Majority of Europeans Believe in God despite Declining Church Membership

Published 04 March 2005

According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Reader's Digest Germany, it has been stated that seven out of ten Europeans believe in God. However, it has been revealed that churches are losing their influence and faith is merely regarded as a matter of an individual. From November to January, 8,600 people were interviewed across 14 European countries.

97 percent of those interviewed in Poland said they believe in God. Portugal came with 90 percent, and Russia followed with 87 percent. The Czech Republic came in lowest with 37 percent, along with Netherlands (51) and Belgium (58).

However, the fact that an individual believes in God does not mean that they believe in life after death. Over half (53) of all Europeans believe that physical death is not the end. 43 percent say that religion is necessary to distinguish right from wrong. The Czech Republic (27), the Netherlands (25) and France (24) came in lowest to this conviction whilst countries such as Poland (86), Russia (78) and Switzerland (54) revealed strong views.

When asked if religion is a positive force in the world, 79 percent agreed in Portugal, 78 in Poland, and 72 in Spain. Belgium (39), Russia (36) and the Netherlands (34) answered that they were not that sure.

However, believing in God does not necessarily mean that Germans regard Him as a personal being. 83 percent of all believers say God is present in nature, 75 percent regard Him as their creator and 70 percent say God is an ever-present source in their life.

39 percent say religious faith gives a meaning to life. 45 percent says it gives a sense of protection. One percent said that faith is intimidating. 65 percent of all believers pray to connect with God, with two-thirds of their prayers being for "people who are important to me". Other prayer topics include peace and justice. A relatively small amount of prayers are concerned with "my sins and my salvation" (13) or "my work and my job" (11).

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