New Poll: Most Still Believe in Heaven; God
is Not Responsible for Recent Tragedies
Against a backdrop of horrific crimes and devastating natural disasters, 56 percent of Americans surveyed believe in the devil, 53 percent believe in hell and 43 percent believe in hell as “a place of suffering and punishment where people go after they die,” according to a poll of 1,218 Americans conducted over Memorial Day weekend.
The survey also found that Americans don’t hold God responsible for these tragedies with 86 percent believing natural disasters such as the Oklahoma tornado and Hurricane Sandy are a function of nature. Sixty-one percent believe recent terror and crime episodes, such as the London terrorist attack, the Cleveland kidnapping/imprisonments and the Sandy Hook massacre are caused by “the evil in people’s hearts” rather than “divine retribution."
Equal numbers of respondents (38 percent) believe that people who commit violent criminal acts go to hell, as well as those who don't ask God's forgiveness for their sins before they die. More than 61 percent believe they're going to heaven, while less than 2 percent believe they will go to hell.
Commissioned by the True Life in God Foundation (TLIG), www.tlig.com, established by international humanitarian Vassula Ryden (author of the bestseller Heaven is Real But So Is Hell; released in March 2013), the poll was conducted online from May 23-27, 2013 among 1,218 Americans age 18 and older with a margin of error of +/-2.9%. Respondents were equally split (50 percent) between male and female.
The new survey shows that while a majority of Americans still believe in hell (54 percent), the number is declining. A 2008 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life / US Religious Landscape Survey showed that 59 percent of Americans believed in hell, and an earlier Pew study reported that 71percent believed in hell as of 2001.
Other key findings include:
• 62 percent believe in heaven and think they are going there.
• 44 percent believe in hell as “a place of suffering and punishment where some people go after they die;”
• The 56 percent overall belief in the existence of the devil and 53% belief in hell was consistent across all the four survey age groups;
• With regard to what causes evil in the world, i.e., the Boston Marathon bombings, Sandy Hook school shooting and 9/11, older respondents (45-60) say people are evil while younger respondents (18-29) say people are sick;
• 41 percent identify the devil as “Satan the fallen angel who rebelled against God and now tempts humans to do the same;”
• 47 percent believe heaven is “God’s dwelling place” while 44 percent believe heaven is “a spiritual dimension where good people go when they die.”
The True Life in God Foundation conducted the survey to help Americans explore the existence and causes of evil in the world. The foundation commissioned Survey Monkey, one of the leading polling companies in America, to survey a cross-section of Americans from every age group, region, ethnicity, religion and household income.
The survey follows the release of Heaven Is Real But So Is Hell, which hit No. 1 on Barnes & Noble online, as well as No. 1 in Christian Orthodoxy on Amazon following its March 16, 2013 release. The book details Vassula Ryden's spiritual journey in which she received visions of heaven, hell, demons and angels, and the battle between good and evil in the world.
Vassula cautions skeptics who scoff at the existence of the devil: “The devil’s most powerful tool is convincing us that he – and hell – do not exist. He works subtly and silently, feeding our doubts and inadequacies, sowing dissension and creating chaos and confusion in our lives. Evil is real, and we have to know how to respond to it.”
Vassula believes prayer, forgiveness, reconciliation and service to others are the main tools to overcome the forces of evil.
About True Life In God Foundation
The True Life in God Foundation, founded by International author and humanitarian Vassula Ryden, is an international non-profit organization that funds 25 Beth Myriam homes serving the poor in six countries. A Greek Orthodox Christian, Ryden has more than 1 million followers on social media, and has spoken to millions of people in 80 countries, including more than 500,000 in the Philippines alone. An internationally-acclaimed advocate for peace and unity, Ryden was twice awarded Bangladesh’s 2003 Gold Medal Peace Prize for her work in religious tolerance and aid to the poor. She has been endorsed by many government and religious leaders, and has met with leaders at the United Nations, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican, including Pope Francis and his two predecessors. Ryden advocates "unity in diversity" between Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians, and reconciliation between all world religions. For more information visit: www.tlig.com.