Belief and practice among Christians in US differ hugely from western Europe

Americans twice as likely as western Europeans to believe in God of Bible

Cross  on the top of Bray Head: 68  per cent of  American Christians pray daily, compared with 19 per cent in Ireland. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Cross on the top of Bray Head: 68 per cent of American Christians pray daily, compared with 19 per cent in Ireland. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Irish adults remain significantly closer to Berlin than Boston in terms of religious belief and practice, according to a new study from the Washington-based Pew Research Centre.

It has found that while the US has a religious make-up broadly similar to that of many western European countries, with most people describing themselves as Christian, American adults are much more religious than western Europeans, including the Irish.

Over two-thirds of American Christians pray daily (68 per cent) compared with a median of just 18 per cent of Christians across 15 surveyed countries in western Europe, including 19 per cent for Ireland, 6 per cent in Britain, 9 per cent in Germany, 12 per cent in Denmark and a surprising 38 per cent in the Netherlands.

Religious services

Almost two-third (64 per cent) of Americans also attend religious services at least monthly compared to 31 per cent of western Europeans, including 37 per cent of Irish who said they do so, 20 per cent in the UK, 22 per cent in France, and 24 per cent in Germany.

Americans are also much more likely than western Europeans to believe in God as described in the Bible. Over half of Americans (56 per cent) say this is the case, over double the 27 per cent median for the 15 western European countries.

In Ireland, 39 per cent believe in God as described in the Bible, while 29 per cent in the UK do so, 28 per cent in Germany, and 27 per cent in France. Only Portugal comes close to Ireland in this context, at 36 per cent.

Higher power

Americans are also much less likely than western Europeans to say they do not believe in a higher power of any kind, 10 per cent against a western European median of 26 per cent. In this instance, 18 per cent of the Irish said they do not believe in any higher power, compared to 27 per cent in the UK and France, and 28 per cent in Germany.

A great majority of Americans (61 per cent) believe God is all-powerful compared to a 25 per cent median in western Europe on this question. In Ireland, 37 per cent believe God is all-powerful compared to 24 per cent in the UK, 23 per cent in France, and 25 per cent in Germany.

On the other hand, 23 per cent of American adults identify as religiously unaffiliated (agnostic/atheistic/nothing in particular), the same as the UK and similar to Germany (24 per cent) and France (28 per cent). In Ireland just 15 per cent describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated.