20-26, was collected from a nationally representative sample of 6,485 U.S. adults.
Pew researchers decided for the first time to tackle deep philosophical questions like the meaning of life, the purpose of suffering and why bad things happen to people. The national study was released amid a backdrop of major life-changing events for many, most notably the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed millions of lives globally.
In discussing American views on the afterlife, the study showed that majorities of U.S. adults believe in both Heaven and Hell, but significantly more believe in Heaven. Some 73% of respondents reported belief in Heaven, while 62% of respondents reported belief in Hell.
When it comes to Christians as a group, the study showed that the overwhelming majority of all Christian groups supported belief in Heaven. Protestants from historically black and evangelical churches were more likely than mainline Protestant Christians or Catholics to express belief in Hell.
And while 39% of all American adults, in general, believe people who don’t believe in God can still go to Heaven, 68% of Catholics and 56% of mainline Protestant Christians were found to hold this belief compared to 21% of evangelicals and 31% of Christians from historically black churches.
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