USA: Many Believe in God, but Not in Heaven or Hell

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If the U.S. had 100 people: Charting Americans’ religious beliefs and practices

Source: PEW Research Center

While 89% believe in God, only 55% believe in heaven and hell


About 218 million of the United States’ roughly 245 million adults say they believe in God. Such deeply personal views might seem abstract or distant when expressed as large numbers, but this is not the only way to look at religious belief in the U.S. What if we looked at our data about people’s religious beliefs and practices through a slightly different lens – that of small community, rather than a huge country?

Recently, we did just that, showing the religious affiliations of Americans by creating an imaginary 100-person town and using it as a model to show our data in a simple way. Here, we do the same to show Americans’ religious beliefs and practices.

The following six charts use data from the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study to create a profile of American religious beliefs and practices if the country were made up of exactly 100 adults.

If the U.S. were a town of just 100 adults, 36 would attend religious services at least once a week, while 33 would go to religious services no more than monthly. Another 30 would seldom or never attend a house of worship. (Surveys that ask directly about religious attendance typically obtain higher estimates of weekly attendance than other, more indirect methods of data collection. For more discussion of this phenomenon, see “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious.“)

In a U.S. with just 100 people, 89 would believe in God. This would include 63 people who would be absolutely certain of their belief, 20 who would be fairly certain and six who would be not too or not at all certain. Just nine people would not believe in God or a universal spirit.

In a U.S. comprised of 100 people, 55 would believe in heaven and hell, while 17 would believe in heaven but not hell. Three people would believe in hell but not heaven, and 25 would not believe in either.

If the U.S. had 100 people, 53 would say their religion is very important to them, 24 would say it was somewhat important and 11 people each would say religion is not too or not at all important to them.

In a U.S. with 100 people, 55 would pray on a daily basis, 21 would pray at least monthly, and 23 would seldom or never pray.

If the U.S. had 100 adults, 58 would still identify with the religion in which they were raised, but 42 would no longer identify with their childhood faith. Among those who have switched religions, 21 were Protestants who either left Protestantism altogether or switched from one Protestant tradition to another. For instance, someone who left a mainline Protestant church and joined an evangelical Protestant church would be included in this group. In addition, 13 are former Catholics and four were raised religiously unaffiliated.


4 replies

  1. The Islamic Perspective of Paradise and Hell:

    “Give glad tidings to those who believe and act righteously that for them there are gardens beneath which rivers flow”. (2: 26). “We have prepared for the disbelievers chains and collars and a blazing fire”. (76: 5)

    A person’s paradise is generated from within himself and everyone’s paradise are his faith and his righteous action, the delight of which begins in this life. The holy teaching of God Almighty tells us that the true and pure and firm and perfect faith in God and His attributes and His designs is a pleasant garden of fruit trees and righteous actions are the streams that irrigate that garden.

    There is a philosophy about punishment in the hereafter which is not set forth perfectly by any religion except Islam. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “He who is blind in this world shall be blind in the hereafter and even more astray” (I7:73). This shows that a person takes with him from this world the eyes with which to behold God Almighty and the senses with which to perceive Him. He who does not acquire these senses in this life will not enjoy them in the hereafter. This is a mystery which is not understood by the common people.

    The truth is that to recognize God Al-mighty without any error and to acquire a true understanding of His attributes in this world is the key to all comforts and delights of the future. This verse clearly indicates that we carry a torment with us from this world and that the blind existence and foul actions of this world will appear in the form of the torment of hell in the other world and they will not be anything new.

    In the above verse, God says He has prepared chains and collars and a blazing fire for disbelievers. Its mean that disbelievers are so occupied with the world as if their feet are chained and they are so much bent down in secular pursuits as if there are collars around their necks, which do not permit them to raise their heads and their hearts burn with worldly desires.

    In short, according to the Holy Quran, hell and heaven are both reflections of a man’s life and are not something new that comes from outside,… and will be but reflections of the spiritual conditions of man in this life.”

    (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam)

  2. There’s a reward for every deed one does, whether it’s good or bad… same way heaven is a reward for ones good deeds and hell is for bad deeds.
    Holy Quran clearly states several times about the concept of heaven and hell.

  3. People ofcourse are entitled to their beliefs. However, I as an Ahmadi Muslim do believe in heaven or hell. Other than its many reasons and benefits, as a mother I know that my kids respond better naturally if derived by the motivation of a reward or a punishment.
    God is most forgiving and gracious. All we are required to do is be good and ask for forgiveness if a sin os committed and we are promised heaven.

  4. The concept of heaven and hell or reward and punishment is found in every religion because all religions are from God, it’s another thing that people has forgotten the true teaching of their religion or you can say that their religion are not in original form.
    But Quran is that Holy book which is in its original form and it will be as its a promise of God with believes. And in so many places Quran tell us about the truthfulness of heaven and hell.
    If there is no reward of good and bad deeds how a person will do good deeds and avoid the bad ones and this rule works for this world and also after world. What ever a person does in this world he or she’ll get rewards in after world.

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