God is really popular in the U.S., reports the Vancouver Sun:
He gets more Oscar shout-outs than Meryl Streep, is name-checked by every other American Idol contestant and is presumed to have a vested interest in who wins hockey games.
This finding is based on a study by University of Toronto sociologist Scott Schieman:
The vast majority of Americans believe God is directly concerned with their personal affairs, with most assuming a divine reason for everything from job promotions to speeding tickets.
“In American culture — much less so in Canada — there’s a really constant flow of God-talk that references these small, personal interactions. It’s almost like a self-absorbed view of divine will,” says study author Scott Schieman, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.
“The extent that it’s so visible, almost saturating the culture at times, makes me think it’s not just metaphor or symbolism; many, many people believe these processes are real.”
Eight in 10 Americans say they depend on God for decision-making guidance. Seven in 10 believe that when good or bad things happen, the occurrences are part of God’s plan. And six in 10 believe God has set the course of their lives.
This might have drawbacks in the realm of personal efficacy, says Schieman:
Schieman find[s] that a third of Americans agree with the rather defeatist statement: “There’s no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God’s hands….If you feel like, ‘No matter what I do, it’s all going to work out a particular way,’ what does that do for your motivation?” says Schieman, who suggests the 32 per cent of people who behave this way do so because it relieves anxiety in desperate circumstances, shifting the pressure skyward.
Schieman says the idea of God as “a personal friend” can lend itself to positive effects, such as fostering an increased sense of social support, well-being and purpose.
To read more about Schieman’s study, you can also check him out the New York Times.