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Survey finds few volunteers for hell

An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to believe that there is life after death and that heaven and hell exist, according to a new study. What's more, most think they are heaven-bound.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans in the national survey said they believe they will go to heaven. Only one half of 1 percent said they were hell-bound, according to the poll by the Oxnard, Calif.-based Barna Research Group, an independent marketing research firm that has tracked trends related to beliefs, values and behaviors since 1984.

"We're optimists at heart," theologian Robert Johnston, professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., said, commenting on the survey's results. "If you really believe in hell, you wouldn't want to be there. By definition, hell is the denial of goodness."

The survey found that 76 percent of Americans believe in heaven and 71 percent in hell _ same as a decade ago. The poll interviewed 1,000 adults throughout September in all the states except Hawaii and Alaska. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.