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RELIGION IS FARING WELL, BUT FAITH ISN'T UNCRITICAL

Significant minorities of American Christians do not believe in such tenets of their religion as the virgin birth, miracles, the devil or hell, the Harris Poll reported Sunday.

As in past polls, vast majorities of Americans said they believe in God (95 percent) and heaven (90 percent). Of the four in five Americans who describe themselves as Christian, 99 percent believe in God, 89 percent in the survival of the soul after death, 87 percent in miracles and 85 percent in the virgin birth of Jesus.Belief in the devil and hell drop off among Christians to 78 percent and 77 percent, respectively. Also surprising, according to Humphrey Taylor, chairman of Louis Harris and Associates, is that many non-Christians in the poll ascribe to uniquely Christian beliefs, including 52 percent who believe in the Resurrection, and 49 percent in the virgin birth.

Belief in other supernatural phenomena is less widespread among Americans, the poll found. Among Christians and non-Christians alike, 36 percent believe in ghosts. Non-Christians are slightly more likely to be among the 37 percent of Americans who believe in astrology.

The poll was taken by phone July 25-28 with 1,249 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.