A new survey finds that nearly 70% of Americans believe in the existence of angels, more than believe in the devil or hell.
American’s belief in angels (69%) is about on par with belief in heaven and the power of prayer, but bested by belief in God or a higher power (79%). Fewer U.S. adults believe in the devil or Satan (56%), astrology (34%), reincarnation (34%), and that physical things can have spiritual energies, such as plants, rivers or crystals (42%).
The large number of U.S. adults who say they believe in angels includes 84% of those with a religious affiliation — 94% of evangelical Protestants, 81% of mainline Protestants and 82% of Catholics — and 33% of those without one. And of those angel-believing religiously unaffiliated, that includes 2% of atheists, 25% of agnostics and 50% of those identified as “nothing in particular.”
Why are angels so appealing?
“People are yearning for something greater than themselves — beyond their own understanding,” said Jack Grogger, a chaplain for the Los Angeles Angels and a longtime Southern California fire captain who has aided many people in their gravest moments.
“For a lot of people, angels are a lot safer to worship,” said Grogger, who also pastors a nondenominational church in Orange, California, and is a chaplain for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
When people have some kind of lucky escape, the idea that their ‘guardian angel’ was looking out for them makes sense, especially if the angel had some relationship with them while alive.
Jennifer Goodwin of Oviedo, Florida, also is among the roughly seven in 10 U.S. adults who say they believe in angels. She isn’t sure if God exists and rejects the afterlife dichotomy of heaven and hell, but the recent deaths of her parents solidified her views on these celestial beings.
Goodwin believes her parents are still keeping an eye on the family — not in any physical way or as a supernatural apparition, but that they manifest in those moments when she feels a general sense of comfort.
“I think that they are around us, but it’s in a way that we can’t understand,” Goodwin said. “I don’t know what else to call it except an angel.”
I kind of get it. God and the devil are formidable figures, like the CEOs of major corporations whom one may find it hard to relate to. Angels, on the other hand, are more like a hotel concierge, someone whose job it is to help you and thus one can feel a personal relationship with them.