01: Are those Christians who believe in angels, the devil, and a six-day creation also more likely to accept UFO’s, ESP and astrology?
Most research has found no strong link between believers in conservative Christianity and those who accept paranormal phenomena. But in the Skeptical Inquirer magazine (January/February) sociologist Erich Goode argues that these two kinds of believers have more in common than might be expected. In a survey of nearly 500 students, Goode finds that the “relationship between fundamentalism and paranormalism was positive and significant.”
Eighty percent of the people who believe in angels are also ESP believers, while only a bit more than half (56 percent) of the angel disbelievers are also angel believers. The strongest correlation was found between believers in the devil as an actual being and belief that astrology is scientific. Two thirds of believers in the devil (69 percent) also believe that astrology is scientific; only one-half of the devil disbelievers (53 percent) agree astrology is scientific.
On the whole, the percentage of those who disagreed with the religion questions were an average of 18.1 percent more likely also to disagree with the paranormal statements than was true for respondents who agreed with the religion questions. Goode dismisses regional differences (he conducted his research among his State University of New York at Stony Brook) for the conflict between his findings and previous research. He notes that the previous studies were also conducted among students in less religious regions, such as the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.
(Skeptical Inquirer, Box 703, Amherst, NY 14226-0703)
02: A recent survey from the Barna Research Group finds that born-again Christians have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians.
In a survey of 4,000 adults, the poll shows that among born again Christians, 27 percent are currently or have previously been divorced, compared to 24 percent of adults who are not born again. The Barna press release (December 21) notes that most surprising in the survey was that it was not the baby boomers who were the most divorce-prone, but the generation preceding them — the supposedly more conservative “builder” generation. Thirty Seven percent of the adults from the builder generation (currently ages 53-72) have endured a divorce, compared to 34 percent among baby boomers.
Also somewhat unexpected was that divorce is much less likely in the Northeast than elsewhere (19 percent of Northeasterners compared to 27 percent of Southerners and Midwesterners). The Christian denomination with the highest likelihood of getting divorced are the Baptists (29 percent), and the denominations with the lowest are the Lutherans and Catholics. Jews have among the highest divorce rates (30 percent), while atheists and agnostics fall below the norm (21 percent).
While pollster George Barna says that the high rate of divorce among evangelicals has been a fact for the past half-decade, most disturbing was that many of those experiencing divorce feel their community of faith provides rejection more than reconciliation or support.
(Barna Research Group, 5528 Everglades St., Ventura, CA 93003)
03: Most Jews in Israel do not know when Christmas is celebrated, athough they have nothing against Christians, according to a Gallup poll.
The survey, sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, found that 75 percent of the 479 Israeli Jews polled were unaware that Dec. 25 is the date when Jesus’ birth is most often commemorated. But Israeli attitudes toward Christians and Christianity are generally positive, says the IFCJ, a group founded to foster understanding between the faiths.
Respondents had “overwhelmingly positive attitudes” toward Christians in general and favored Christians’ desires to visit Israel. In addition, almost 53 percent of those surveyed thought the pope’s Holy Land visit, scheduled for March 2000, signifies a positive development in Jewish-Christian relations, according to a report in ReligionToday.com (Dec. 22).