The Story: A new survey finds that a majority of Americans personally believe in the existence of the devil and believe that demons can possess humans.
The Background: The latest YouGov research has found that more than half of all Americans (57%) believe in the existence of the devil and a slight majority (51%) believe in possession by evil spirits. Regardless of religious identity levels of belief top 50%, except for Jews, who theologically reject the idea of a sentient Satan. “Born-again” Christians are the most likely to both believe in the devil (86%) and possession (72%).
The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:
• Women are more likely than men to believe in the devil (61% to 53%) and demon possession (54% to 49%).
• A majority of all age groups believe the devil exists, with 45-64 year olds having the highest percentage of believers (62%) and the 30-44 range having the highest percentage of skeptics (30%).
• Republicans are more likely to believe in the devil than are Democrats (65% to 55%)
• Black (72%) and Hispanic (60%) Americans are more likely than whites (54%) to believe Satan is real.
• The college educated and those with less than a high school education are least likely to believe (48% and 49%) while high school grads, those with some college, and post graduates are most likely to believe (63%, 58%, and 51%).
• Belief is highest in the South (64%) and Midwest (56%).
• “Born again” Christians, Protestants, and Catholics are most likely to believe the devil exists (86%, 70%, and 66%) and demon possession is possible (72%, 59%, and 59%), while Jewish and Muslim Americans are the least likely religious groups to believe Satan is real (17% and 25%). Muslims are more likely to believe someone can be possessed an evil spirit (49%) than believe in the devil.
• Few Americans believe that possession occurs “very frequently” (6%) or “frequently” (9%). The exception is Muslim Americans, 60% of whom believe demon possession occurs frequently.