Despite the ravings of American televangelists, most religious Americans dispute the idea that the only way to eternal life after death is through Jesus. This will be news to the Pat Robertson’s of the airwaves…

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, fully 70% of Americans who have some religious affiliation say that many religions-aside from their own particular faith- can lead to eternal life after death on Earth-including non-Christian faiths.

Here are some other interesting facts that the survey reveals about the attitudes of self-described religious Americans (and those who consider themselves “unaffiliated” with any particular religion):


Political Party Affiliation: Nationally, 36% of religiously minded folks are Republican or lean Republican compared to 47% who are Democrats or lean towards the Democrats.

Political Ideology: Nationally, 37% of these folks consider themselves to be conservative, versus 36% who claim to be moderate and 20% who claim to be liberal. (Maybe not surprisingly, the more conservative folks are Christian evangelicals and Mormons while the most liberal denominations include Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews.)

Government Size: 43% want smaller government with fewer services; 46% want bigger government with more services.

Abortion: 51% believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases; 43% believe it should be illegal in most or all cases.

Homosexuality: 50% think it homosexuality should be accepted by society; 40% say it should not be accepted.

Environment: 30% think that environmental laws and regulations are harming the economy and costing jobs; 61% think stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost.

The survey of over 35,000 also revealed (among other things) that only about 59% believe in Hell while nearly 74% believe in heaven.

Clearly, America’s religious aren’t as dogmatic as we may be led to believe, or even as dogmatic as some anecdotal evidence may have us believe. Clearly, the media overhypes the religious differences anywhere and everywhere it can. And while some regions of the country are more religious than others, as a whole, Americans don’t seem to conform to the standard media view that there are but two sides of the religious equation-nutjob evangelical and raging athiest. In fact, most seem to be just regular folks who hold their own beliefs dear without having to force them on others or condemn others as heretics and blasphemers-or, more importantly, force them upon the nation as a whole via legislation.

This is good news, especially for those of us who live outside the religious tent and have no affinity for religion, other than for the entertainment value it offers us. But what it really shows is that by and large, Americans aren’t hell-bent to mold this nation into a theocracy, despite the overtly vocal rantings of televangelists, “family” groups, and some certain politicians. Let’s hope they get the message.

(cross posted at Bring It on!)