Many Americans haunted by ghosts, look to astrology

Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:23am EST
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - Although most Americans are Christian and many are devout it hasn't stopped some members of the flock from believing in astrology, reincarnation or the ability of trees to trap spiritual energy.

A poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows a surprising number of U.S. adults claim to have had supernatural experiences such as ghost sightings or hold beliefs associated with the New Age movement or Eastern religions.

And some of them claim allegiance to more traditional faiths such as Catholicism or evangelical Protestantism.

"American religious folks hold a variety of views and there is overlap among their beliefs and practices. Many do not fit into simple boxes," said Pew researcher Alan Cooperman.

The poll released on Wednesday showed that three-in-ten Americans say they have felt in touch with a dead person and 18 percent say they have seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

Other Pew surveys have shown that relatively few Americans would identify an Eastern religion or New Age spirituality as their core faith. But about a quarter of those surveyed say they believe in aspects of Eastern religions.

Nearly 25 percent said they believed in reincarnation and 23 percent said yoga was a spiritual practice. Twenty six percent said they believed "spiritual energy" could be found in objects such as trees.

A quarter said they believed in astrology, while 16 percent of U.S. adults think that an "evil eye" exists or that some people can cast curses or spells on others. Among black Protestants the evil eye figure is 32 percent.   Continued...