A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals some startling differences between Republicans and Democrats on issues of spirituality and supernatural phenomenon.
The study, "Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths," reports that a significant number of Americans practice a mixture of religious beliefs, and "many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects." The report is not specifically about partisan differences, but the results of the study are broken down by party affiliation, among many other categories. And the news on that front is that Democrats are far more likely to believe in supernatural phenomenon than Republicans.
"Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says. For example, 21 percent of Republicans report that they have been in touch with someone who is dead, while 36 percent of Democrats say they have done so. Eleven percent of Republicans say they have seen a ghost, while 21 percent of Democrats say so. And nine percent of Republicans say they have consulted a fortuneteller, while 22 percent of Democrats have.
There's more. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in reincarnation, while 30 percent of Democrats do. Fourteen percent of Republicans say they believe in astrology, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Fifteen percent of Republicans say they view yoga as a spiritual practice, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in spiritual energy, while 30 percent of Democrats do.
There are some areas in which the two partisan groups are similar. When Pew asked respondents whether they have had a religious or mystical experience, 50 percent of Republicans said yes, as did 50 percent of Democrats. But overall, there are sizable disparities.
What accounts for them? Pew doesn't say. But the report does note that there are gender, ethnic, and racial differences in the totals. "Having been in touch with a dead person is more common among women than men," the report says. "Women are also twice as likely to have consulted a fortuneteller or psychic. Blacks report more experience feeling in touch with the dead than whites or Hispanics. But they resemble whites and Hispanics on other items, such as encounters with a ghost or consulting a fortuneteller." Some of those gender, ethnic and racial differences might come into play in the partisan totals. But in the end, the Pew report offers no solid answers for why there are such differences between Republicans and Democrats.
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