GIVE NOW to support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and World Mission responses to urgent humanitarian crises in West Africa and the Middle East. Give now

Study: Americans crave forgiveness but are choosy on dispensing it

November 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Most Americans have a desire for more forgiveness in their lives, but they are more critical when choosing who to forgive, according to a new survey. 

Sixty-two percent of American adults said they need more forgiveness in their personal lives, and 94 percent wanted to see more forgiveness in the country, according to a study by the Michigan-based Fetzer Institute.

“Americans express a near-universal desire for a more loving and unified world,” said the “Survey of Love and Forgiveness in American Society,” released on Oct. 28.

Researchers found that even though the U.S. is composed of people who are usually forgiving, more than half of Americans said there are situations where people should never be forgiven, including abuse, sexual crimes, murder and other intentionally committed crimes.

The survey found that a majority of Americans also believe forgiveness is conditional: 60 percent said “forgiving someone would first depend on the offender apologizing and making changes.”

Most people said they sought the advice of friends and family rather than religious leaders when grappling with issues of forgiveness, while one in four said they did not know where to go for help with spiritual needs, and a third of them struggle with spirituality.

While most Americans are not running to churches and religious leaders for guidance with forgiveness and other personal issues, 60 percent said they are more spiritual now than they were five years ago.

The findings were based on an online survey conducted by StrategyOne, which was taken Aug. 4-15 by 1,000 U.S. adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Leave a comment