Washington Post article
February 22, 1992
by Carey Kinsolving
In a day when “miracles” seem old-fashioned and out-of-touch, George Gallup Jr. says he keeps finding them in his polling data.
Gallup’s polling has explored America’s political and economic beliefs, as he puts it, “ad nauseum.” But his number-crunching also has helped lead him to something else: a deep spiritual experience.
Some of Gallup’s modern-day miracles:
· A surprising 41 percent of the nation’s teenagers go to organized Bible studies.
· Sixty-four percent of Americans believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is a living presence.
· Forty-two percent hold to a literal view of the Bible.
· 1.5 billion of the Earth’s population claim to be Christians.
· Most Americans believe Jesus Christ to have been totally free from sin.
Gallup told a recent breakfast gathering at the University Club, sponsored by “Here’s Life Washington,” that only three out of 100 Americans say Jesus Christ has had absolutely no influence on them.
In view of these figures, Gallup raises the question, “Why do people look elsewhere for the meaning in life?”
Many people, he added in an interview, avoid existential questions such as “Why am I here?” and “What is the purpose of my life?”
Gallup, 61, said he believes God is accessible, and it does not require a gigantic intellectual struggle to know him. “I have always felt the power of the logic in the question, ‘Was Jesus a liar, a madman, or was he the Son of God?’”
While becoming a Christian is a decision to accept God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, Gallup said, living the Christian life is a growth experience. “God’s plan for our lives is continually revealed to us as we seek to grow in obedience to Him.”
Gallup credits his wife and prayer partner of 33 years, Kingsley, as an essential part of his faith-deepening process. He considers a prayer partner a gift from God.
The Gallups regularly meet in small groups for Bible study and prayer. “We have experienced many miracles in our group – mostly miracles in healed relationships,” he said.
Kingsley Gallup said the Tuesday night meeting is always the highlight of their week. “It has given a new order and focus to our lives,” she said. “It certainly enriches the church experience on Sunday.” The Gallups attend All Saints Episcopal Church in Princeton, N.J.
The small group, which Kingsley Gallup calls a “covenant group,” has met regularly for almost four years. She said her personal growth can be marked from the time she committed to the group. The weekly meeting is divided into three segments of 30 minutes, sharing thoughts on a particular issue, Bible study and prayer.
George Gallup speaks of knowledge and behavior gaps when referring to American spirituality. Eight of 10 profess to be Christians, but only four of 10 know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Many, he said, fail to relate to Jesus Christ so that he is involved in their everyday decisions. Before Christian creeds and institutions developed, Christianity was “an experience of the living Christ among the Apostles at Pentecost,” Gallup said.
Gallup also expressed concern about the anxiety many Christians experience in talking about their faith outside the church. “Perhaps part of the reason for this reluctance is concern over sounding exclusive in our pluralistic society. Yet if we deny our own faith, aren’t we being dishonest to ourselves, to others and to God?”
For Gallup, exclusivity is the key to accepting and even loving those who reject Christian beliefs. “It is only through the grace of God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, that we have the power to love those who disagree with us and may even hate us.”
Ten percent of Americans fit into a category Gallup has labeled the “highly spiritually committed.” They are more concerned about the betterment of society, more involved in charitable activities and far happier than the rest.
His surveys show that they are more tolerant. “That’s one of the most important dimensions that comes out in surveys increasingly,” Gallup said. “The deeper one goes, the more open one becomes.”
When he was reminded that many people assume that the spiritually committed are less tolerant, Gallup said, “That’s right.”