American Christians, particularly those from the Midwest, have been among the most skeptical of the doctrine of hell.
It’s a doctrine developed in the Bible, with the belief that the punishment for sin is eternal punishment, and that only the righteous will be saved.
But for many, it also represents the wrath of God.
“I don’t believe in God and I don’t have a relationship with God,” said Sarah Sowden, a 27-year-old theology student from Omaha, Nebraska, who is studying to become a theologian.
“God is the reason I exist and I’m a Christian.
It has nothing to do with anything.”
Sowder is not alone in her skepticism.
A study of 3,000 Americans conducted by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of them think hell is either impossible or “unthinkable.”
The majority of those who said they believe in heaven said they believed it because it was “better than hell.”
And the majority of Americans who said hell is impossible said they have “never considered” the idea.
It doesn’t seem that many Americans would be willing to pay for the afterlife.
According to Pew, only 17% of Americans believe it would be worth it to spend eternity in heaven.
The Pew Research study, published in the Journal of Religion and Health, also found that a majority of evangelical Christians and those who identify as “evangelical” believe that heaven is “the only way.”
But not all evangelicals are believers in heaven, nor do all believe in the afterlife or that it will save sinners.
But many believe that a hell that’s so real, it’s literally in the flesh, is the one the devil wants to punish sinners.
“If there is no God, what are we doing?” said Peter Rabe, a 36-year old computer technician from Louisville, Kentucky, who has been trying to convert people to Christianity since the early 2000s.
“We want to get out of this mess.”
It’s not just Christians who are questioning the belief.
A recent poll by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that two-thirds of Americans say hell is not a real place.
“The devil has not just been trying and trying and tries, but he has succeeded,” said Christian pastor John Hagee, who recently appeared on the Discovery Channel’s “Catch the Fall” to discuss hell.
“It’s like he has no problem with trying to bring on hell.
And then he has his plan for bringing it on.
He’s a cunning devil.
He wants to make sure you don’t go down the drain.”
Hageer, who once taught at a private evangelical church in Nebraska, said that while many of his church members still believe in a hell where people are punished for their sins, he has seen a drop in attendance.
“Now people are not so interested,” Hagees told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“There’s a lot of anxiety about hell.”