Saturday, December 24, 2011

Americans believe in angels

December 23, 2011 8:25 AM

Poll: Nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe in angels

    In this photo released by the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, is seen a fresco painted by Giotto in the famed basilica. (AP Photo/Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, ho)
    Angels don't just sing at Christmastime. For most Americans, they're a year-round presence. A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that 77 percent of adults believe these ethereal beings are real.
    Belief is primarily tied to religion, with 88 percent of Christians, 95 percent of evangelical Christians and 94 percent of those who attend weekly religious services of any sort saying they believe in angels.
    But belief in angels is fairly widespread even among the less religious. A majority of non-Christians think angels exist, as do more than 4 in 10 of those who never attend religious services.
    Beyond the religious gap, women are more likely than men to believe angels are real, and those over 30 are more apt than younger adults to think they exist.
    The finding mirrors a 2006 AP-AOL poll, which found 81 percent believed in angels.
    Previous polling has found the public a bit more likely to believe in God, but far less likely to believe in other other-worldly beings. In May, 92 percent of adults told Gallup pollsters they believed in God. But just 34 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll in 2007 said they believed in ghosts or UFOs.

    The Practical Buddist Responds

    Buddhists believe in angels, sort of.  It depends on the branch of Buddhism and its relationship to the culture and how it mixes with previous religions.  But there are definitely devas, composed of energy and light, and portrayed in human-like form. The don't involve themselves in human affairs much, unlike Christian angels. Many Thai people do believe that devas encourage meditation and find ways to harass evil-doers. No matter. Humans look for light.

    We seek the light. We crave guidance and inspiration and a model for pure goodness. It's easy to embody the light in a being that looks a bit like us.  Right now Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus, which was announced to Mary by a very senior angel. The Bible is full of divine messengers like Gabriel.

    Somehow, no matter what our religious tradition, we mostly like the idea of angels, beautiful and powerful spirits send to help, guide, or sometimes correct us.