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Results of a Gallup poll released over the weekend reveal that more than nine in 10 Americans believe in God. Ninety-two percent of Gallup’s 1,018 respondents (hailing from all 50 states) answered “yes” when asked whether they believed in God.
The pollsters noted:
Despite the many changes that have rippled through American society over the last 6 ½ decades, belief in God as measured in this direct way has remained high and relatively stable. Gallup initially used this question wording in November 1944, when 96% said “yes.” That percentage dropped to 94% in 1947, but increased to 98% in several Gallup surveys conducted in the 1950s and 1960s.
In recent decades, the pollsters have expanded the survey to also ask the question, “Do you believe in God or a universal spirit?” Given the option of a universal spirit over God — presumably understood as a Judeo-Christian, creator carer, possibly bearded and robed type figure — a number of Americans opted for the former (80 percent said they believed in God, 12 percent said they believed in a universal spirit). The survey did not probe into specific religious allegiances.
The breakdown of the poll results will come as little surprise:
Belief in God drops below 90% among younger Americans, liberals, those living in the East, those with postgraduate educations, and political independents. However, belief in God is nearly universal among Republicans and conservatives and, to a slightly lesser degree, in the South.
Gallup has not conducted the exact same survey for different countries, but we dug up some figures about religious belief in Canada and Europe to put America’s widespread belief in God in some context:
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.