Beliefnet News

by Michelle Rindels
As Americans get older, their confidence in an afterlife
increases, according to a recent survey of people over 50 conducted by
the AARP, the advocacy group for seniors.
Seventy-three percent of older people believe in life after death,
and two-thirds of those believers say that confidence has grown with
age, according to the survey.
But while 86 percent of respondents say there is a heaven (70
percent believe in hell), they were split on what it looks like and if
humans go there. Forty percent of those who believe say heaven is a
place, while 47 percent think heaven is a “state of being.”
“Americans see life after death as a very dynamic thing,” said Alan
F. Segal, a professor of religion at Barnard College, in the AARP
article. “You don’t really hear about angels and wings, sitting on
clouds playing melodies. … They talk about humor in the afterlife,
continuing education, unifying families — like a retirement without
financial needs.”
While most people believe that heaven exists, and about nine in 10
of them say they’ll end up there, they are less sure about others.
People who believe in heaven say an average of 64 percent of others will
get there, too.
Other findings in the survey:
— Women are more likely to believe in an afterlife (80 percent)
than men (64 percent).
— Income matters: Of those who believe in an afterlife, 90 percent
of those earning $25,000 or less believe in heaven, compared to just 78
percent of people with an income of $75,000 and above.
— 29 percent of those who believe in a heaven think one must
“believe in Jesus Christ” to enter. Twenty-five percent believe “good
people” go to heaven, and 10 percent think everyone is admitted.
The survey was conducted by telephone between June 29 and July 10.
The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service

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