‘New Age’ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans

By Claire Gecewicz

Most American adults self-identify as Christians. But many Christians also hold what are sometimes characterized as “New Age” beliefs – including belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees. Many Americans who are religiously unaffiliated also have these beliefs.

Overall, roughly six-in-ten American adults accept at least one of these New Age beliefs. Specifically, four-in-ten believe in psychics and that spiritual energy can be found in physical objects, while somewhat smaller shares express belief in reincarnation (33%) and astrology (29%).

But New Age beliefs are not necessarily replacing belief in traditional forms of religious beliefs or practices. While eight-in-ten Christians say they believe in God as described in the Bible, six-in-ten believe in one or more of the four New Age beliefs analyzed here, ranging from 47% of evangelical Protestants to roughly seven-in-ten Catholics and Protestants in the historically black tradition.

Moreover, religiously unaffiliated Americans (those who say their religion is atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”) are about as likely as Christians to hold New Age beliefs. However, atheists are much less likely to believe in any of the four New Age beliefs than agnostics and those who say their religion is “nothing in particular.” Just 22% of atheists believe in at least one of four New Age beliefs, compared with 56% of agnostics and eight-in-ten among those whose religion is “nothing in particular.”

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