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Survey: Fewer people believe in God

Recent Gallup poll shows 59% of men and women around the world define themselves as 'religious' - a 9% drop from 2005 poll. Judaism shows largest decrease in believers

Yoav Friedman
Published: 08.28.12, 13:56 / Israel Jewish Scene

A poll conducted last February by the Guttman Center for Surveys of the Israel Democracy Institute shows a rise in the proportion of Israelis who define themselves as religious Jews, yet the world is heading in the other direction.

 

The latest Gallup poll the results of which were published on Monday show that 59% percent of the world's population labeled itself religious, a 9% drop from previous surveys.

 

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The poll, titled “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism" included over 59,000 people from 57 nations, Israel not included. Each person was asked the following question "Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say that you are a religious person, not a religious person, or an atheist?"

 

Results show that alongside the 59% "religious",23% define themselves as "non religious"; 13% as "atheists" and 5% "without definition."

 

Despite the large scope of the poll, only 106 Jews were interviewed. They turned out to be the most secular group compared to other religions. Only 38% of the Jews defined themselves as religious; 54% defined themselves non religious and 2% - atheists. In comparison, 83% of Protestants and 81% of Catholics defined themselves as religious. Some 74% of  Muslims claim they are religious.

 

The low proportion of religious Jews coincides with a 2009 Poll by the Guttman center which found that 7% of Israelis define themselves as "ultra-Orthodox"; 15% as "religious"; 32% as "traditional"; 43% as secular and 3% as anti religious seculars.

 

The Gallup poll also shows that the poorer you are the more religious you're likely to be. While the bottom 20% of the population (in terms of income) boasts 66% who define themselves as religious, the top 20% has only 49% religious.

 

Of the 57 countries who participated in the poll, the top 10 most religious countries were Ghana: (96%) Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji, Macedonia, Romania, Iraq, Kenya, Peru, Brazil (85%)

 

The top 10 atheist countries were China: (47% atheist), Japan, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Germany, Netherlands and Austria, Iceland, Australia, Ireland (10% atheist each)

 

Vietnam displays the largest drop in self proclaimed people of faith - from 53% to 30% - in the past six years. France showed the biggest increase in "atheists" - from 14% in 2005 to 29% in 2011.

 

The poll didn't find a large gap between women and men who define themselves as religious (57% and 60% respectively) but there seems to be a link between education and religiousness. Of the interviewees who have only an elementary education 68% consider themselves religious compared to 61% and 52% of high school & university graduates respectively.

 

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