Belief in God: Have Americans always believed in God?

http://www.readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0523_ov_world_war_II_faith_poster.jpgHOW LONG HAVE AMERICANS BELIEVED IN GOD? Gallup began charting high levels of belief in 1944. That’s when artist David Stone Martin (1913-1992) created this classic poster in support of the U.S. war effort. Martin, whose work now hangs in major art museums was most famous for his illustrations on magazine covers and record albums. During World War II, Martin served as an “art correspondent” assigned to travel with U.S. forces. He was deeply moved by the faith he saw among U.S. Navy medical units he accompanied through combat.Most Americans now believe in God, many without any doubt whatsoever.
But, have we always believed?
Surveys don’t go back far in time, but they go back far enough to tell us something about trends here and around the world. The high percentage of Americans who are certain God exists has been pretty stable, going back at least to 1991, according to data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). There’s been a shift away from certain belief in most places around the world, with big drops in Italy, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. However, there have been some big gains in certain belief in God’s existence, notably in Russia and Israel, based on Tom Smith’s report.

Gallup has the longest time series of information on Americans’ belief in God, dating back to the 1940s. In 1944, over 90% of Americans said they personally believed in God. This percentage has been stable over time. In a Gallup survey just last year, 92% of Americans said they believe in God.

Gallup has changed over time the ways it asks about beliefs in God, which naturally affects the answers people give. The figures over 90% given above include those who are certain and those who have doubts. What happens when you ask doubters to express their doubts? In 2006, Gallup asked respondents to qualify their beliefs in God. They could indicate these differences: convinced God exists, with little doubt God exists, God probably exists but with lots of doubt, God probably doesn’t exist but unsure about it, or convinced that God does not exist.

Even with all these qualifications, a high percentage (73%) said they were convinced God exists. Another 14% had only little doubts that God exists. Five percent had a lot of doubt. Only 3% said they were convinced that God does not exist.

Are you convinced that God exists?

Do you have doubts about God?

Why is America bucking the global trend toward disbelief?

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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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