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72% Believe They Will Go to Heaven, Not Sure About Friends

December 20, 1986|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Seventy-two percent of Americans who believe in heaven rate their chances of going there as good to excellent, but many say their friends' chances are considerably worse, according to a new poll.

The poll of 604 adults conducted by USA Weekend magazine indicated that 80% believe that heaven exists, and 67% believe in hell. Only 56% of college graduates believe in hell, compared to 71% of high school graduates.

The magazine, in interpreting the results of its poll, concluded that Americans believe only six out of 10 of their friends are going to heaven, and nearly one in four will go to hell.

But belief in God is nearly universal: 96% subscribe to the belief in a supreme being, according to the survey. And nearly 60% think of God as a man, while none think of God as a woman and 37% say God is neither.

Ninety-four percent said they have read some part of the Bible, 27% have read the entire book, and one in five say they read it every day.

Eighty-seven percent say religion is important to them, and 73% consider themselves religious. Women tend to be more religious than men; 72% pray every day, compared to 55% of men.

Nearly half of homes with children say grace before meals. Six of 10 say they talk with God, rather than say formal prayers, and 93% believe that God hears and answers prayers.

Sixty-five percent belong to a place of worship, 45% attend services once a week, but 14% attend only one to five times a year. And 48% donate time to their church.

The respondents indicated that just under half of their friends were of the same faith, while three out of every 10 friends attended the same church or congregation. Fifty-two percent marry someone of the same faith.

Only 15% said they would like to live in a community where everyone is of the same faith, 21% said they felt they had more in common with co-religionists, and 23% said they would be upset if their child chose another religion.

The poll reported that it was subject to a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

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