Poll Shows Americans' Preference for Individual Spirituality Over Organized Religion

August 29, 2005

Source: Beliefnet / Newsweek


On August 29, 2005 Newsweek reported, "Only a generation ago it appeared from some vantage points... that Americans were on their way to turning their backs on God. In sepulchral black and red, the cover of Time magazine dated April 8, 1966—Good Friday—introduced millions of readers to existential anguish with the question Is God Dead? If he was, the likely culprit was science, whose triumph was deemed so complete that 'what cannot be known [by scientific methods] seems uninteresting, unreal.' Nobody would write such an article now, in an era of round-the-clock televangelism and official presidential displays of Christian piety... History records that the vanguard of angst-ridden intellectuals in Time, struggling to imagine God as a cloud of gas in the far reaches of the galaxy, never did sweep the nation. What was dying in 1966 was a well-meaning but arid theology born of rationalism: a wavering trumpet call for ethical behavior, a search for meaning in a letter to the editor in favor of civil rights. What would be born in its stead, in a cycle of renewal that has played itself out many times since the Temple of Solomon, was a passion for an immediate, transcendent experience of God. And a uniquely American acceptance of the amazingly diverse paths people have taken to find it... A major poll, commissioned jointly with Beliefnet.com, reveals a breadth of tolerance and curiosity virtually across the religious spectrum."