Forwarded email claims an NBC poll asking respondents if they believe in God yielded this result: 86% in favor of keeping the words 'In God we trust' on currency and 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, 14% against.
Description: Email flier
Circulating since: 2004
Status: Partly true
Email text contributed by Diana Y., Aug. 6, 2006:
Subject: Fw: NBC POLL
Do you believe in God?
NBC this morning had a poll on this question. They had the highest Number of responses that they have ever had for one of their polls, and the Percentage was the same as this:
86% to keep the words, IN God We Trust and God in the Pledge of Allegiance
That is a pretty 'commanding' public response.
I was asked to send this on if I agreed or delete if I didn't.
Now it is your turn .... It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore, I have a very hard time understanding why there is such A mess about having "In God We Trust" on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Why is the world catering to this 14%?
If you agree, pass this on, if not, simply delete.
In God We Trust
Analysis: Some versions of this 2004-vintage email claim NBC pollsters were "shocked" or "surprised" to learn that such a large percentage of respondents (86%) voted in favor of keeping the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" as the national motto. The point we're supposed to take away, evidently, is that the mainstream press is rife with Godless cretins who neither share nor understand the religious convictions of average Americans.
There's no evidence to suggest that anyone at NBC actually reacted that way to such a poll, however, and in point of fact it wouldn't have made sense if they had, given that the same questions constantly turn up in public opinion polls, and the results are always roughly the same.
It's unclear whether NBC actually conducted a "Do you believe in God?" poll around the time these messages first surfaced (2004). If they did I couldn't find evidence of it, though I gather from secondhand sources that NBC subsidiary CNBC did conduct a survey more or less along those line in March 2004, asking participants if the words "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. The results broke down similarly to those stated in the email: 85% answered no (meaning they favored keeping the phrase "under God," and 15% answered yes.
Public opinion polls have produced strikingly similar results over the years:
- A Newsweek poll in 2002 found that 87% of respondents favored keeping "under God" in the Pledge, and 9% were against.
- In 2003, a Gallup poll found that 90% of Americans surveyed were in favor of the inscription "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins. In addition to the 8% who said they opposed it, 2% said they didn't know.
- A 2004 Newsweek poll yielded 87% in favor of keeping "under God," 12% against, and 1% "not sure."
- An online poll launched by MSNBC in 2005 posed the question, "Should the motto 'In God We Trust' be removed from U.S. currency?" When last I checked the results, 89% had voted no and 11% had voted yes.
Sources and further reading:
Poll: Keep 'Under God' in Pledge of Allegiance
Associated Press, 24 March 2004
Live Vote: Should the Words 'Under God' Be Removed from U.S. Currency?
MSNBC, 18 November 2005
Last updated: 03/17/10