Craving forgiveness, but choosy in giving it

November 3, 2010

Most Americans have a desire for more forgiveness in their lives, but
they are more critical when choosing whom 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 October 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 that 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 said
they struggle with spirituality.

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

These findings were based on an
on­line survey conducted with 1,000 adults August 4–15 by StrategyOne, a
Washing­ton-based market research firm.  —RNS