Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 21, 2002

Poll finds U.S. high on religion

Keepiing the faith chart

Associated Press

• On the Web: Pew Research Center: www.people-press.org

Religion is much more important to Americans than people in other wealthy countries, according to an international poll that also found the United States is more spiritually akin to many developing nations.

In the United States, 59 percent of poll respondents said religion is "very important" in their lives.

That was well above the numbers for other industrialized nations including Britain (33 percent), Canada (30 percent), Italy (27 percent), South Korea (25 percent), Germany (21 percent), Japan (12 percent) and France (11 percent).

The poll, released Thursday, was sponsored by the Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Andrew Kohut, the center director, said previous international polling by the Gallup organization found similar religious patterns. Kohut said he would leave it to historians and sociologists to explain why America is distinct, but stressed the political impact of the findings.

"It's who we are, who we've always been," he said, and this "represents an important divide between the United States and our traditional allies" on matters such as abortion and use of new biological technologies.

Religiosity in the United States was exceeded by that in all 10 African nations that were polled, six in Latin America and six in Asia (including Turkey, which lies partly in Europe).

Senegal (97 percent) was the most religious country while France and the Czech Republic were the least (11 percent each).

Muslim nations ranked high in religiosity. Among traditionally Christian countries, the United States was the only Western nation with numbers similar to those in the Philippines and most of Latin America.

The survey also showed the apparent continuing effect of formerly atheist regimes.

Only 36 percent of respondents in Poland, the pope's home country, said religion was very important to them. Numbers were lower in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Vietnam, the only currently communist country surveyed, posted 24 percent.

The project polled 38,000 people in 46 languages between July and October. The margin of error varied by country from 2.1 percentage points to 4.4 percentage points.