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December 13, 2009

When You Believe in Nothing You'll Fall For Anything

Byron York digs into the latest Pew poll on religion and faith and finds some interesting stats:

"Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says. For example, 21 percent of Republicans report that they have been in touch with someone who is dead, while 36 percent of Democrats say they have done so. Eleven percent of Republicans say they have seen a ghost, while 21 percent of Democrats say so. And nine percent of Republicans say they have consulted a fortuneteller, while 22 percent of Democrats have.

There's more. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in reincarnation, while 30 percent of Democrats do. Fourteen percent of Republicans say they believe in astrology, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Fifteen percent of Republicans say they view yoga as a spiritual practice, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in spiritual energy, while 30 percent of Democrats do.

There are some areas in which the two partisan groups are similar. When Pew asked respondents whether they have had a religious or mystical experience, 50 percent of Republicans said yes, as did 50 percent of Democrats.

So twice as many Democrats as Republicans say they've seen a ghost, believe in astrology, think yoga is a "spiritual practice" (whatever that means), and believe in "spiritual energy" (is that like ectoplasm?).

I suspect that for many people, quasi-religious things like yoga, astrology, and spiritual energy take the place of, well, actual religious things. Those magnetic beads are worn to say, "Hey, I believe in something, see. And they're, like, totally cool too."

That's the usual excuse, right. "Oh, I'm not religious. [shudder] I'm spiritual." It's the new-agey way of distancing oneself from that old hidebound religion of Mom and Dad. These folks are way too hip for that, but not genuine enough to entirely cut themselves loose. They'll cling to something vaguely religious-sounding instead.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 05:28 PM

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