ReligionLink, a service of the Religion Newswriters Association, pulls together hot topics and links to resources for journalists working the religion beat. Their mid-October update gets reporters ready for the Halloween season with a run-down of just what you would expect from Halloween reporting. Namely Pagans, Day of the Dead, Pagans, teens and their Ouija boards, books about vampires, spooky movies and television, and for those writing in a Catholic market…Marian sightings. But before the weary religion-beat reporter files yet another story on the sales of tarot cards, he/she needs a fresh hook to tie it all together. Enter the flawed and controversial Baylor study on American religion and presto!
“As children know, Halloween is a time to let the imagination run wild. A new survey of religious beliefs, however, shows that adults do the same, and not just for Halloween. Baylor University’s expansive survey, released in September 2006, found what it termed a “surprising level” of paranormal belief and experience. According to a 2005 Gallup Poll, about 75 percent of Americans hold some form of belief in the paranormal – extrasensory perception, ghosts, telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, communicating with the dead, witches, reincarnation or channeling.”
So be on the lookout for Pagan and occult-oriented articles to reference the “surprising” level of paranormal belief in America. I imagine that surprising level would have been even more surprising if the survey hadn’t been so completely biased towards Christian religion. I just wonder when a country that produced Theosophy, Spiritualism, Transcendentalism, and later scores of modern Pagan traditions will stop being surprised at our collective belief in the paranormal.