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Demography is Destiny

Europe is split about belief in God

Europe is split about belief in God

by Shannon Roberts | January 15, 2019

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Europe is split by striking differences in its attitude to God and the role religion plays in national identity.  Overall, Central and Eastern Europeans are much more religious than Western Europeans. 

Romania is Europe’s most religious country, according to research undertaken by the Pew Research Center.  The research found that 55% of Romanians are “highly religious”.  Armenia, Georgia, Greece and Moldova were also in the top five. 

Europe’s least religious countries were Estonia, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Belgium, where no more than 10% of people were “highly religious’’.  In the United Kingdom only 11% of people are “highly religious”.  The Pew Research Center’s interactive map provides a summary of all of Europe.

This results in a divide on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and the acceptance of Muslims in their communities.  For instance, 95% of Georgians oppose same-sex marriage and 85% oppose abortion, compared with 7% and 3% of Swedes respectively. 

In fact, Swedish officials increasingly take intentional steps to limit expressions of religion, recently making headlines for banning a citizen from registering license plates with a Christian connotation because it might cause offence to others.  This is in stark contrast to countries such as Armenia and Georgia where over 81% of people say it is "very or somewhat important to be a Christian to truly share their national identity".

The criteria to be regarded as “highly religious” were not overly strict, and looked at religious service attendance (at least monthly), prayer frequency (at least daily), belief in God and the self-described importance of religion in one’s life. 

People were regarded as “highly religious” if they were highly observant of at least two of the four measures, and did not report low observance of any of the measures unless they were high in all three of the other categories.

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