Most Catholics and mainline Protestants in the US believe people who do not have faith in God can go to heaven.
That’s according to a new study by Pew Research which surveyed more than 6,000 US adults on the meaning of life, the purpose of suffering and the reasons behind bad things happening to people.
Overall, US adults said they believe both in heaven and hell although significantly more in heaven with 73 per cent responding so compared to 62 per cent believing in hell.
When studying Christian groups, an overwhelming majority of all Christian denominations supported belief in heaven. Those which belong to the evangelical and historically Black Protestant traditions were more likely to believe in hell than other denominations.
When it comes to faith in God being a requirement to enter heaven, 68 per cent of Catholics and 58 per cent of mainline protestants said people can go to heaven without believing in God while 21 per cent of evangelicals and 31 per cent from historically black churches said only believers can access it.
Meanwhile, almost 25 per cent of those surveyed said they believe in neither heaven nor hell, including seven per cent who believe in some other kind of afterlife and 17 per cent who do not believe in anything at all.
The question of whether many religions can lead to eternal life in heaven was also posed to respondents. For 38 per cent of protestants their faith is the one true faith that leads to eternal life compared to 16 per cent of Catholics who would said that.
For most US adults (86 per cent), chance plays a part in suffering and believe it comes from people not from God.
The study also found that 91 per cent of Americans believe in God or a higher power.