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Posted May 14, 2003

Results of a Recent Gallup Telephone Poll on Sin

Of 1,007 American adults found that 84 percent believe in sin, while 14 percent do not.

This number is down from 1995, when 90 percent said they believed in sin.

The 14 percent who said they do not believe in sin is the highest total in 22 years.

The question about sin showed little difference based on their age, race, sex and level of formal education.

Those more likely than others to say they do not believe in sin were those who identified themselves as having a liberal political ideology (25 percent), those with a postgraduate education (21 percent), or those who said they "rarely" or "never" attend religious services (22 percent).

"When most people think of sin, they think of it on a shallow basis," Gallup said. "Not as something (requiring) confession, contrition or restoration."

A series of Gallup polls from the late 1980s indicated eight out of 10 Americans believe in a "judgment day," when all will be accountable to God for their moral actions. Of every 10 Americans, eight identify themselves as part of a Christian tradition; 6 percent are non-Christian and 13 percent claim no religious tradition.

The poll on sin "ties in with the basic orthodox belief of Americans, though perhaps it's watered down some," Gallup said. "People may be attesting to the belief instead of having a solid belief themselves. Nonetheless, most acknowledge there is such a thing as sin."

The poll, conducted March 14-15, was timed to coincide with the Easter season.

Its margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent