New Age Beliefs Are Common in America—and in Our Churches

by Joe Carter

The Story: According to a new survey, New Age beliefs are common in America, even among people who are highly religious in traditional ways.

The Background: A new Pew Research analysis looks at beliefs and behaviors that cut across many denominations producing a new and revealing classification, or typology, of religion in America. The new typology sorts Americans into seven groups based on the religious and spiritual beliefs they share, how actively they practice their faith, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.

Included in the survey was a question about whether people held certain New Age beliefs, such as a belief that spiritual energy is located in physical things, such as mountains, trees, or crystals; reincarnation (people will be reborn again and again in this world); astrology (the position of stars and planets can affect people’s lives); and psychics (that some people perceive or are sensitive to supernatural forces).

The groupings, from most to least religious, are:

Sunday Stalwarts — This is the most religious of the seven typology groups. Sunday Stalwarts attend religious services weekly (82 percent), pray daily (84 percent), and participate in church groups (100 percent). They are also the most likely to believe in God as described in the Bible (94 percent) and believe in heaven and hell (97 percent and 91 percent, respectively).

About one in three persons in this group believes in psychics (32 percent) and that spiritual energy can be located in physical objects (29 percent). About one in five believes in reincarnation (19 percent) and in astrology (16 percent).

God-and-Country — This group comprises believers who are less active in church groups or other religious organizations, but still hold many traditional religious beliefs and tilt right on social and political issues. About a quarter attend religious service (27 percent) but almost none participates in church groups (less than 1 percent). They mostly believe in God as described in the Bible (91 percent) and say that believing in God is necessary to be moral.

None of this group believes spiritual energy can be located in physical objects (0 percent) but almost one in three believes in psychics (28 percent). About one in five believes in reincarnation (21 percent) and in astrology (16 percent)…

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New Age Beliefs Are Common in America—and in Our Churches