New poll finds a surprising number of Americans who believe in angels


Compared to the devil, angels have more credibility in America.

Angels have even more credibility than, well, Hell. More than astrology reincarnationand the belief that physical things can have spiritual energies.

In fact, about 7 out of 10 US adults say so believe in angelsaccording to a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

“People yearn for something bigger than themselves—beyond their comprehension,” said Jack Grogger, a church minister Los Angeles Angels and a longtime Southern California Fire Chief who has helped many people through their toughest moments.

This quest for something greater, he said, can take many forms, from following a religion to crafting a self-directed goal to believing in angels.

“For many people, worshiping angels is much safer,” said Grogger, who is also a minister at an interdenominational church in Orange, California, and chaplain for the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL.

People turn to angels for comfort, he said. They are well known and appear regularly in both pop culture and the Bible. In comparison, the worship of Jesus is far more elaborate; When Grogger preaches about angels, it is in the context that they are part of the kingdom of God.

Americans’ belief in angels (69%) is about on par with belief in heaven and the world power of prayer, but surpassed by belief in God or a higher power (79%). Fewer US adults believe in the devil or Satan (56%), astrology (34%), reincarnation (34%) and that physical things can have spiritual energies, such as plants, rivers or crystals (42%).

The widespread acceptance of angels shown in the AP-NORC poll makes sense to Susan Garrett, angel expert and New Testament professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kentucky. That agrees with historical surveys, she said, adding that the US remains a faith-based country even as more Americans reject organized religion.

But if the devil is in the details, so is man’s understanding of angels.

“They’re very malleable,” Garrett said of angels. “You can have very different worldviews in your understanding of how the cosmos is made up, whether there are spirits, whether there is life after death, whether there is a God… and still find a place for angels in it .” worldview.”

When people talk about angels, Garrett said, they often talk about other things, too, like how God interacts with the world and other ideas that are difficult to articulate.

The large number of adults in the US who say they believe in angels includes 84% ​​of those with a religious affiliation – 94% of evangelical Protestants, 81% of mainstream Protestants and 82% of Catholics – and 33% of those without such. And non-religious angel believers include 2% of atheists, 25% of agnostics, and 50% of those identified as “nothing special.”

It’s the broad acceptance that fascinates San Francisco-based witcher and author Devin Hunter: Angels appear independently in different religions and traditions and are thus part of the fabric that unites humanity.

“We all come to the same conclusion,” said Hunter, who was a 16-year professional medium and began communicating with people he believed to be angels as a child.

Hunter estimates that about half of those who practice modern witchcraft today believe in angels, and for some who don’t believe, their rejection often stems from the religious trauma they experienced as children.

“Angels are becoming a very big deal” for longtime practitioners who have made the occult their primary focus, said Hunter, an angel-loving occultist. “There’s no way we can outrun them.”

Jennifer Goodwin, of Oviedo, Florida, is also among about seven out of ten US adults who say they believe in angels. She is unsure if God exists and rejects the dichotomy of heaven and hell in the afterlife, but the recent death of her parents has cemented her views of these heavenly beings.

Goodwin believes her parents still have an eye on the family — not in a physical way or as a supernatural appearance, but that they manifest in those moments when she feels a general sense of comfort.

“I think they’re all around us, but in a way that we can’t understand,” Goodwin said. “I don’t know what else to call it, other than as an angel.”

Angels have different meanings for each person, and the idea that loved ones become heavenly angels after death is not an uncommon belief, nor is it a commonly held belief.

Reading the Scriptures as an evangelical evangelist, Grogger said he believed angels were something else entirely—they were never human and were at a different level in the hierarchy of heaven. “We are higher than angels,” he said. “We will not become an angel.”

Angels do interact with humans, Grogger said, but what “that looks like we’re not 100 percent sure about.” They worship God, who created this legion of angels in unknown numbers, he said, adding that evangelicals control the demonic forces in the world often attributed to the angels who fell from heaven when the devil rebelled.

Western ideas about angels can be traced back to the Bible — and to the worldviews of its monotheistic authors, Garrett said. These beliefs have changed and evolved over millennia, influenced by cultures, theologians and even the ancient polytheistic beliefs that existed before the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, she said.

“There’s a sort of continuity that you can trace from the Bible to the New Age movement,” said Susan Garrett, who wrote No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus.

The angels in the Bible obey God’s commands, and angelic violence is part of their job description, said Esther Hamori, author of the upcoming book God’s Monsters: Vengeful Spirits, Deadly Angels, Hybrid Creatures, and Divine Killer of the Bible. ”

“The angels of the Bible are just as likely to murder individuals and slaughter entire populations as they are to offer help, protect and deliver,” Hamori said. She doesn’t believe in these angels, but studies them as a professor of Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where she teaches a popular “Monster Heaven” class.

“They are just God’s obedient soldiers getting the job done, and sometimes that job is in people’s best interests and sometimes it isn’t,” she said.

The perception that angels appear angelic and look like the idyllic winged figures on Christmas trees could be traced back to the belief, centuries ago, that humans are assigned a good angel and an evil angel – or that they have a good spirit and an evil spirit who she leads, Garrett said.

This idea appears on the shoulders of comic book characters and is probably what Abraham Lincoln alluded to in his famous appeal to unity when he spoke of “the better angels of our nature” in his first inaugural address, she said.

“It’s also related to ideas about guardian angels, which again are very old beliefs that have evolved over the centuries,” Garrett said.

For Chicago native Sheila Avery, angels are protectors who can protect someone from harm. A member of a non-denominational church, Avery credits them with those moments when a person’s plans fail, but ultimately saves them from falling in the middle of an unexpected disaster.

“They turned on the news and in that particular place a terrible tragedy happened,” Avery said, hinting that it was an “angel who was probably watching over her.”

The survey of 1,680 adults was conducted May 11-15 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is intended to be representative of the US population. The sampling error rate is plus/minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.


The Associated Press’s religion coverage is supported by the APs Cooperation with The Conversation US, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Related Articles

Back to top button