Survey: Wicca Unknown to Majority of Americans

Although some say Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the United States, most Americans still say they have never heard of the term before, according to a new survey released Monday.

Slightly more than half of Americans (55 percent) say they have not heard of Wicca, a national survey conducted by The Barna Group found. Among those that have heard of the religious group, most have an unfavorable view (52 percent) of it.

Those most likely to hold a "very unfavorable" view of Wicca were found among residents of the South and Midwest (52 percent of whom had a very unfavorable opinion); born-again Christians (67 percent); and socio-political conservatives (61 percent).

Two-thirds (62 percent) of those who have heard of Wicca described it as an organized form of witchcraft. A much smaller percentage of Americans think Wicca is a form of Satanism (7 percent) or a religious cult (7 percent).

Wicca is a loosely organized, under-the-radar religious group that is best known for its use of magic sorcery, and engagement in witchcraft. It has no recognized guidebook or body of "sacred literature" to define its practices, but instead is based on rituals and pagan beliefs.

Members go through initiation rites and worship gods and goddesses found in nature. In general, Wiccans embrace the concept of karma and reincarnation, and do not follow any strict code of morality.

The growing religious movement is most popular among young people, who are increasingly interested in witchcraft and are comfortable with the idea of worshipping nature, according to The Barna Group.

Yet despite its mounting popularity, very few people claim to be Wiccan. Based on interviews with more than 4,200 adults in 2008, The Barna Group found that Wiccans represent about one-tenth of one percent of all American adults.

In other words, among the nation's 230 million adults, less than 250,000 people claim Wicca as their primary faith group.

The report is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,203 adults across the United States, age 18 and older, in November 2008.

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