Scientists largely agree that stem cells hold potential for the treatment, and possible cure, of many serious medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. While the use of adult stem cells in biomedical research is widely accepted, many religious groups oppose embryonic stem cell research, which involves the use and destruction of human embryos. The Catholic Church and many evangelical Protestant groups have called for a ban on all embryonic stem cell research, believing that “embryos constitute life.”
When measuring the social, political, religious and behavioral characteristics of evangelicals, the Barna Group found major differences between self-described evangelicals and Americans who are “evangelical” according to a nine point criteria of theological belief. Almost 40% percent of Americans are self-described “evangelicals.” But when nine basic theological beliefs are used as the criteria for who is evangelical, that number drops to a mere 8% of Americans; approximately 18 million adult Americans.
An extensive survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details statistics on religion in America and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid. What follows are excerpts and selected findings from the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.