Satan – the Evil One, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Devil.

All these names connote a malicious and hateful spirit, but to some Connecticut residents, the Prince of Darkness is nothing more than a rubbery Halloween mask.

According to a recent survey conducted by The Hartford Courant and the Center for Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA) at UConn, only 40 percent of Connecticut residents are positive Satan exists, while 30 percent believe Satan probably or definitely does not exist.

Monika McDermott, the CSRA research director said a reason for this trend is because New England residents generally interpret Scripture less literally than other U.S. residents. There tends to be more freedom and flexibility in how religion is presented in New England and Connecticut, McDermott said. “These stories should guide us in our life, but they’re still really stories,” she said.

McDermott also said Connecticut residents allow more room for doubt in their religion, which is why they would be less likely to be positive about the existence of hell or Satan than the rest of the nation.

The Rev. Jay Terbush, of Storrs Congregational Church, agreed that doubt is not only prevalent in today’s organized religion but also necessary to lead a healthy spiritual life.

“Living the question is one way to live a full life,” Terbush said. He could not imagine a faith without questions because uncertainties are an expected part of life. It is a sign of maturity in faith to struggle with questions,” he said.

The Rev. Hilary Dahlberg, also of Storrs Congregational Church, was not shocked people left room for doubt in their religion. Dahlberg said it would be strange for her church members not to ask questions and seek answers. She said people come to church to “grapple with faith.” Both Terbush and Dahlberg agreed many church members, especially students, are searching for tough answers, and spiritual direction is one helpful outlet.

Edy Fink, assistant director of Hillel at UConn, said students are definitely looking for some sort of spiritual connection and acceptance, and to “be part of something,” she said.

The concept of personal spirituality versus rigid organized religion is a relatively new one. Connecticut residents seem less concerned with the exact word of God and more with their own personal faith. Fink said this was not the case 10 years ago.

According to Fink, Hillel accommodates this new change by encouraging students to explore Judaism. “We’re letting people pick and choose,” she said. Fink said she thought some organizations on campus were there to teach students how to pray while Hillel acts as a spiritual sanctuary for anyone.

If the developing trend is to pick and choose personal beliefs, Satan seems to lack the votes. Either way, if only in Connecticut, Satan is left in the hellish dust.

Monika McDermott, the CSRA research director said a reason for this trend is because New England residents generally interpret Scripture less literally than other U.S. residents. There tends to be more freedom and flexibility in how religion is presented in New England and Connecticut, McDermott said. “These stories should guide us in our life, but they’re still really stories,” she said.

McDermott also said Connecticut residents allow more room for doubt in their religion, which is why they would be less likely to be positive about the existence of hell or Satan than the rest of the nation.

The Rev. Jay Terbush, of Storrs Congregational Church, agreed that doubt is not only prevalent in today’s organized religion but also necessary to lead a healthy spiritual life.

“Living the question is one way to live a full life,” Terbush said. He could not imagine a faith without questions because uncertainties are an expected part of life. It is a sign of maturity in faith to struggle with questions,” he said.

The Rev. Hilary Dahlberg, also of Storrs Congregational Church, was not shocked people left room for doubt in their religion. Dahlberg said it would be strange for her church members not to ask questions and seek answers. She said people come to church to “grapple with faith.” Both Terbush and Dahlberg agreed many church members, especially students, are searching for tough answers, and spiritual direction is one helpful outlet.

Edy Fink, assistant director of Hillel at UConn, said students are definitely looking for some sort of spiritual connection and acceptance, and to “be part of something,” she said.

The concept of personal spirituality versus rigid organized religion is a relatively new one. Connecticut residents seem less concerned with the exact word of God and more with their own personal faith. Fink said this was not the case 10 years ago.

According to Fink, Hillel accommodates this new change by encouraging students to explore Judaism. “We’re letting people pick and choose,” she said. Fink said she thought some organizations on campus were there to teach students how to pray while Hillel acts as a spiritual sanctuary for anyone.

If the developing trend is to pick and choose personal beliefs, Satan seems to lack the votes. Either way, if only in Connecticut, Satan is left in the hellish dust.

http://www.dailycampus.com/2.7440/connecticut-residents-not-giving-devil-his-due-1.1057324#.U3abafldVmg

September 10, 2007