.- A recent survey reveals that 9 out of 10 Americans say they believe in God but they hold four very different views and understandings of God.
The national survey of more than 1,700 Americans, said to be the most comprehensive national religion survey to date, was conducted by Gallup and analyzed by sociologists at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.
The largest percentage of survey respondents (31.4 percent) believes in the Authoritarian God, who is angry at humanity's sins and engaged in everyone's life and worldly affairs.
Twenty-four percent of respondents said they believe God is a Distant God—a cosmic force that launched the universe and then left it on its own.
Twenty-three percent of respondents believe in the Benevolent God, which sets absolute standards for mankind but is seen as primarily a loving, forgiving Creator.
Sixteen percent believe in a Critical God, who keeps a judgmental eye on humanity, but does not intervene in events.
Most of people with the Authoritarian God view (43.5 percent) live in the South, while the Benevolent view is most common (28.8 percent) in the Midwest, the Critical God is most prevalent (21.2 percent) in the East and the Distant God is favored the most (30.3 percent) in the West, reported NewsMax.com.
The survey showed a fairly equal number of social conservatives and liberals believe in a God. And while about one-third of Americans say they belong to denominations that theologians consider evangelical, only 14 percent of those surveyed described themselves as evangelicals.
Furthermore, more than 80 percent of those who favor the Authoritarian God say same-sex marriage is wrong; 74.5 percent believe the federal government should advocate Christian values; and only 12.1 percent want to abolish the death penalty.
During Mass in Munich Monday, Pope Benedict clearly outlined the Catholic view of a loving God, who chooses to be close to his people through Jesus Christ.
“God is not far from us, he is not somewhere out in the universe, somewhere that none of us can go,” the Pope said during his homily. “He has pitched his tent among us: in Jesus he became one of us, flesh and blood just like us. This is his ‘tent.’”
The encounter with God, the Pope said, happens in baptism and in the Eucharist. The love of Jesus, which is both divine and human, “is the bath into which he plunges us at Baptism — the bath with which he washes us, cleansing us so that we can be fit for God and capable of living in his company,” the Pope said.