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Americans’ Views of Faith, Prayer and Miracles

Science or Miracle?

-- Survey Reveals Americans’ Views of Faith, Prayer and Miracles--

Flemington, NJ, December 8, 2008 - A new national survey of 854 Americans conducted by HCD Research December 6-8, found that an overwhelming majority (75%) believe that religion is a reliable and necessary guide to life. Similarly, 86% of Americans believe that miracles have occurred in the past and 85% believe that they can occur today. Most responders (56%) also claimed to have seen situations and circumstances with themselves, friends and/or family members which they consider to be “miraculous” or “unexplainable by science.”

The study was conducted to obtain Americans’ perceptions of faith, prayer and miracles in both the medical world as well as their everyday lives. To view detailed results go to:

Those surveyed represent American consumers from Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian and other), Jewish (Orthodox Jewish, Conservative Jewish, Reform Jewish and Culturally Jewish), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Scientologist, Islamic, Shinto, Sikh, and other religious traditions as well as those with no religious traditions.

Among the findings:

Views of Religious Texts

The results of this study reveal how divided Americans are on the subject of literal interpretation of religion versus metaphoric interpretation of religion. Of respondents who claimed to practice a specific religion, 48% considered themselves to be a literal believer while 52% considered themselves to be a liberal member. Likewise, 48% of responders said that the miracle stories presented in religious texts, such as the bible, should be taken as literally true while 44% said they should be taken as metaphorically true (8% said they were Pious imaginings). Although the vast majority of Americans claim to be religious, there seems to be a divergence in opinions regarding how literal religious writings are.

Perceptions of prayer and its significance

While there is a wide split regarding the literal interpretation of religious texts, most responders consider prayer to be an important part of their everyday lives. 77% responded that prayer is either somewhat important in their everyday life or very important. 71% encourage family and friends to pray and 76% responded that they pray for individual friends and family members. This demonstrates that the difference in perceptions of responders concerning accuracy of religious texts does not significantly influence “religious” people from incorporating prayer into their everyday lives.

Religion and the practice of medicine

Religion and medicine also present some conflicting opinions and beliefs. Most responders feel that medical practices and religion should be kept separate. While 75% believe that religion is a reliable and necessary guide to life, only 41% responded that medical practices should be guided by religious and moral teachings. When asked how much of the outcome of medical or surgical treatment they believe is related to forces totally outside of human control (referring here to the "supernatural" or an "Act of God"), 55% of responders said either very little or none of the outcome should be attributed to non-human forces and 45% said either all or most of medical outcomes are influenced by non-human forces.

The Media Curves web site provides the media and general public with a venue to view Americans’ perceptions of popular and controversial media events and advertisements.

HCD Research is a communications research company headquartered in Flemington, NJ. The company's services include traditional and web-based communications research. For additional information on HCD Research, access the company’s web site at or call HCD Research at 908-788-9393.


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