Gallup Poll: 89 Percent of Americans Say They Believe in God

'In God We Trust' on U.S. quarter. Available:
"In God We Trust" on U.S. quarter. Available: | (Photo: Kevin Dooley)

A new Gallup poll has found that 89 percent of Americans say they believe in God, and this is after the belief in God having declined over the last few decades.

When Gallup asked, "Do you believe in God," 89 percent of U.S. adults said, "yes," and 10 percent said, "no." One percent said they had no opinion, the poll says.

In the surveys conducted May 4-8 and June 14-23, Gallup then slightly changed the question, asking, "Do you believe in God or a universal spirit?" Again, 89 percent said they believe, and 9 percent said they do not. And 2 percent said they had no opinion.

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Given more options than "yes or no," and asked to choose among "believe in, not sure about and don't believe in," 79 percent of respondents said they believe in God, 11 percent said they don't believe and 10 percent said they are not sure, the poll says.

In 2001 and 2004, 90 percent said they believed in God, with 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, saying they were unsure. However, by 2007, the percentage choosing "believe in God" had dropped slightly to 86 percent, with another 8 percent expressing uncertainty, the poll notes.

In 1944, when Gallup first asked Americans, "Do you, personally, believe in a God?" 96 percent said they did. And between 94 percent and 98 percent of Americans said they believed in God in other surveys conducted through 1967. But when Gallup modified the wording in 1976 and asked Americans about their belief in "God or a universal spirit," 94 percent to 96 percent responded in the affirmative, until 1994.

In the latest survey conducted with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Gallup also asked respondents if they believe in angels, heaven, hell and the devil, giving them the same options: "believe in, not sure about and don't believe in."

For angels, 72 percent said they believe, 12 percent said they are not sure and 16 percent said they don't believe. And 71 percent said they believe in heaven, 14 percent said they are not sure and 15 percent said they do not.

Lesser percentage of Americans, 64 percent, believe in hell, and even lesser in the devil, 61 percent, the poll found.

"All of Gallup's questions about belief in God show declines from previous decades," the poll says. "The question that gives people the chance to say they're 'not sure' shows a decline from as recently as nine years ago. This follows the general trend in drops in other religious indicators over the decades. Most notable among these is that close to 20% of Americans now say they do not identify with a specific religious group or denomination, compared with smaller percentages who had no religious identity in decades past."

The poll concludes, "Although the results can be taken at face value in showing that fewer Americans believe in God than did so in the past, it is also possible that basic beliefs have not changed – but rather Americans' willingness to express nonreligious sentiments to an interviewer has… The substantial majority of Americans continue to give a positive response when asked about their belief in God."

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