On Saturday 8th of June 2019,as part of the Gathered In Training day a Personal Beliefs Survey was carried out by volunteers in Cavan town between 3 and 4 pm. Up to 50 completed surveys were obtained from pedestrians on Main Street and homes in College Street, Wolfe Tone Street and Railway Road. The completed surveys were anonymous and there was no attempt to ascertain the religious affiliation of respondents. What did the survey tell us?
Question 1 asked what did you believe about God? Six out of ten respondents believed that God was personal. A quarter of those questioned were unclear about God .One out of ten thought God was a distant being and 3% of respondents did not believe that God existed.
Question 2 probed beliefs about the afterlife. Nearly four out of ten respondents believed that all went to heaven after death. Whereas a quarter held the belief that some went to heaven and others to hell. The remainder of those surveyed were equally made up of those who were unsure about the afterlife and those that thought that death was the end, there was nothing more.
Question 3 examined beliefs about Jesus. Six out of ten of those questions held the creedal belief that Jesus was the only Son of God. Just over a third replied that Jesus was a spokesperson for God, while about one in ten people thought that Jesus was an ordinary human being.
Question 4 asked people about their spirituality. Seven out of ten people admitted to praying about an issue; three out of ten had a definite spiritual experience. About four out of ten had experienced both prayer and a spiritual experience.
Question 5 enquired if people could know God personally would they be interested? Seven out of ten responded yes, two out of ten were unsure and the remainder were not interested in the possibility.
The survey was a limited exercise which gave a small snapshot of beliefs. Belief in a personal God, life after death, the divinity of Jesus, the reality of spiritual experiences, particularly prayer, and the desire for a relationship with God is strong. Deism and atheism are minority standpoints. Views on the afterlife were more mixed with less than 25% holding a traditional understanding of heaven and hell. The divinity of Jesus was questioned by almost 40% of the sample.
Most of those questioned were spiritual and were open to a personal relationship with God.