Survey Says Most Americans Believe In Multiple Paths to Salvation

December 18, 2008

Author: Bob Allen

Source: Associated Baptist Press

http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3726&Itemid=53

A majority of American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life, says a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Even among evangelicals, a branch of Protestant Christianity identified with the idea that an individual must be "born again" into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order to be saved, nearly as many Christians said many religions can lead to eternal life (47 percent) as those who believe theirs is the one true faith (49 percent).

The survey, released Dec. 18, followed up an earlier poll that found that seven Americans in 10 believe many religions can lead to salvation while less than one quarter say their faith is the only one that is true. Critics of that study questioned those findings, suggesting that for many Christians, "other religion" might have meant a different Christian denomination instead of a non-Christian faith.

The new study asks those who say many religions can lead to eternal life questions about specific faiths. Sixty-nine percent said Judaism can lead to eternal life, compared to 52 percent for Islam, 53 percent for Hinduism, 42 percent for atheists and 56 percent for people with no religious faith.

"Responses to these questions show that most American Christians are not thinking only of other Christian denominations when they say many religions provide a path to eternal life," the study found. "To the contrary, among those who say many religions provide a path to eternal life, strong majorities believe that both Christian and non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life."