Think you know what Americans believe about religion? You might want to think again.
Seven in ten Americans who follow one particular faith believe many religions can lead to eternal life.
Despite the intense attention paid to evangelical and Catholic voters in a high-stakes election year, only half say they pay close attention to politics.
And more than a quarter of people who are not affiliated with a faith nevertheless attend religious services at least occasionally.
A new report released Monday, June 23, by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life demonstrates the myriad ways that faith in America is more variegated and nuanced than it may appear at first glance.
Researchers for Pew's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey analyzed the religious practices of more than 35,000 U.S. adults and found that they generally embrace their own faith while respecting — and sometimes even practicing — aspects of other religions.
"Many religions — maybe even most — can be perceived as having an exclusivity clause: We're right and therefore everybody else is wrong," said John Green, a senior fellow with the Pew Forum.
"What we've found is that many Americans apparently don't invoke the exclusivity clause."
Researchers did not track which other faiths people might say lead to salvation, so a Protestant or Catholic might be thinking of, for example, fellow Christians like the Eastern Orthodox, or non-Christians like Jews or Muslims. Either way, respondents seemed more focused on pragmatism than conversion.
"While Americans may have firm religious commitments, they are unwilling to impose them on other people," Green said. "It may be a kind of attitude that works very well on a practical level in a society that is as diverse religiously ...1
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