The ICM poll of 10,000 people in the USA, UK, Israel, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico and Lebanon was carried out for the BBC
It reveals that only 46% of respondents in the UK said they have always believed in God – 27% less than the average. Only Russia (42%) and South Korea (28%) were lower. Furthermore just 52% of UK respondents believed God (or a Higher Power) created the universe, compared to 85% in the USA, 83% in Mexico, 99% in Indonesia and 96% in Lebanon.The highest levels of belief are found in the poorer nations of Nigeria (98%), India (92%) and Indonesia (97%).However, the USA – the richest nation polled – has a very high level of belief. Only 13% of those polled in America said they found it hard to believe in God (a Higher power) when there was so much suffering in the world.Yet this compares to more than half (52%) of those polled in the UK – the highest of all the countries – and more than twice the average. The figures for Lebanon were 2% and Nigeria 12%.
The survey found that Only 19% of those in the UK said they would die for their God/beliefs. This compares to 37% in Israel, 90% of those polled in Indonesia and Nigeria, and 71% in the USA and Lebanon.
A staggering 78% of those polled in the USA claimed to have studied religious texts, by far the largest figure, followed by 51% in Nigeria and 42% in the UK. This compares to an average of 33%.
The poll also looked at the place of religion in the world. Almost a third (29%) of people in the UK believe that the world would be a more peaceful place without beliefs in God but very few people in other countries agreed. Just 6% of those polled in America agreed with this view, 11% in Israel and 9% in India. The average across all ten countries was 10%.Only 15% of those polled in America blamed people of other religions for much of the trouble in the world compared with more than a third (37%) in the UK and 33% in Israel.This figure fell to 8% of those polled in Indonesia, 24% in Lebanon and 17% in India.
The poll also looked at levels of attendance at organised religious services in the UK compared to the rest of the world. Across the ten countries, an average of 46% regularly attend a religious service but the figure was 21% in the UK, the second lowest behind Russia (7%). The highest figure was 91% for Nigerians, with 54% in the USA.
Furthermore just 29% of UK respondents said they had been encouraged to believe in God by someone outside their family, compared with 57% in the USA.
With regards to prayer, a total of 95% of Nigerians polled said they prayed regularly as did 67% of those polled in the USA with further numbers praying occasionally at times of crisis. 28% in the UK said they prayed regularly and 41% in Israel. However 25% of people in the UK and 29% of people in Israel said they never prayed.
The poll did reveal however that nearly 30% of all atheists polled admitted they prayed sometimes.
Asked whether a belief in a God/higher power makes for a better human being, well over 80% of people in most countries agreed, but by far the lowest figure was in the UK with just 56%.
Furthermore, just 42% of UK respondents believed God (or a higher power) judges their actions and the way they lived their lives compared to 76% in America, 72% in Israel, 81% in Nigeria and an average of 70%.
Exploring the issue of tolerance of different religions the poll found that more than 90% of all respondents in Nigeria, Indonesia and Lebanon believed their God was the only true God.This compares to 70% in Israel and just 31% in the UK.
The majority of those polled when asked if they believed death was the end disagreed. This was the case for more than half of the UK respondents (51%), 79% of those polled in Nigeria, 75% in Lebanon and 74% in the USA.
Looking at how attitudes change across different religions, the poll found that while 85% of Hindus and 83% of Muslims said they prayed regularly, only 65% of Christians did and barely a third (38%) of Jews.
When asked if their God was the only true God, 95% of Muslims said yes, compared with 68% of Christians and 66% of Jews.
But when asked if other religions were to blame for the troubles in the world, 34% of Jews agreed, while only 24% of Christians, 18% of Hindus and 14% of Muslims agreed.
What do you think?
Fascinating! Thanks for posting this!
I think it would interesting to see how the world sees God rather than a do you believe yes/no type question. Like the question about dying for God, it would be good to put some context around that. Responses like that can be easily used as fodder for the negatives of belief, but I think we need to be careful in assuming what other people mean by that question. I think questions like do you think God punishes the wicked, or would God ever ask you to kill someone (and would you do it)? Questions that revolve around what a person believes about God is important. Further, this research seems conducted from a judeo-christian monotheistic perspective and so the questions are leading and constrain the diversity I bet is there in the details. Moreovoer for a pretty irreligious nation some churches still experience growth in the UK, so it would be interesting to see where they fit (are they the serial monogamists of the religious world)?
