65% of "religiously affiliated" Americans believe people of faiths other than their own can also obtain eternal life (down 5% from 2007, 11% from 2002). Salvifically speaking, this number shows that Americans are more pluralistic and less triumphalistic; there are multiple paths up the mountain. I love that 42% of respondents think that athiests can make it. Also surveyed, the actions/behaviors leading to eternal life: 30% of those polled believe that faith alone will earn eternal life, and an equal amount (29%) believe that actions alone will earn eternal life; 10% believe that both faith and actions are required. Read the poll analysis for more thorough ... uh ... analysis-y stuff.
Charles Blow, op-ed columnist for the NYT, today tried to explain these results. Professor Alan Stegal, Barnard College, said in the article that our multicultural society (my take: exposure to a diversity of people of different faiths) makes it "hard for us to imagine God letting [those of other faiths] go to hell." I mostly agree with that, but whatever. The last paragraph of the op-ed is both insightful and hopeful:
Now, there remains the possibility that some of those polled may not have understood the implications of their answers. As John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said, “The capacity of ignorance to influence survey outcomes should never be underestimated.” But I don’t think that they are ignorant about this most basic tenet of their faith. I think that they are choosing to ignore it ... for goodness sake.