Going to church this Sunday? Look around.The chances are that one in five of the people there find "spiritual energy" in mountains or trees, and one in six believe in the "evil eye," that certain people can cast curses with a look — beliefs your Christian pastor doesn't preach.
In a Catholic church? Chances are that one in five members believe in reincarnation in a way never taught in catechism class — that you'll be reborn in this world again and again.
Elements of Eastern faiths and New Age thinking have been widely adopted by 65% of U.S. adults, including many who call themselves Protestants and Catholics, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Wednesday.
Syncretism — mashing up contradictory beliefs like Catholic rocker Madonna's devotion to a Kabbalah-light version of Jewish mysticism — appears on the rise.
And, according to the survey's other major finding, devotion to one clear faith is fading.
Of the 72% of Americans who attend religious services at least once a year (excluding holidays, weddings and funerals), 35% say they attend in multiple places, often hop-scotching across denominations.
and matching practices and beliefs is as much the norm as it is the
exception," Pew's Alan Cooperman says. "Are they grazing, sampling,
just curious? We really don't know."
Even so, says Pew researcher Greg Smith, "these findings all point toward a spiritual and religious openness — not necessarily a lack of seriousness."
Pew says two in three adults believe in or cite an experience with at least one supernatural phenomenon, including:
•26% find "spiritual energy" in physical things.
•25% believe in astrology.
•24% say people will be reborn in this world again and again.
•23% say yoga is a "spiritual practice."