Poll in 26 countries shows decline of Christianity in the West

Poll in 26 countries shows decline of Christianity in the West

A survey conducted in twenty countries by Ipsos Global Advisor reveals strong disparities in the religious landscape according to regions and generations. While the South is strongly steeped in beliefs in the supernatural, the North sees a decline in faith, with, however, a strong belief among Muslims with an immigrant background.

The results of a published survey May 11, 2023 by Ipsos Global Advisor indicate that and conducted via face-to-face and online interviews with 19 people in 731 countries. The minimum age for respondents varies by country and is at least 26 years old.

While the North is increasingly secularized and disenchanted, unlike the South, the Ipsos study highlights that young people living in several countries with a majority Christian culture are less likely than their elders to identify as Christians, in particular as Catholics, but that those who have a religion declare themselves more Muslims or of another faith.

Among the 16 of the 26 countries with the highest percentage of Catholics, the proportion of Gen Zers (born 1997 and later) who identify as Catholic is 16 points lower on average than the number of baby-givers. boomers (born between 1945 and 1965) who assert their Catholicity. In Belgium, Peru, Poland, France and Chile, there is even an average difference of 20 points.

In France, 41% of adults declare themselves to be Catholic, but they are 22% less to present themselves as such in Generation Z. In Belgium, the figures are respectively 38% and 29%.

The trend is also found to a lesser extent in 11 of the 12 countries where at least 15% of respondents identify as Protestant, Evangelical, or Christian without specific denomination, excluding Orthodox, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Gen Zers there are less likely than Baby Boomers to consider themselves Christian, with an average gap of 11 points. In Sweden and Australia, the differences exceed 20 points with 24 and 23 points respectively.

However, the discrepancies differ according to Christian denominations. If 18% of 16-74 year olds declare themselves Catholic in Australia, people from Generation Z outperform the others by 5 points. In Sweden, the figures are 6% of Catholics for all those over 16-74 years old, the young people of generation Z are 4% more to call themselves Catholics. In France, only 5% of this age category say they are Protestant, Evangelical or “simply Christian”, but 10% of the young people surveyed. In neighboring Belgium, there are 2% more young people who declare themselves Protestant, evangelical than in the rest of the population (5%).

In the United States, 21% of 18-74 year olds say they are Catholic, but there are 13% fewer Gen Z respondents who do. In the country where the motto is "In God We Trust", 31% of those questioned say they are Protestant, evangelical or Christian "other", but they are 7% less among Generation Z.

Importance of Islam among young people in the West

It is among Muslims that we find the largest gap in favor of religious belief between generations. In Western countries where less than 2% of adults call themselves Muslims, there are on average 7% more Gen Zers than baby boomers who claim Islam as their religion, proof of the vitality of this religion. demographically.

In France, 6% of adults say they are Muslim, but 7% more among 16-74 year olds. The figures are respectively 4% and 10% in Belgium, and 6% and 16% in the United Kingdom. Buddhism and Hinduism are making very little progress in the West, but in Canada 6% more young people call themselves Hindus than among the over 18-74s as a whole (2%), while in Australia the figures are 3% higher (compared to 2% among 16-74 year olds). In the latter country, 2% of respondents say they are Buddhists, but they are 5% among those of generation Z. The figures for Hinduism and Buddhism are significantly lower than those for Islam in Western countries.

Beliefs in the Supernatural and the Importance of Faith

Testimony to the Muslim demographic vitality on the one hand and the rise of an indefinite religiosity on the other hand, adults believe at 52% in Paradise in the 26 countries surveyed (including Turkey, India or Japan), but if we only consider people from Generation Z, they are 19% more. The gap is greater than 20% in eight countries including France, Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Regarding belief in supernatural spirits (fairies, ghosts, angels, demons, etc.), the average figure for all respondents is 49%, but it is 21% more among young people, with differences greater than 20% in nine countries including Germany, Japan and Sweden.

If 41% of all respondents believe in the existence of Hell, the figure rises to 62% among young people of generation Z, with differences greater than 20% in 10 countries, including France and Belgium.

Overall, 66% of Americans believe in Heaven, compared to 31% of French and 22% of Belgians. They are respectively 53%, 25% and 16% to believe in the existence of Hell, and 54%, 25% and 18% to believe in that of the devil.

Among respondents from the 26 countries, 76% say that believing in God or a higher force allows them to overcome crises, a similar figure regarding the idea that this faith gives meaning to life. 71% believe it makes them happier than average. 81% of Americans, 66% of French and 58% of Belgians believe that faith allows them to overcome crises. They are respectively 79%, 63% and 59% to believe that faith gives meaning to their lives.

Other figures in the United States and decommissioning of churches in Europe

A poll published on July 20 by Gallup indicates that belief in God, Heaven and Hell continues to fall in the United States, while giving other figures than those of Ipsos. Americans were 79% to believe in God in 2016, today they are 5% less to say it. Belief in the existence of Heaven rose from 71% to 67%. The one in the existence of Hell went from 64% to 59%, and the one in the existence of the devil from 61% to 58%.

In Europe, the decline of the Christian faith is reflected in particular by the decommissioning of churches which are transformed into venues or hotels, particularly in Belgium. Thus, the building of the Saint-Antoine de Padoue church, in Brussels, has been transformed to accommodate a climbing club named Maniak Padoue.

Also in the Belgian capital, an Anglican church has been transformed into a nightclub called Spirito, whose emblem represents a priest kissing a nun.

Jean Sarpedon

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Benoist

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