Nearly half of all active Episcopalians in the United States are converts from other Christian churches, according to an Episcopal church survey.
The "Episcopalian Attitude Study," conducted for the Episcopal General Convention this fall, also shows that fewer than 60 percent of active Episcopalians surveyed believe Jesus Christ is God, about 15 percent believe the Bible should be taken literally as the actual word of God and 40 percent favor intercommunion and closer relations with the Roman Catholic Church.
The survey is based on more than 1,500 replies from active Episcopalians in about 500 parishes in all parts of the United States.
Of the survey group, 47.8 percent said they had been members of a religious group other than the Episcopal Church. Of that group, 26.6 percent had been Methodists, 18.6 percent had been Baptists, 17.3 percent had been Presbyterians, and 15.5 percent were former Roman Catholics.
In response to a question about Jesus Christ, 56.9 percent of active Episcopalians surveyed said Christ was God, 20.8 percent said he was a "divinely inspired man," 16.8 percent said he was a "great leader" and 0.3 percent said he "never actually lived."
Despite the generally accepted Anglican-Episcopal view that the Bible is not always to be taken literally, 14.6 percent of Episcopalians surveyed said they believed the fundamentalist position that the Bible is the "actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."
The majority (74.2 percent) believed the Bible is the "inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally word for word."
Nearly three-fifths of those surveyed (58.7 percent) said there should be increased cooperation by the Episcopal Church with Protestant denominations while 13.5 percent disagreed.
On one of the most divisive issues among Episcopalians, 57.8 percent agreed that the proposed Book of Common Prayer provides "excellent services of worship" while 23.8 percent disagreed.
Women in the priesthood was considered one of the most important issues facing the church by 16.4 percent and prayer book revision was called one of the most important issues by 14.5 percent.
Demographically, the survey showed that the heavy majority (65 percent) of active Episcopalians are women and a majority (54 percent) are college graduates.
Half said they attended church once a week and 27.5 percent said they had attended services two or three times a month. A strong majority (74 percent) said they lived in communities with 500,000 or fewer people and 55.9 percent said they were over 49. Nearly half said they were in business or the professions and half listed their total incomes last year at $20,000 or more.
Only 10.4 percent of the surveyed Episcopalians were in the age range of 18-29.