Most Americans are not Scriptural Literalists

More interesting data from part two of the Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.  As reported earlier on this blog, most Americans from nearly every religion believe that other religions also offer a viable path to eternal life/salvation/etc.  A second significant finding is that a majority of Americans (58%) reject literalism in their approach to holy scripture.  In fact, only a third said that scripture (i.e. the Bible, in most cases) was literally the word of God, with most of them being Evangelical and/or black Protestants.

Catholics and Mainline Protestants both rejected literalism 66% of the time, with Orthodox Christians (62%) and Mormons (61%) right behind them.  Non-Christians were even less literal-minded: Hindus rejected literalism 71% of the time, Buddhists tossed it 77% of the time, and Jews rejected it a whopping 80% of the time.  On the other end, Muslims were on the fence, accepting literalism 50% of the time but also with 44% taking a more liberal approach.

Unitarian-Universalists and close kin rejected literalism 81% of the time (interestingly, 5% did say the Bible is the word of God, to be taken literally), and in fact within that number nearly all (76%) went further and said that the Bible was the work of men and not the word of God.  Thus most Americans are toward the liberal end (58%) and thus somewhat close to UUism in scriptural attitude, yet not so far as to agree with the 3/4 of UUs who say the Bible is not in some way the word of God (only 28%).


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