According to a CBS News/New York Times Poll, two thirds of Americans believe in the Devil. And nearly as many believe in demonic possession--a phenomenon that 63 percent say cannot be fully explained by modern medicine or psychiatry. But far fewer believe in the power of exorcism.
The Devil Lives
Belief in the existence of the Devil cuts across most traditional demographic divisions: A majority or more - of men and women, of rich and poor, of different races, and of various political affiliations living all across the country - say they believe in the Devil.
Only people who say religion has no importance in their lives break this pattern--but even 17 percent of them say they believe in the existence of the Devil.
But there are other significant differences between some of these demographic groups. A total of 72 percent of political conservatives believe in the Devil, compared to 50 percent of liberals. And fewer Catholics believe than Protestants.
While majorities believe in demonic possession, only 37 percent believe in the power of exorcism. Younger adults are much MORE likely to believe in exorcism than older adults. Of Generation X, 52 percent believes, compared to just 16 percent of folks over 64. More Catholics than Protestants believe in exorcism. And as the importance people place on religion decreases, so does their belief in exorcism.
This poll was conducted among a nation-wide random sample of 825 adults, interviewed by telephone April 20-22, 1998. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample.