Stark east/west European differences on attitudes, religion and identity

Ireland tightly aligned to liberal values with 69% believing in God, Pew survey finds

The Pew Research Centre has found religion  “very important” to 23 per of Irish people, with 37 per cent attending religious services at least monthly and 19 per cent praying daily.

The Pew Research Centre has found religion “very important” to 23 per of Irish people, with 37 per cent attending religious services at least monthly and 19 per cent praying daily.

 

Almost seven in 10 people in Ireland (69 per cent) believe in God while 26 per cent do not, according to a survey carried out by a US research group.

Among those who do believe, however, just 24 per cent were “absolutely certain” of God’s existence while a further 44 per cent were “less certain”.

It also found that 56 per cent of Irish people believed religion and the State should be separate while 41 per cent believed the State should “support religious values and beliefs”.

The findings are among those established by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre following a survey of 34 European countries since 2015. Ireland was among western European countries surveyed between April and August of 2017.

In general, it found great differences in attitudes among eastern and western Europeans towards religion, minorities and social issues such as gay marriage and legal abortion, with western Europeans (including the Irish) much more liberal.

It found religion was “very important” to 23 per of Irish people, with 37 per cent attending religious services at least monthly and 19 per cent praying daily. Meanwhile, 88 per cent of Irish people said they were raised Christian with 80 per cent describing themselves as Christian, a drop of 8 per cent since a previous survey in 2015.

Same-sex marriage

Where abortion was concerned, 66 per of Irish people supported legal abortion with 30 per cent opposed, while 66 per cent of Irish people also supported gay marriage, compared to 27 per cent who were opposed.

When it came to national identity, 59 per cent believed being born in Ireland was important while 64 per cent thought family background in Ireland was important. On the same subject, 49 per cent of Irish did not believe their religion was an important factor in their identity, while 48 per cent felt it was.

Irish people were also among the more positive Europeans when it came to accepting Jews or Muslims as members of one’s family. Where Jews were concerned, 70 per cent of Irish people said they would accept them as family while 60 per cent said they would accept Muslims.

Similar to other western Europeans generally, the Irish were less likely to think their culture superior to others, with 42 per cent believing it was. That compared to 46 per cent for the British, 20 per cent for the Spanish, 36 per cent for the French, 69 per cent for the Russians, and 89 per cent for the Greeks.

Muslims and Jews

Central and eastern Europeans were more inclined to say their culture was superior. In general, the study found that fewer central and eastern Europeans would welcome Muslims or Jews into their families or communities, extend the right of marriage to gay or lesbian couples, or broaden the definition of national identity to include people born outside their country.

In nearly every central and eastern European country surveyed, fewer than half of adults said they would be willing to accept Muslims in their family while in nearly every western European country surveyed more than half said they would accept a Muslim into their family. A similar divide emerged between central/eastern Europe and western Europe with regard to accepting Jews into one’s family.