The importance that people give
to religion in countries worldwide:
2002: The Pew Research Center worldwide survey:
The Pew Research Center conducted a series of studies called "The Pew
Global Attitudes Project." They measured the "impact of
globalization, modernization, rapid technological and cultural change and the
Sept. 11 terrorist events on the values and attitudes of more than 38,000 people
in 44 countries..." A poll released on 2002-DEC-19 revealed whether
people around the world consider religion to be personally important. 1
Results showing the balance of interest in secularism and religion were
reported from 41 countries. The percentage of the public who considered religion important ranged from 97% in Senegal to 11% in both France and the Czech
Republic. The Center reported that:
"Questions on the personal importance
of religion were not permitted in China, and were deemed too sensitive to ask in
Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon."
North American countries are shown in bold below:
% of adults for whom religion is important
A really big gap appears here!
A map giving results from newer surveys was published in 2017 and is available online. 5 It includes data from China. The map integrates data from three WIN/Gallup International polls, taken in 2008, 2009 and 2015.
Among the five countries in which religion is considered most important, four
have been involved in recent religiously-based conflicts in which persons of one
religion engage in mass murder of those of another religion. Countries in
which fewer than 60% of the public consider religion to be important have
been free of inter-religious conflict, with the exception of the
Protestant/Loyalist vs. Catholic/Unionists "Troubles" in Northern Ireland
which was largely settled in 2003.
More American adults consider religion much more important than do the citizens
of all other developed countries. "Americans' [religious] views are closer to
people in developing nations than to the publics of developed nations."
The population of the U.S. and Canada share a similar culture. Yet they
assign vastly different importance to religion -- Camada: only 40%; U.S. 56%. This
may well influence the two country's divergent policies on
abortion access, gun control, homosexual rights, universal health care, and
other conflicting social issues.
The public in most Muslim majority countries and in African and South American countries
consider religion to be very important. Argentina, Turkey and
Uzbekistan are exceptions.
The countries which formed the former USSR and the states
occupied by the USSR during the cold war appear to consider religion to be
less important. This is presumably due to the past influence of communism.
The Center attempted to correlate the importance given to
religion with annual per capita income. They found that, with the
exception of the U.S., richer nations tend to place less importance on
Eddie Gibbs, a world Christianity specialist from Fuller Theological
Seminary in Pasadena, CA commented:
"The jury is still out on
whether the United States will become as secular as Europe one day...The predictions from the 1960s
that American church attendance and conventional belief would decline did
not come true. But I think it is true that beliefs are no longer impacting
the culture." 2,3
The Reverend John Navone, a Jesuit theologian at the Gregorian
University in Rome, cautioned:
"Just because people say they are
religious, does not make it so, no more than if they say they are
intelligent or moral."
He suggested that the data is difficult to
interpret without a clearer definition of religion. He said:
problems that Jesus had were with religious people. According to the time,
the Scribes and the Pharisees had religion, and Jesus didn't at all...The
truly religious people I know don't boast about it. They have a radical
humility. And that goes for Einstein as well." 4
Kristine Greenaway, spokesperson for the World Council of Churches
in Geneva, said:
"Probably more Americans go to church than in Canada,
true, but it would be wrong to jump to assumptions about spirituality or
personal faith based on an inaccurate perception....[Europeans are
spiritual] but not necessarily in an organizational sense. They have the
same questions about a supreme being, about prayer and life after death
and they have a deep and sophisticated belief system, even if they are not
part of an institution." 4
Larry Witham of the Washington Times commented that America's:
rates of professed belief often have been attributed to religious freedom
and separation of church and state, whereas in most other countries a
state-established religion or a secular state policy has been enforced."
"Among Wealthy Nations, U.S. stands alone in its embrace of religion,"
2002-DEC-19, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, at: