WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) - More Americans have no doubts about the existence of God than ten years ago, according to a new poll released by the Pew Research Group on Sunday.

      The survey found that 71 percent of Americans say they never doubt the existence of God compared to 60 percent in 1987. Sixty-one percent also believe miracles find their source in God, whereas only 47 percent said that a decade ago. Researchers pointed to an increase in interest in spirituality and religion in popular culture for the surge. "Touched By An Angel" is a top-rated television show and books on angels, miracles, and spirituality are bestsellers, but religious leaders said that many of these products are the by-product of a de-institutionalized spirituality.

      Radio talk show host Laura Schlesinger asserted Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the United States is in the midst of a morality crisis. Americans "don't seem to have much of a moral framework," she said. She said the clergy bears responsibility, too. "I yell at the clergy all the time," she said. "I think the clergy -- with all due respect -- have become more like camp counselors than leaders. What they're doing is saying, 'I want the people to come back next week. You can't challenge them too much, can't ask too much, can't tell them that religion demands something of them.' God demands something of you. Since they're not doing that, it's like the inmates are running the institution."

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December 26-28, 1997 volume 8, no. 61         DAILY CATHOLIC