Post by Whitney Heckathorne, Public Relations Research
I hope everyone had a festive and restful holiday—and I hope most of you reading are actually still on break through the New Year.
In keeping with the Christmas/holiday spirit (and Laura’s “what do we believe in?” blog entries from last week) I thought I’d touch on the differences in what we believe in now, as we close 2009, compared to 4 years ago.
According to the Harris Poll, while we are still just as likely to believe in God now as we were in 2005 (82%), for the most part, it seems we have become slightly more likely to say we believe in other aspects of religion and spirituality since then…but why? Here are my two cents regarding the uptick in Americans’ spiritual beliefs (using pop-culture/current event-related happenings from 2009 to help explain the rise, of course).
Percentage point difference in what we believe (since 2005):
- Heaven (+5) With so many notable celebrities passing in 2009, Heaven suddenly became a much more entertaining venue.
- Resurrection of Jesus Christ (+4) Michael Jackson’s comeback post-death proved Kings can die and still have worshippers forever.
- Miracles (+3) U.S. Airways flight 1549 landed safely in the Hudson River. All were happy, except for the goose.
- The Virgin Birth (+3) Without a husband or partner, a doctor performed in vitro fertilization… and 9 months later, Octomom was born. Take that, Mary!
- Hell (+2) Unemployment rates skyrocketed, the H1N1 virus spread and Jon Gosselin dominated tabloids….really, it’s shocking Hell only rose 2 percentage points.
Not all religious/spiritual entities that people believe in have risen since 2005, though. In fact, the percentage of Americans’ who believe in witches is down 5 percentage points. But hey, that’s easily explainable…haven’t you heard? Witches are out—vampires are IN.
Okay, okay…so these pop culture-related events probably (definitely) have nothing to do with Americans becoming slightly more likely to believe in particular religious ideas/truths. But really, why are we a bit more likely to say we believe, nowadays? Are we more spiritually-minded in harder times? Or just hopeful for the future?