The survey, released Thursday by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, found that experiences of divine healing of physical ailments were far more prominent for those who affiliate with the vibrant and growing segment of Christianity.
Researchers found that many Pentecostals and charismatics attend worship services where speaking in tongues and other signs of the Holy Spirit are evident. But in six of the 10 countries surveyed, at least 40 percent of Pentecostals said they never pray or speak in tongues.
“I think that the classic Pentecostal belief that speaking in tongues was the real evidence of the second baptism of the Holy Spirit is, at least in practice, not widely accepted around the world,” said John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum and a longtime observer of religion and politics.
The Assemblies of God, one of the nation’s largest Pentecostal denominations with 3 million members, has 66 million members worldwide. Assemblies officials worried about the decline in messages in tongues — or spirit baptism — at a general council meeting this month. The practice decreased by about 3 percent to fewer than 82,000, the lowest total since 1995, according to statistics released by the Assemblies of God.
“This is a long-developing phenomenon,” said Harvey Cox, an expert in Pentecostalism and professor of religion at the Harvard Divinity School. “They don’t want what appears to be objectionable to stick out or be viewed with suspicion.” Pentecostalism represents one of the fastest-growing segments of global Christianity. At least a quarter of the world’s 2 billion Christians are members of the Pentecostal faith or related charismatic movements, according to the Pew Research Center.