A new Associated Press-GfK poll, carried out December 8-12 of this year, manages to unwittingly combine two superstitions: belief in Santa and belief in angels. It’s a very strange poll, but here are the salient results:
- Only 84% of children ever believed in Santa. 16% didn’t. Recall that that 16% of Santa atheists is much higher than the proportion of God atheists!
- The mean age at which kids stopped believing in Santa was 8.8 years
- 37% of Americans think that the Santa tradition enhances the religious aspect of Christmas (WHAT?), while 48% say it detracts
- 38% of Americans consider themselves born-again or evangelical Christians
- 77% of Americans believe in angels.
Remember that all of those kids who believed in Santa put away that mental toy at about age 9, but those 77% of Americans who believe in angels are all adults (those polled were over 18 years old).
So much for the contention of sophisticated theologians that Americans don’t really believe in the tenets of faith (and angels are barely mentioned in the Bible!), but simply see their religion as a pretty story, or, as Tim Padgett asserts, a “lovely idea” that inspires good works.