Religion still matters, global survey finds

A new Ipsos MORI poll has found that religion still matters to most people in the world.

The global survey looked at the views of over 18,000 people across 24 countries, including the UK and US.

Seven in 10 of those surveyed said they had a religion but there was a marked difference between Christians and Muslims when it came to the importance they placed on their faith.

In Muslim-majority countries, 94% of those with a religion agreed that their faith was important in their lives, compared to 66% in Christian-majority countries.

Muslims were far more likely to believe that their religion was the only true path to salvation, liberation or paradise – 61% compared to 19% in Christian-majority countries.

They were also more likely to say that their faith or religion was a key motivator in giving time and money to people in need – 61% compared to 24% in primarily Christian societies.

Overall, 30% said that their religion motivated them to give their time or money to people in need, while more than half (52%) said that their religion made no difference to their giving because they saw it as important in any case.

Globally, faith was found to be important to young people. Almost three-quarters (73%) of under-35s said their religion or faith was important in their life.

A third of all respondents across the 24 countries said they had no or almost no friends or acquaintances from any religion other than their own.

Chief executive of Ipsos MORI, Ben Page said: “The survey is a good reminder to many in western Europe of how much religion matters – and is a force for good – in much of the world.

“Our analysis shows people would rather keep politics separate from religion, but that in a globalising world, it still matters more than many in old Europe think.”

The results were also welcomed by Tony Blair, a practising Catholic and patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

“This survey shows how much religion matters and that no analysis of the contemporary world, political or social, is complete without understanding the relationship between faith and globalisation," he said.

“The evidence is that, though people fear the prospect of religious strife, even here in Britain, there is much to encourage the view that people can learn to respect those of another faith and live with them peacefully.

“Inter-faith dialogue and action today is not just an interesting but peripheral minor subject, it is the essence, central to creating greater social cohesion and harmony.”