Almost Two-Thirds of 18-29 Year Olds Believe in "Demon Possession" What Is Happening to America?
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Over one half (63 percent, to be exact) of young Americans 18-29 years old now believe in the notion that invisible, non-corporeal entities called "demons" can take partial or total control of human beings, revealed an October 2012 Public Policy Polling survey that also showed this belief isn't declining among the American population generally; it's growing.
Throughout last year, triumphal atheists and secularists had celebrated (and many of the religiously-inclined bemoaned) a 2012 survey, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which showed an increase, especially among young adults, in the number of Americans who declared no specific religious affiliation: a chunk of the population now up to almost 20 percent according to the survey. These Americans were dubbed the "nones".
The Pew survey finding was interpreted by some observers (who missed the fine print) as indicating that Americans are becoming less religious. But the survey didn't necessarily indicate that - it simply showed that Americans, young Americans especially, are dropping out of organized religion.
Here's where it gets interesting:
The Pew survey also showed that a whopping 85 percent of those "nones", Americans with no specific religious affiliation - who comprise almost twenty percent of the overall population - nonetheless had spiritual or supernatural beliefs and, as the October 2012 Public Policy Polling survey ( link to PDF of survey results) revealed, that included belief in the reality of demons.
In the lead-up to the 2012 election liberal media pounced on the PPP survey's revelation that 68 percent of Republicans evinced belief in demon possession. The finding was ridiculed as scandalous and characteristic of an alleged Republican Party disconnect from reality.
Now, PPP was among the top five polling firms in terms of accuracy in forecasting the 2012 election results, so there is good reason to take the survey finding seriously.
But critics of the GOP who used the survey to attack Republicans typically missed or ignored the fact that PPP's survey also showed that 49 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independent voters believed in demon possession too. In other words, a majority of Americans surveyed believed in demon possession.
And, PPP's survey revealed another astonishing fact; belief in demon possession seems to be growing.
While only 44% of Americans over 65 years of age surveyed by PPP believed in demon possession, 57% of Americans 47-65 did and, among the youngest group surveyed, Americans 18-29, 63% believed in demon possession. The demographic trend line seems obvious.
Just to make things perfectly clear, the Public Policy Polling survey was "Halloween-centric" - also polling beliefs about ghosts and haunted houses. So it was unlikely that respondents thought the survey's question about demons, "Do you think it’s possible for people to become possessed by demons, or not?", was asking about symbolic or figurative demons.
The PPP survey was asking respondents whether or not people could literally be possessed by evil spirits, in the style of actress Linda Blair, from the 1973 horror film The Exorcist.
We've been here before, of course:
During the 14th Century, in Germany, the populations of entire Jewish towns were massacred for an alleged Jewish role in spreading plague and, more generally, partnering with the devil. The massacres didn't stop the plague.
And consider the Salem Witch Trials: in that notorious episode of mass-hysteria, from 1692-1693 in Puritan New England hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft. Nineteen were hung. One, Giles Corey, was pressed to death by stones.