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Europeans say “religion does more harm than good” but still think faith can make them “happy”

Gen Zers believe more in heaven and hell, a survey shows.

FUENTES Ipsos AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 27 DE JULIO DE 2023 13:17 h
A church building in Hamburg, Germany. / Photo: [link]Niklas Ohlrogge[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

Research about how people see religion in 26 countries of the world shows that Europeans trust religion less than the global average.

The Ipsos Global Religion Survey 2023 shows an interesting trend among the younger generation (those born after 1997 and known as Gen Zers): they pray and attend worship services more than their grandparents.


European youth more open to the spiritual world

In general terms, Europeans tend not to believe in the existence of supernatural spirits, hell or the devil, the survey shows. Belgium is clearly the place where respondents showed most scepticism: only 16% believe in hell and 18% in the existence of the devil.

When asked about heaven, the belief grows several points. Over 40% of Germans, Italians and Swedes say heaven exists.

[photo_footer] Data and graph: Ipsos Global Religion 2023 survey [/photo_footer] 

In Europe, Gen Zers (those younger than 26) are more open to believe in heaven than the Boomers generation. This change in trend is clearly seen (+20%) in Sweden, Hungary, France, Great Britain, Belgium and Germany.

This large difference between the youngest and the oldest in society is also observed when the question is asked about the existence of supernatural spirits and hell.


Why believing in God?

The survey also asked why people believe in God. The need to trust the divine to overcome crises such as illness, conflicts or disasters ranked highest. A majority agreed in Italy and Poland (76%) and less in Belgium and Sweden (56-58%).

Italian, Poles and Dutch were those who agreed most (over 75%) with the sentence, “believing in God or higher forces gives meaning to my life”. Germany, Belgium and Sweden were on the lower end but still saw a majority of those who believe agreeing (around 60%).

[photo_footer] Data and graph: Ipsos Global Religion 2023 survey [/photo_footer] 

It is the Dutch who linked belief in God most with seeking “happiness” (70%), followed by the Italians and the Brits (both 64%). Only in Hungary and Sweden less than half agreed (49% and 48%).


Coexistence with other religions

Among the countries interviewed in Europe (see grey box below), Germany is the place where most people were less comfortable with the coexistence of different religions. 56% in that country did not agree with the sentence, “I am completely comfortable being around people who have different religious beliefs than me”. Spain and Italy were also below the average of other countries.

Are “religious practices are an important factor in the moral life of my country’s citizens”? All European countries are again below the average (54%), with Hungary, Sweden and Germany having all less than 35% agreeing with the statement. Poland, Italy, Netherlands and Spain are more positive about the relation between religion and moral life (around 50%).


Religion seen as “harmful”

As many as 70% of the surveyed in Sweden think that “religion does more harm than good”. A majority sees it like this also in Great Britain (66%), Belgium (65%), Netherlands (64%), France (62%).

[photo_footer]   Data and graph: Ipsos Global Religion 2023 survey [/photo_footer] 

Only Hungary and Poland seem to be more positive about the role of religion in society.

Finally, Italy (34%) and Spain (29%) are the European countries where a more people agree with the idea that “my religion defines me as a person”. This identification is lowest in Germany (24%) and Hungary (15%).



  [title] What countries were surveyed? [/title]


10 of the countries included in Ipsos the “Global Religion 2023” survey are in Europe (Italy, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Belgium and Germany).

6 countries surveyed are in Asia (Turkey, India, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea), 6 in Latin America (Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Brazil), 2 in North America (United States and Canada), 1 in Africa (South Africa) and 1 in Oceania (Australia).

Although these countries are to a certain degree representative of trends in their region, the answers do not represent the full picture of trends in faith and religion in the whole world.






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