Wednesday, January 05, 2011

More on the Most Hated Religions

I decided to see if I could find anything else out about the most hated religious groups list that I mentioned earlier so I Googled “most hated religion in America” and found only a handful of links related to this story. One of those links referenced a piece by The Salt Lake Tribune entitled U.S. religion: great divider and uniter. The only part that mentioned the Buddhism was on page two –

Likability factor » According to the research by Putnam and Campbell, Jews are the most broadly popular group in America.

Next come Catholics, who seem to have risen in estimation since John F. Kennedy ran for president. Mainline Protestants are next, followed by evangelicals.

Mormons — who rank near the top for believing there is truth in other religions and for respecting the faiths of others — nonetheless are among the country’s least-liked faiths, along with Buddhists and Muslims.
I may just have to break down and get the book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (Official, Amazon) which seems to be the source of this data.

One part of this article that jumped out me was this section from page three –
An inclusive eternity » Despite all the differences, 89 percent of Americans — including 83 percent of evangelical Christians — believe people not of their religion can go to heaven, according to the book’s polls.

Most Americans maintain this belief, even when the overwhelming majority who are Christian are specifically asked if non-Christians can go to heaven. Mormons, who teach that theirs is the “only true church,” ranked highest — 98 percent — for believing those of other faiths can go to heaven.

It could be because Mormons believe truth exists in every faith, Campbell said, and that everyone will see it more clearly in the hereafter. In fact, LDS doctrine teaches that everyone will have the chance to accept the Mormon gospel either here or in the afterlife. Mormons also believe that heaven is tiered and that many if not most people will find themselves at one level or another.

Not everyone is pleased by their congregants’ perspective on heaven.

Putnam recently spoke to a group of conservative Lutheran clerics from the Missouri Synod, almost all of whom believe that people of other faiths are not candidates for the same eternal reward as they are.

When he told them that “86 percent of Missouri Synod Lutherans said that a good person who is not of their faith could indeed go to heaven,” the “theologians were stunned into silence,” according to Martin Marty, a premier American theologian who described the episode in an online column about the book.

One Lutheran minister wanly said that, as teachers of the word, they had failed, Marty writes. “Their work is cut out for them.”
So it seems that the majority of Americans believe that people who hold religious beliefs other than their own can still go to Heaven. I wonder though at the wording of the question because while this gives me hope, it doesn’t seem to jive with what I’ve heard from many religious people.

I’ll keep my eye open for any other stories on this subject. If anyone out there finds any, please send them my way!

No comments: