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    Post New survey compares percentages of Christians and unaffiliated in Western Europe

    A new survey by the Pew Research Center analyses the percentages of practising and non-practising Christians and unaffiliated people across West European countries. Here are a few infographics to illustrate the findings.



    The Benelux and Nordic countries have the least practising Christians. But the Netherlands is the only country where the unaffiliated are more numerous than the Christians. I am surprised at the figures for the UK as a national survey in 2015 found that 49% of the population was unaffiliated. Northern Ireland being so staunchly Christian, the percentage of unaffiliated should be well over 50% for Britain alone. The Scots were found to be the least religious, with probably over 60% of unaffiliated.





    The map fails to show regional differences, which are huge in Germany. East Germans are the most atheistic population in Europe. This means that West Germans are probably closer to Austrians and Italians around 80% Christians, in sharp contrast to Scandinavia and the Benelux.

    Normally the Netherlands, Britain and East Germany all have less than 50% of Christians, while Belgium, Sweden and Norway come close to 50%.






    Church-going Christians are less socially liberal and more nationalistic, just like in the USA. It's just that the US has a much higher proportion of them. What is odd is that Christians and unaffiliated people alike in Western Europe are more likely to accept a Muslim than a Jew in their family. This is completely unexpected and disconcerting for me. Maybe the question was phrased to mean only devout Orthodox Jews. But even then, the counterpart would be radical Muslim, which isn't better in any way.





    Here we see that Scandinavians, Dutch and Belgians are the most likely to say that science makes religion unnecessary.





    Here we see that the Portuguese, Spaniards, French and Swedes are the most tolerant of Islam, while the Finns are by far the least.




    Interesting how church-going Christians in Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium (but not Denmark) are much more open to immigration than non-practising Christians. It's the opposite trend of other countries!

    Overall it is Italians, Belgians and Danes that most strongly wish for immigration to their country to be reduced.




    Christianity has been stable in most countries for the 12 years between the two surveys (2002-2014), but has decreased substantially in places like Finland (-28%), Ireland (-11%), Belgium (-13%) and Portugal (-12%). That's -1% per year in average for the last three countries, the same rate as observed in the USA. I am not sure why it is not decreasing in other countries as well. Especially when considering that most West Europeans were found to be gradually drifting away from religion.




    Some countries may just have experienced a delay in the decline of Christianity. For example, the Wikipedia page on Religion in Italy shows that according to a 2012 survey 83.3% of Italians considered themselves Christian. But the Italian version as a more recent survey (2017) revealing that this had dropped to only 60.1% 5 years later! That's a massive decrease! (23%, so nearly 5% less each year). Here we see that 73% of Italians called themselves Christians in 2012, so obviously the data varies between survey, probably depending on how the questions were asked.


    Here we eee the enormous religious gap between Europeans and Americans.








    Belgium has the highest percentage of Atheists, followed by Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Sweden. Once again, I am sure that it is higher in Britain than this survey suggests.




    I don't understand why unaffiliated people raised as Christians are more tolerant of Muslims. I was raised a Christian (Catholic) in a rather devout environment (my grandfather almost became a priest) but that has only had for effect to make me intolerant of all religious people (in proportion to their religiosity). If you have experienced the trauma of religious brainwashing and proselytism it is hard to hold positive views of religion. That's why I feel that it is far more logical and expected that anybody who has been raised Christian (or Muslim or Jewish) and got out of it because they rejected their irrational beliefs and inflexible mindset should become more intolerant of religion than people raised in a tolerant unaffiliated environment from the start.

    I am surprised that the survey did not include questions about accepting Christian neighbours, Christian immigrants and a practising Christian as a family member. For me there is no difference between a practising Christian or a practising Muslim. I won't accept either as a family member (this means I had to sever relations with some of my blood relatives). I would be welcoming of unaffiliated Arabs but not of practising Christians from my own ethnic group. I am ok with non-practising Christians though, because they usually share the same values as unaffiliated people (as shown by this survey).


    The survey runs for 7 pages. This is just the data from the first page. I won't analyse the other pages as I don't have time.
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    @Maciamo,

    "What is odd is that Christians and unaffiliated people alike in Western Europe are more likely to accept a Muslim than a Jew in their family. This is completely unexpected and disconcerting for me. Maybe the question was phrased to mean only devout Orthodox Jews. But even then, the counterpart would be radical Muslim, which isn't better in any way."
    Isn't it the opposite if 24% are not willing to accept Muslims in the family but only 17% are not willing to accept Jews?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Isn't it the opposite if 24% are not willing to accept Muslims in the family but only 17% are not willing to accept Jews?
    You are right. I misread in my haste (didn't see the 'not'). That makes more sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    You are right. I misread in my haste (didn't see the 'not'). That makes more sense.
    I still find the 17% pretty high, don't you think? I wonder if it varies by age and country? Of course, it's a non-issue in most cases, right? I mean, with how many Jews do most Europeans come in contact nowadays?

    As you also pointed out, it may have to do with whether the Jews with whom they come into contact are strictly observant.

    I would have had absolutely no problem marrying a Jewish man, seriously considered it once on one of my "breaks", but I don't know if I could ever love a man enough to convert to Orthodox Judaism. My parents would have objected to that, but not to my marrying a non-observant man. They objected to other groups far more strenuously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I still find the 17% pretty high, don't you think? I wonder if it varies by age and country? Of course, it's a non-issue in most cases, right? I mean, with how many Jews do most Europeans come in contact nowadays?

    As you also pointed out, it may have to do with whether the Jews with whom they come into contact are strictly observant
    I think that most Europeans have very little first-hand experience of meeting Jewish people. In Belgium the city with the highest Jewish population is Antwerp, but these are mostly Orthodox Jews, who are completely different from most American Jews. Since the majority of American Jews are unaffiliated or liberal Jews, I suppose that most respondents didn't think of them for the purpose of this survey as it is a survey about religious beliefs, not ethnicity.

    Here is a comparison of how Europeans view Jewish people.


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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I think that most Europeans have very little first-hand experience of meeting Jewish people. In Belgium the city with the highest Jewish population is Antwerp, but these are mostly Orthodox Jews, who are completely different from most American Jews. Since the majority of American Jews are unaffiliated or liberal Jews, I suppose that most respondents didn't think of them for the purpose of this survey as it is a survey about religious beliefs, not ethnicity.

    Here is a comparison of how Europeans view Jewish people.

    It's just so different here. I bring my friends to visit my home town in the summer, or rather they come to see me there, and my family is always bemused that only a minority are of Italian descent. Of my closest friends: one Irish/English, two Jewish, two Italian, one German, one Greek.

    I think this is why I often have issues with the way certain Europeans see other groups, especially Jews.

    Perhaps the numbers for Spain are because they were under Franco for too long. (I mean in terms of belief and observance, not the Jews.)

    The funny thing is that people of Italian descent here are far more observant than Italians in Italy. They learned it from the Irish and the Protestants, I think. After going to Mass, my mother would constantly tell my father about all the lovely Irish families that went to church together. It never did any good. :)

    A lot of social life is based around religion even if they're "cafeteria" Christians, between Catholic Youth Organization sports, Catholic instruction classes, communions and confirmations, and the fact that a lot of people send their children to Catholic schools for the more rigorous, no nonsense instruction in the basics and for the discipline, so there's all the fund raising, fairs, carnivals, etc., while devout evangelicals build a huge percent of their social life around their church.

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    no-religion or nothing in particular is the new norm in western society
    .
    in Australia this trend is now running second to christians
    It’s the first time in Australia’s history the number of people who claim “no religion” has overtaken Catholics.
    The latest Census ( 2016 ) drop showed those ticking “no religion” rose from 22.6 per cent to 29.6 per cent — nearly double the 16 per cent in 2001.
    Meanwhile, those identifying as Catholic dropped from 25.3 per cent to 22.6 per cent.
    The number of Christians in total still made up 51 per cent of the population, but this is much less than the 88 per cent in 1966 and 74 per cent in 1991.
    Islam (2.6 per cent) and Buddhism (2.4 per cent) were the next most common religions reported.

    no religion also has the indigenous "religion" of Dream-Time in which some non-indigenous ( aboriginals ) are leaning to.
    .
    Note.....Australia has no religion in their constituation
    có che un pòpoło no 'l defende pi ła só łéngua el xe prónto par èser s'ciavo

    when a people no longer dares to defend its language it is ripe for slavery.

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    Spain and Finland shocked me.

    I wouldn't think that Spain is that much less religious.

    and

    Finland this much low atheist

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    This is also interesting. Lots of Swedes and Finns see yoga as a spiritual practice. Nearly half of Spaniards and Portuguese meditate and over one third of them believe in astrology.




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    Nearly 1 in 5 people believe reincarnation. Woow

    And I felt close to Iberians about evil eye issue. How do they call it?

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Boreas View Post
    Nearly 1 in 5 people believe reincarnation. Woow

    And I felt close to Iberians about evil eye issue. How do they call it?
    In Spain they call it 'Mal de Ojo'

    This is what I noticed too, by the way. Here we call it 'kako mati' (lit. 'bad eye'), though sometimes just 'mati' ('eye')

    The word 'kakos' had multiple meanings already in Ancient Greek like:

    1. As a measure of quality: bad, worthless, useless
    2. As a measure of appearance: ugly, hideous
    3. Of circumstances: injurious, wretched, unhappy
    4. As a measure of character: low, mean, vile, evil



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    Is someone who goes to a church once a month really 'practicing'? Why the don't go every week? Do they follow the teachings of their religious group? Do they read their scriptures etc?

    Actually, practicing Christians are significantly less than what that study shows.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by A. Papadimitriou View Post
    Is someone who goes to a church once a month really 'practicing'? Why the don't go every week? Do they follow the teachings of their religious group? Do they read their scriptures etc?
    Actually, practicing Christians are significantly less than what that study shows.
    why does one need to go to a place of prayer to be noted as "practicing" .?
    .
    It would be logical that a practicing religious person would be able to pray anywhere ................so the term numbers of "practicing" people would always be 100% in error

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sile View Post
    why does one need to go to a place of prayer to be noted as "practicing" .?
    .
    It would be logical that a practicing religious person would be able to pray anywhere ................so the term numbers of "practicing" people would always be 100% in error
    Maybe, though that depends on the denomination. If a denomination X requires weekly church attendance, you can't be 'practicing X' without weekly church attendance.

    Either way, even some of those who do go to church regularly see it as a social event.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A. Papadimitriou View Post
    Maybe, though that depends on the denomination. If a denomination X requires weekly church attendance, you can't be 'practicing X' without weekly church attendance.
    Either way, even some of those who do go to church regularly see it as a social event.
    There are people in prison, also the bed-ridden , some military elements and many other variables ...who cannot attend a house of pray.
    .
    We also have in some small country towns a place, sometimes an old church where there is no priest/minister etc but have a video link to a service from elsewhere....... these people attend this place and watch the service.
    .
    conclusion is that one does not even need to attend any house of pray to qualify for being a religious person.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sile View Post
    There are people in prison, also the bed-ridden , some military elements and many other variables ...who cannot attend a house of pray.
    .
    We also have in some small country towns a place, sometimes an old church where there is no priest/minister etc but have a video link to a service from elsewhere....... these people attend this place and watch the service.
    .
    conclusion is that one does not even need to attend any house of pray to qualify for being a religious person.
    And there are many who can and don't. (most of them)

    By the way, I said 'If a denomination X requires weekly church attendance, you can't be 'practicing X' without weekly church attendance.'
    Maybe some people work on Sunday mornings. Ok. What is the problem of the others? They can't wake up because they were clubbing?

    Either way, I don't care that much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A. Papadimitriou View Post
    Is someone who goes to a church once a month really 'practicing'? Why the don't go every week? Do they follow the teachings of their religious group? Do they read their scriptures etc?

    Actually, practicing Christians are significantly less than what that study shows.

    I think once in a month is a good rate. Even think that Christians who attend church ceremonies just for Noel, baptism or death.

    Also, Thanks for the info about "evil eye"

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    To be honest, the numbers about Denmark surprise me. We've actually seen high numbers of people leaving our lutheran state church the last years. And it's not reflected in that study at all. The numbers for non-practicing christians in Denmark just can't be right, as I see it. But I think it comes down to how you define "christian".

    I wonder how the study was made? How they framed the questions.

    If asked, most danes will say "yes, I'm christian", but what they mean is, that they are cultural christians. The amount of people in Denmark, who truely believe in the second coming of Jesus christ our saviour, and all that jazz, is really quite small - maybe 10%. So while 60% of the population are baptized in the lutheran state church, they absolutely don't believe in Jesus. It's just a tradition, a ritual.

    I actually held PEW to higher standards than this.

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    In my opinion, the christian god of the bible is a personal god. This study from www.europeanvaluesstudy.eu is giving a bit of a different picture than PEW, I think . I'd love to get the exact numbers, put to me it looks like 20% believing in a personal god in Denmark, for instance. And that must be counting both jews, christians and muslims.

    image is here
    http://www.europeanvaluesstudy.eu/fi...tanceofgod.jpg

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    Does their methodology match that of Pew?

    http://www.pewforum.org/2018/05/29/a...b-methodology/

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    They describe theirs better, but yes, I believe so. Here’s European value study’s methodology. www.europeanvaluesstudy.eu/page/methodology

    They ask people questions and then make statistics from that. But it’s beside the point imo. When it comes to how they formulate the questions, all it says is:
    "The questionnaire administered by survey interviewers was designed by Pew Research Center staff in consultation with subject matter experts and advisers to the project."

    I have a feeling it's not about methodology, but rather how you define "christian" (I guess that’s strictly speaking part of the methodology too, though). Notice that in Eauopeanvaluestudy they are asking the same thing, but with a different angle, which gives a different result.

    Since 1990 the number of members of the Lutheran state-church of Denmark has declined steadily from 90% to 76%. Number of baptisms are down from 80% in 1990 to 62% in 2017 (obviously muslim immigration also is a factor here, but not the sole one) Hows that for christianity growing in Denmark? Yes, culturally some people are maybe reclaiming a cultural christian identity as a defence against muslim immigration, but it's just superficial.

    Add to that, that you have to understand that just because people are members of the state-church because they were baptized by their parents, it doesn’t mean they believe in Jesus Christ or even god. It’s just a tradition. You can read about the danes relationship to their state-church here, if interested: https://international.kk.dk/artikel/are-danes-religious

    We actually even had a priest of the state-church in 2003, who openly declared he didn’t believe in god. It did cause some debate of cause. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorkild_Grosbøll

    Also......

    “According to a 2009 poll, 25% of Danes believe Jesus is the Son of God, and 18% believe he is the saviour of the world.”

    Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church...rch_attendance (the original source of the quote is from a yougov study. I’ll see if I can dig it up somewere in english if I have time)

    If you don’t believe Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, then you’re not a real Christian - because you don’t believe in the god of the new testament. Otherwise I'd label you: "a spiritual person from a christian culture". What could be called a “cultural Christian”. Many danes selfidentify as christians, while in reality - they're strictly speaking not.

    But can you believe in a pantheistic and un-personal God, and still call yourself christian? Of cause you can - because religions are ideas, and like all other man-made ideas, they can be put into all kinds of constellations with other ideas that shouldn’t fit together. And you don’t have to be consequent. I mean, can you be a neonazi skinhead and a jew at the same time? Of cause you can. Humans are full of contradictions and absurdities like that.

    The question, “are you a christian?” doesn’t neccesarily mean the same in the ears of a Scandinavian “cultural Christian” protestant and a southern European catholic.

    All that said, the more I think about it, maybe it’s just me misreading the infographics. But I do think that these kind of studies are hard to make, because you are trying to fit something very complex - what people think - into some small bars representing one simple sentence. Or maybe it’s just me splitting hairs and being to anal about semantics. Could be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla View Post
    All that said, the more I think about it, maybe it’s just me misreading the infographics. But I do think that these kind of studies are hard to make, because you are trying to fit something very complex - what people think - into some small bars representing one simple sentence. Or maybe it’s just me splitting hairs and being to anal about semantics. Could be.
    It's not you. The studies are bad.

    Concerning the EVS study, I have to say that someone 1) can believe in a personal god and 2) be culturally Christian but act as a de facto religiously indifferent person. That is very common here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I am not sure why it is not decreasing in other countries as well.
    Because religiosity is to some extent genetically determined (just like any other behavioural trait).

    In the past everyone was religious, even people with no genetic propensity to religiosity, due to circumstances (there was no religious freedom). When societies became secular, people were free to choose what they wanted or didn't want to believe in, so the share of religious people started declining. But only these individuals who are not genetically inclined to be religious are becoming unaffiliated.

    I think that there are hard-coded genetic limits to atheism, different depending on population.

    Unless you abolish religious freedom and force everyone to be atheist. I think that Germans became so atheistic under Communism because they tend to be conformists and obedient to authority (unlike Poles who tend to be nonconformists and rebellious, so Communist pressure to make the society more atheistic had effects opposite to expected - even more people started attending churches).

    Another issue is that religious people are having more children on average than atheists.

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    Also note that White Americans are largely descended from people who escaped religious persecutions in Europe. Their ancestors felt such strong ties with their religious beliefs, that they would rather risk everything and emigrate to an unknown land located on the other side of the ocean, than abandon their faith and convert to whatever the "mainstream" religious denomination in their kingdom was. I would not be surprised at all if it turns out that White Americans have on average a higher genetic propensity to religiosity than Europeans, due to that self-selection caused by emigration of deeply religious (and persecuted for their faith in their home countries) individuals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomenable View Post
    Also note that White Americans are largely descended from people who escaped religious persecutions in Europe. Their ancestors felt such strong ties with their religious beliefs, that they would rather risk everything and emigrate to an unknown land located on the other side of the ocean, than abandon their faith and convert to whatever the "mainstream" religious denomination in their kingdom was. I would not be surprised at all if it turns out that White Americans have on average a higher genetic propensity to religiosity than Europeans, due to that self-selection caused by emigration of deeply religious (and persecuted for their faith in their home countries) individuals.
    That is probably one reason why Americans are more religious than Europeans. That would apply especially to the part of the population descended from the emigrants who fled religious persecutions, so mostly the early settlers of the 17th century and who settled in the original 13 colonies and later expanded in what is now the Bible Belt. The descendants of these 17th-century settlers are the most likely to describe themselves as 'Americans' in the race and ethnicity survey.




    The map below shows the percentage of people who describes their ancestry as 'American' (because they have been there for centuries and in many cases lost track of their genealogical roots). It matches the extend of the Bible Belt.



    New York received many later emigrants (Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, etc.) who did not come because of religious persecutions, and indeed today New York and surrounding states are considerably more liberal and less religious than other eastern states that kept a higher proportion of original settlers.

    The West Coast was settled by adventurers who were generally less religious, and since the latter half of the 20th century has attracted immigrants from all over the world who were interested in the more liberal aspects of American culture and the "self-image" and Hollywood culture of California, which often clashes with conservative Christian values of the Bible Belt.

    Northern Midwest states were settled mostly by Scandinavians, Germans, Dutch and Belgians, who were religiously moderate and also did not migrate for religious reasons.

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