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Religious practices and information

How many people outside of North
go regularly to religious services?

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World-wide data:

The Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan periodically conducts the World Values Survey. It polls a statistically valid sample of adults from a total of 60 nations. Some of their findings from their 1995-1997 survey:

bullet The United States has a higher level of church attendance than any other country which is "at a comparable level of development."
bullet 53% of Americans consider religion to be very important in their lives. This compares with 16% in Britain, 14% in France and 13% in Germany.
bullet The importance of religion has been declining in developed countries.
bullet In those countries which are "experiencing economic stagnation and political uncertainty," the importance of religion is high.

Political scientist Ronald Inglehart, one of the authors of the Institute's 1998 survey commented: "Although church attendance is declining in nearly all advanced industrial societies, spiritual concerns more broadly defined are not. In fact, in most industrial societies, a growing share of the population is spending time thinking about the meaning and purpose of life." 1

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Percent of adults who attend religious services at least once a week: 

In order of decreasing attendance:

Country % Attendance
Nigeria 89%
Ireland 84% *
Philippines 68%
N. Ireland 58%
Puerto Rico 52%
South Africa 56%
Poland 55%
Portugal 47% *
Slovakia 47%
Mexico 46%
Italy 45% *
Dominican Republic 44%
Belgium 44%
United States 44%
Turkey 43%
Peru 43%
India 42%
Canada 38% *
Brazil 36%
Netherlands 35%
Venezuela 31%
Uruguay 31%
Austria 30% *
Britain 27% *
Chile 25%
Argentina 25%
Spain 25%
Solvenia 22%
Croatia 22%
Hungary 21% *
France 21% *
Romania 20% *
Switzerland 16%
Australia 16%
Lithuania 16%
South Korea 14%
W. Germany 14%
Czech Republic 14% *
Taiwan 11%
Bulgaria 10% *
Ukraine 10%
Moldova 10%
Georgia 10%
China 9%
Armenia 8%
Serbia 7%
Montenegro 7%
Azerbaijan 6%
Belarus 6%
Latvia 5%
Denmark 5% *
Norway 5%
East Germany 5%
Sweden 4%
Iceland 4%
Finland 4%
Estonia 4%
Japan 3%
Russia 2%

* Based on 1990-1991 survey data.

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These numbers are somewhat suspect. Church attendance data in the U.S. has been checked against actual values using two different techniques. The true figures show that only about 20% of Americans and 10% of Canadians actually go to church one or more times a week. Many Americans and Canadians tell pollsters that they have gone to church even though they have not. Whether this happens in other countries, with different cultures, is difficult to predict.

The Institute's 1998 study involved almost 166,000 people. They found that church attendance was in decline in 15 of 19 industrialized democracies. Only two showed small increases: Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Attendance in East Germany continues to decline, having dropped from 20% in 1991 to 9% in 1998. Five of eight ex-communist societies show an increase in church attendance. 2

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Diane Swanbrow, "Study of worldwide rates of religiosity, church attendance," University of Michigan news release at:
  2. Maranatha Christian Journal, "Study: Fewer Americans Seek Spiritual Answers From Church," at:

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Copyright 1999 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2007-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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