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43% of French young people believe in God, survey says

Research looks at how the young in France see secularism. People between 18 and 30 are more tolerant of religious symbols in public.

FUENTES Kantar Public institute AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus PARIS 12 DE DICIEMBRE DE 2023 13:27 h
Photo: [link]Priscilla Du Preez[/link], Unsplash CC0.

Most young people in France never or almost never attend a religious service, while only 8% go to chuch more than once a week.

Sociologists of the University of Bordeaux and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Charles Mercier and Philippe Portier, commissioned the Kantar Public institute to carry out a survey on “the relationship of French young people to secularism in a globalized world”.

1,000 young people between 18 and 30 were surveyed online in June 2023. the aim was to “measure and evaluate to what extent being in a globalized environment has an impact on their positioning regarding French secularism”.


Positioning and interest in religion

The survey analyses the positioning and interest in religion of this young people, showing that 52% say they do not belong to any religion, 38% point out they identify with a religion (18% to Roman Catholicism, 2% Protestants, 2% Orthodox and 12% to Islam). 10% do not know or do not want to answer that question.

As a result, most young French people never or almost never attend a religious service, while only 8% go to chuch more than once a week.

Despite that, the study reveals that 43% of young French people say they believe in God. “This represents 4 to 5 points above the entire population, which is significant for this type of question”, said Portier.

However, 63% of young French people believe that religion has little or no importance in their personal lives, just 31% consider it important, above all Muslims.


What is secularism?

Although the majoity of young people (89%) say they undestand the concept of secularism, they have different conceptions of it.

For 29% of them, it is above all a question of putting all religions on an equal basis; for 27%, it ensures freedom of conscience for citizens; according to 22%, it consists of separating religions from the political sphere and the state and 15% believe that its role is to reduce the influence of religions in society.

Researches also underline that 60% of young people believe that secularism is used by politicians and journalists to denigrate Muslims.

Futhermore, according to the suvey, a very large majority of young French people (68%) believe that “secularism should evolve in France”, but there is no consensus on how to do it: 24% of them say the evolution should be towards more tolerance towards religious expressions, and 29% are in favor of greater firmness; while 26% call for better collaboration between public institutions and the state and 28% call for more separation.


Religious symbols in public

Young people seem to be more inclusive than their elders when it comes to religious symbols in public, the survey reports.

For 45% of thm it is fine to wear visible religious symbols such as the veil or crosses, in companies, and 24% opposed. In public high schools, 43% of young people aged 18 to 30 are in favor, while 31% express their disagreement.

Portier pointed out that “there are only 20% of the population who have the same tolerance as young people in this area”.

“Experiences in their daily lives, such as being around young people who do not eat pork or who wear the veil, modify doctrinal patterns that could be previously acquired. For young people, these religious symbols do not amount to a kind of pre-radicalization and a potential threat as a large part of society may perceive”, he added.

Futhermore, young people see it “as necessary for them to express themselves as they want. Everyone must be able to do what they want as long as they respect the freedom of others. Wearing a headscarf or choosing your menu in the school restaurant does not necessarily imply a crisis of social bonds”, explained the sociologist.

Read the full survey here (in French).





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