Halloween is this Friday—a fun holiday with serious religious and pagan roots. Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, also known as All Saints’ Eve. It’s a time when the barrier between this world and the next thins and traffic between the two worlds is possible. To ward off evil spirits, people carved pumpkins or gourds into frightening images. Wearing a costume or mask disguised one’s identity and prevented hijacking by spirits or departed souls. (Want to know more about Halloween—or All Hallow’s Eve or Samhain? Check out this report by Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton.)
All of which makes this week a good time to discuss a topic we haven’t covered on Our Values.org: Hell.
Do you believe in Hell? Do you believe absolutely in the existence of Hell? Are you at least probably sure it exists?
Our colleague David Briggs has mined the Baylor Religion Survey to uncover what Americans believe about the existence of Hell. He reports that a majority of Americans (53%) have an absolute belief in the existence of Hell, with an additional 20% saying it probably exists. This means that almost three of four Americans believe in Hell. (Be sure to visit David’s web site, where he has assembled a Hell Quiz—just click on the image above.)
Belief in the existence of Hell doesn’t vary much across age groups. Younger Americans are just as likely as older Americans to be absolutely certain in the existence of Hell.
But there are other differences. Over eight of ten (85%) Americans who attend religious services weekly or more often absolutely believe in the existence of Hell. Yet almost one of four Americans (23%) who rarely go to religious services agrees.
Political conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe that people go to Hell as punishment for their sins. Indeed, staunch conservatives are three times more likely than ultra liberals to have this belief.
Do you believe in the existence of Hell?
Are you absolutely sure?