More than three years after Pope Francis sparked a firestorm of religious debate by telling a young boy that his deceased atheist father might still end up in Heaven, a new study from the Pew Research Center shows a majority of Catholic and mainline Christians also believe people who don’t believe in God will go to Heaven.
Did not Jesus say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36
What are the Christian leaders in these denominations teaching their congregations? What did Jesus accomplish on The Cross on our behalf? Does it account for nothing? And yet we know that without Jesus’ sacrifice our Heavenly Father could not have sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers to sanctify us and enable us to live the Christian life.
Data for the Pew Research Centre study, conducted Sept. 20-26, was collected from a nationally representative sample of 6,485 U.S. adults.
Pew researchers decided for the first time to tackle deep philosophical questions like the meaning of life, the purpose of suffering, and why bad things happen to people. The national study was released amid a backdrop of major life-changing events for many, most notably the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed millions of lives globally.
In discussing American views on the afterlife, the study showed that majorities of U.S. adults believe in both Heaven and Hell, but significantly more believe in Heaven. Some 73% of respondents reported belief in Heaven, while 62% of respondents reported belief in Hell.
When it comes to Christians as a group, the study showed that the overwhelming majority of all Christian groups supported belief in Heaven. Protestants from historically black and evangelical churches were more likely than mainline Protestant Christians or Catholics to express belief in Hell.
And while 39% of all American adults, in general, believe people who don’t believe in God can still go to Heaven, 68% of Catholics and 56% of mainline Protestant Christians were found to hold this belief compared to 21% of evangelicals and 31% of Christians from historically black churches.