As we continue our look at Baylor’s study on American religious life, the survey indicates “mystical” experiences are a common part of American religion, especially for conservative Protestants.
What do you think? Are conservative Protestants more like to believe in having “religious” experiences? Why or why not?
If anything, these experiences are an overlooked aspect of America’s national religious life. The Baylor Religion Survey asked respondents about: hearing the voice of God, feeling called by God to do something, being protected by a guardian angel, witnessing and/or receiving a miraculous physical healing, and speaking or praying in tongues. The ISR researchers found that such experiences are central to American religion.
Bader was stunned by the percentage of Americans – 55 percent – who said they were protected from harm by a guardian angel. “That was something that was a complete surprise because this is not a question, do you believe in guardian angels or do you believe in angels. This is a very specific question: Do you believe you have been protected from harm by a guardian angel? Do you believe you avoided an accident through the agency of a guardian angel? To find out that more than half of the American public believes this was shocking to me. I did not expect that.”
The survey found that 45 percent of Americans report having at least two religious encounters. Denomination matters, too. Conservative Protestants are more likely than liberal Protestants, Catholics or Jews to report religious or mystical experiences. However, these experiences are not limited to conservative Protestants. They occur with considerable frequency in nearly all religious groups. The survey also showed that women, African Americans and Republicans are more apt to have religious and mystical experiences.