Reprinted from Religion Watch April, 2000

Although a significant number of people say their near-death experiences have not been wholly positive, the incidents have served to strengthen the recipients' religiosity and spiritual lives, reports a new book.

The book "Blessings In Disguise" (Llewellyn Publishers, 2000) by Dr. Barbara Rommer, finds that 17.7% of near-death experiences (NDEs) have elements of terror, fear, and judgment. Rommer interviewed over 300 people with near-death experiences for her study. She finds that the most prevalent type of negative NDEs (involving 41% of these respondents) contained "graphic hellish landscapes and entities," such as demons and devilish imagery.

But these "less than positive experiencers" subsequently tended to have a greater belief in life after death than those with positive NDEs (67.7% versus 56.6%). They also were more likely to report that their experience significantly and positively changed their religious beliefs (58.3% for the negative experiencers versus 51% for the NDEs).

Rommer writes that one reason for the higher level of spiritual interest may be that these negative experiencers are more likely to start a spiritual search to gain an understanding of their experiences.

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