So,Are us inhabitants of the UK completly wrong or completly right and everyone else out of kilter, since we are so out of step with other nations?However, I think that if the survey had included France, Germany or Sweden it would probably show that the UK has a European view whereas the US view of religion has always been out of step with the rest of the rich world and more in line with the poor.
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I guess i would be less interested in whether it is right but in when did this happen (if at all) and why? I don’t think Britain is out of kilter, i think America is. I bet the UK is very similar to most western countries, is that controversial?
Just in reference to my comment in the other post, I note:
“The highest levels of belief are found in the poorer nations of Nigeria (98%), India (92%) and Indonesia (97%).”
Having worked and traveled in Europe, I would say the UK is in line or even more religious than most of western Europe. The USA is out of line with developed countries. I was surprised at how many atheists sometimes prayed. That seems counterintuitive.
Well, I blame Henry VIII.
However, I would agree with Aaron Reeves that the US is the country out of kilter. We are a prosperous nation, but largely isolated and considered naive by many other nations. Also, to an American a belief in God, especially if you believe he prospers the righteous, is nicely self-serving. To an impoverished nation, the hope that God will prosper the righteous may also be self-serving. I suppose looking to God as a vending machine (the way many kids look at their parents) is probably not a great spiritual foundation, but it is a common religious one.
The poll showed the poorer nations(besides America) had the highest belief in God. I wonder as they prosper if that faith diminishes? That sounds familiar!!
6 GEB “I was surprised at how many atheists sometimes prayed. That seems counterintuitive.”
Could be because of the wording of the survey the word prayer was the closest word to meditate so they put yes.
2 “Moreovoer for a pretty irreligious nation some churches still experience growth in the UK”
What religions are those?
Jehovah’s Witness and Seventh Day Adventists. They out grow LDS(which is not much admittedly) by 5 times, at some points. Their retention seems higher as well. However, the basis for my information is cumorah.com. Recommneded by Armand Mauss, so defering to his authority i think it is fairly relaible.
Also atheists praying, might be like mormons drinking, everyone has lapses and experiences temptation.
A Catholic friend of mine who lives in Utah is very much a world traveler. A month or so ago he went on a rampage telling me how he hated the British. He told me how arrogant and insolent they are. His angst with them seemed to match what I read led Benjamin Franklin in turning against his previous opinion when he was scolded by the British Prime Minister and other leaders of government back then.
I wonder if there is a correlation between their arrogancy and their apparent lack of belief in deity. I would have guessed, having served a mission in France, that the French would be more atheistic than the Brits. I once even met a Catholic Priest in France who told us he was an atheist. When we asked him why he was a priest, he said, “It’s a job!” (LOL)!
Of course, I’ve heard tell a few Mormon bishops essentially saying things similar (arrrrgh!)
I don’t wonder but we have perhaps a case of Ammonihah syndrome. News from Scotland (which is, of course, part of the UK) from a month ago said that Scots had the highest alcoholic consumption per capita of ANYWHERE in the world, beating Russia, Scandinavian countries, etc!! Maybe if you don’t believe in God, you still may say (as the saying goes), “I believe I’ll have another (alcoholic) drink”!!!
Well, its one way to get the “spirit/(s)”, I suppose!
“A month or so ago he went on a rampage telling me how he hated the British. He told me how arrogant and insolent they are.”
I’m an American living in Britain and can relate some what to what your saying. Most Brits that go to the States are surprised on the whole of how kind and gracious Americans are. When they get back they tell me I am mad for living here!!
But its probably like any where the bigger cities are less friendly and as you go farther out the kinder they are. Paris the Parisians have a reputation of being very unfriendly to strangers , new Yorkers worst road rage.
It makes me wonder if their is a correlation per capita of faith if the population is dense less believing and as you come out of the cities faith increases.
Mankind are to blame for the troubles in the world!For ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of GOD!Please do not blame religion par say.All you so called religious ones,Remember God is Holy;we are NOT.God is LOVE. Every religion has a quote in its teaching which is to say the same thing.”.Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Greed and the lust for power has caused wars all down through history and is evident today.The west is NOT in the Middle East for humanity purposes but for the OIL,and other reasons which are known by the filthy rich.D.G.