The FINANCIAL - Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious

Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious

The FINANCIAL -- Georgians most religious among Eastern Orthodox peers

GORBI is the only member of WIN/Gallup International Association in Georgia. While this certainly provides advantages to my firm, it more importantly exposes readers of The Financial to unique data representing opinions from across planet Earth. This week my fellow Christians and I are celebrating Easter, and I am using this column to focus on religious beliefs globally and specifically in countries where Eastern Orthodoxy is the dominate faith.

63,898 people from 65 countries across the globe were asked the following question: “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not [what] would you say you are?”

•    63% of people polled say they are religious
•    China is the least religious country with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and Spain (20%).
•    Thailand is the most religious country (94%), followed by Armenia (93%), Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), and Morocco (93%).

New research this Easter shows that worldwide six out of ten (63%) citizens say they are religious, while one in five (22%) say they are not and one in ten (11%) considers themselves as convinced atheists.

In Africa and the Middle East more than 8 out of 10 people (86% and 82%, respectively) portray themselves as religious while 7 out of 10 say so in Eastern Europe and America  (71% and 66% respectively) and 6 out of 10 (62%) in Asia say they are.

Western Europe and Oceania are where opinions are most polarized between those who think of themselves as religious or not with around 4 out of 10 respondents (43% who say they are religious and 37% who say they are not in W. Europe and 44% versus 37% respectively in Oceania)  choosing one of these two options. It is also, in these two regions and in Asia where the largest number of atheists are found - slightly over 1 out of 10 in each region (Western Europe: 14%; Asia 14%; Oceania 12%).

The Most Religious

The research discovered that the most religious regions are Africa and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) where 86% and 82% respectively of the people consider themselves to be religious.  Meanwhile the most religious of the countries surveyed is Thailand with 94% saying that they are religious and just 2% describing themselves as either not religious or convinced atheists.  Thailand is followed by Armenia (93%), Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), Morocco (93%), Fiji (92%) and South Africa (91%). Just 30% of the citizens of the UK however consider themselves as religious and70% of Russians and 56% of Americans describe themselves in the same way.

Least Religious

Western Europe (51%) and Oceania (49%) are the only regions where approximately half of the population is either not religious or convinced atheists.  The least religious country was found to be China where 61% of people claim to be convinced atheists, approximately twice as many as any other country and 29% say that they are not religious compared to just 7% who are religious. The number of people claiming to be atheists was next highest in Hong Kong and Japan following China with 34% and 31% respectively claiming to be so. The Swedish prove to be the least religious in the Western World with 78% saying they are either not religious or convinced atheists.
In Israel, 65% of those asked said that they are either not religious or convinced atheists compared to just 30% who say that they are religious.  Meanwhile in the Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza) the population is considerably more religious with 75% saying that they are religious compared to 18% who say that they are not religious.

Global demographics of religion

The relationship between gender, age, income, education and people´s religiosity reveals interesting trends. Younger people (those under 34) tend to be more religious (about 66% as against about 60% for the other age groups). Those without what is considered an education are the most religious (80%) but religious people are a majority in all educational levels.

Income appears to exert a greater influence – among those with a medium high and high income, where less than 50% say they are religious, against 70% of those with low, medium low and medium income. Likewise, the number of convinced atheists is as high as 22% and 25% among people with medium high and high income but only 6% and 5% among people with low and medium low income.

Jean-Marc Leger, President of WIN/Gallup International Association, said: “Religion continues to dominate our everyday lives and we see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high. Furthermore, with the trend of an increasingly religious youth globally, we can assume that the number of people who consider themselves religious will only continue to increase.”

As for the level of religiousness among Eastern Orthodox countries, Georgia is the clear “leader” with absolute majority of people (93%) saying that “I am a religious person.” This is followed by Macedonia and Romania with 88% and 77% respectively. More than half of the respondents in other “Orthodox” countries also say that they are religious irrespective of what religiousness means to them.

Chart 1: Religiousness in countries where Eastern Orthodoxy is the largest single religious faith. Figures are given in percentages, answers are based on responses to “I am a religious person.”

Disclaimer: Gallup International Association or its members are not related to Gallup Inc., headquartered in Washington D.C which is no longer a member of Gallup International Association. Gallup International Association does not accept responsibility for opinion polling other than its own. We require that our surveys be credited fully as Gallup International (not Gallup or Gallup Poll). For further details see website:


Author: Merab Pachulia, GORBI


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