In What God Do We Trust?

Do you believe in an authoritarian God, a benevolent God, a critical God or a distant God? That's what a group of Baylor University sociologists asked 1,721 randomly selected subjects in the most comprehensive national survey of religion ever. That wasn't the only question, though; the subjects filled out a 16-page questionnaire on their religious beliefs.

But it turns out the answer to the above question was a great predictor of people's moral and political behavior according to the Baylor team that conducted the survey at the university's Institute for Studies of Religion. In fact, the answer was a better predictor than traditional labels like Protestant, Catholic or Jew.

For instance, while about 12% of all Americans think abortion is wrong in all circumstances, 23.4% of believers in an authoritarian God agree with that conclusion. On the other hand, only 1.5% of believers in a distant God agree.

Believers in a critical God are most likely to favor the equal distribution of wealth (58.7%), and closer regulation of business (70.6%). Believers in a benevolent God are most likely to believe that it's important to take care of the sick and the needy. In fact, 68% take that view.

According to the study, 91.8% of Americans believe in God or a higher power, or cosmic force.

The complete results are available here (PDF format).

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.