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Miracles, Divine Healings, and Angels: Beliefs Among U.S. Adults 45+

The purpose of this study was to understand what Americans age 45 and older think about miracles and miraculous events, including what they believe about divine healings, guardian angels, the circumstances under which someone may receive a miracle, and how miraculous events have changed their outlook on life. The information was gathered to inform articles for AARP The Magazine and AARP Viva.

The July 2008 telephone survey included a Hispanic oversample. Key findings include:

  • Four in five survey respondents (80%) say they believe that miracles occur today as in ancient times, while 67% say they believe that illnesses and injuries can be divinely healed.
  • Respondents age 45-54 were more likely to believe in miracles (85%) than those age 55 and older (77%).
  • Over a third (37%) say they have witnessed a miracle, 29% have witnessed a divine healing, and 11% have seen an angel.
  • When asked what makes someone worthy of receiving a miracle, having faith (73%), prayer (67%), and strength of desire (55%) are seen by the majority to be determining factors.
  • Unsurprisingly, God (84%) and Jesus (75%) were the two figures respondents rated highest in bestowing miracles. Only 47% thought angels bestowed miracles.
  • A strong majority of Hispanics report believing in miracles (86%), spirits and angels (86%), and divine healings (82%), significantly more than white non-Hispanics.
  • Hispanics are just as likely as white non-Hispanics to say they are religious or spiritual. However, when asked about the frequency in which they engage in religious activities, Hispanics are more likely to say they pray, share their faith with others, and watch or listen to religious programming on a weekly basis than white non-Hispanics.

 

Questions were included on an omnibus survey on July 17-21, 2008, a weekly national telephone survey of U.S. households, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC). The survey was conducted with 1,315 respondents age 45 and older. In addition to the general population survey, ORC conducted a Hispanic oversample July 16-23, 2008, with 251 respondents age 45 and older. (47 pages)

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