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Atheists small minority in USA,0,4300244.story


From the Los Angeles Times


92% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, Pew survey finds


Californians, however, are less likely to consider religion 'very important.' Of the 36,000 people surveyed, 42% said they think Hollywood is a corrupting influence.


By Duke Helfand

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


9:22 AM PDT, June 23, 2008


Americans overwhelmingly believe in God and consider religion an important part of their lives, even as many shun weekly worship services, according to a national survey released today that also found great diversity in religious beliefs and practices.


Ninety-two percent of those interviewed for the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey said they believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, and 58% said they pray privately every day. But California, like other states along the country's two coasts, resisted the prevailing national tendencies.


Californians are less likely than other Americans to consider religion "very important" in their lives or to be "absolutely certain" in their belief in God.


Californians pray less than others in many parts of the country. They are less inclined to take the word of God literally. And they are ready to embrace "more than one true way" of interpreting their religious teachings.


Fifty-nine percent said that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 50% of people nationwide who hold that view.


"The West Coast generally is less religiously observant, less certain about religious beliefs," said John Green, a senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which produced the survey.


"The West Coast was settled last," Green added. "It has been growing fairly rapidly and has a unique amount of dynamism in [its] societies."


Meanwhile, one of California's signature industries and locales -- Hollywood -- appears to be a corrupting influence, at least in the eyes of some Americans. Forty-two percent said they feel their values are threatened by the entertainment capital; 56% were not threatened.


The survey, based on interviews in English and Spanish during 2007 with more than 36,000 people, is the Pew forum's second report this year.


An initial survey in February found that Americans are switching religious affiliations in ever-growing numbers or cutting ties to organized religion altogether. The study also found that Protestants, who hold a majority status in the United States, are close to becoming a minority.



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