Survey Shows Rise in Paranormal Beliefs, Blending of Christian, New Age, Eastern Religion

December 12, 2009

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a report on Wednesday titled "Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths."   The report shows that many Americans now "blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs," and that "sizable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups" report having supernatural experiences, such as seeing ghosts.

Among the report’s findings:

  • For the first time in almost half a century of polling data, the number of Americans who say they have had a religious or mystical experience exceeded the number who say they have not.  That number has been on the rise continually since 1962, when 78 percent said they had not had such experiences.
  • Twenty percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics believe in reincarnation.
  • About the same percentages of Protestants and Catholics believe in astrology, yoga (as a religious practice) and the concept of a "spiritual energy" emanating from objects such as "mountains, trees or crystals."
  • Sixteen percent of Protestants and 17 percent of Catholics believe that some people can use the "evil eye" to "cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen."
  • The percentage of Americans who believe they have encountered a ghost has doubled from 9 percent to 18 percent since 1996. The percentage who said that they were in touch with a dead person has increased from 18 percent to 29 percent.

The percentage of Americans who have consulted a fortune teller has remained about the same (approximately 15 percent) since 1990.