With data like this, who needs the uncritical repetition of wild-a**ed guesses?
Other "data" one can get asking Americans about their beliefs is interesting, though less shocking -- but should one credit what they say, given the content of this last self-report? For example:
Although there was correlation between traditional religious beliefs and practices, and conservative social positions on abortion and homosexuality, "Americans ... were very comfortable being people of faith living in a modern, diverse society." In other words, Americans weren't bent on creating ethnic or religious homogeneity of the sort one hears urged by some Arabocentric mouthpieces advocating an Islamofascist state. On the other hand, maybe the survey underreported the views of folks living close to the borders or in major ports of entry, where this author has observed some fairly intense views about the epidemiological projections that depict a generally brown, Catholic nation by the end of the century.
US believers seem remarkably non-dogmatic: 7 of 10 report belief that multiple faiths can lead to eternal life, meaning that there's not just one true faith. If not "All Roads Lead To Rome" then at least more than one. One religions position not apparently well-tolerated by Americans is no religion at all. Apparently respect for freedom of religion doesn't necessarily embrace respect for freedom from religion.
Three quarters pray at least once a week. This isn't so surprising, considering there's no detail regarding the content of these weekly prayers. A surgeon once confided in me that, cornered by a family devoted to prayer and given to conspicuous religious display, the inevitable question arose whether the surgeon's faith was adequate. "Doctor, do you pray?" The answer was immediate, intense, honest, and certain to satisfy: "Ma'am, I pray every time I enter the operating room." What wasn't admitted was the content of the prayer: Please, God -- don't let me f*ck up!
Again, though ... the religiously confident pro-God atheist has got to be the silliest feature I've heard posited about the American public in some time, crazier even than the several percent of the public who report being serial alien abductees.
SPECIAL: In honor of George Carlin's passing yesterday, I offer this, his very own irreverent dig:
The only good thing to come out of religion was the music.