Most Americans Believe Afterlife Communication is Possible

Proof of the afterlife

A 2021 Pew Research study* surveyed U.S. adults about their beliefs concerning heaven, hell, and the afterlife. 

Approximately 70% of Americans believe that it is possible to sense “the presence of someone who has died,” while roughly half of the population (51%) thinks that living individuals can receive assistance from the departed, and 47% believe in the possibility of some form of communication with them. When it comes to personal experiences, 44% of U.S. adults say they have felt the presence of someone who has passed away, while smaller percentages report receiving help from the deceased (20%) or having communicated with them (14%).

Regarding differences based on religious affiliation, Catholics are more inclined than Protestants to believe in the ability to feel the presence of the departed (86% vs. 71%), with about two-thirds of religiously unaffiliated individuals (66%) also expressing this belief. Catholics are also more likely than Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated to believe in the possibility of seeking help from the deceased (68% vs. 49% and 43%, respectively) and communicating with them (57% vs. 46% and 42%, respectively). In contrast, evangelical Protestants show no greater inclination than religiously unaffiliated Americans to report believing in or experiencing these interactions with the deceased.

Almost three-quarters of all U.S. adults (72%) think it is possible for people to have “a near-death experience in which their spirit actually leaves their body.” Protestants (82%) and Catholics (83%) are more likely than the religiously unaffiliated (55%) to believe that such an experience is possible, as are Black Americans compared with Americans of other races.


*”Views on the afterlife,” Pew Research Center, November 23, 2021.

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