Israel among world's least religious countries

Western Wall prayers  photo: Reuters

In a WIN/Gallup International survey, 65% of Israelis say they are not religious. Worldwide, 63% say they are religious.

Israel is one of the world's least religious countries. Almost two-thirds of Israelis describe themselves as either not religious or convinced atheists, according to a WIN (Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research)-Gallup International Survey carried out at the end of 2014.

In the survey, carried out among a total of 63,898 persons in 65 countries, respondents were asked, Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not would you say you are: a. a religious person, b. not a religious person, c. a convinced atheist, d. do not know/no response.

In Israel, 57% of those surveyed said they were "not a religious person"; 8% said they were "a convinced atheist"; 30% said they were "a religious person"; and 5% said they did not know or gave no response. These figures a total of 65% not religious or convinced atheists make Israel the eighth least religious country in the world.

In the Palestinian Territories on the other hand, 75% say that they are religious, compared with 18% who say that they are not religious and 1% who describe themselves as atheists.

Israel emerges as more secular than countries such as Germany (59% non-religious and atheists), Australia (58%), Switzerland (58%) and the US (39%).

Israel is also exceptional in its geographic area. 82% of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) described themselves as religious. Africa and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) are the world's most religious regions.

The most religious of the countries surveyed is Thailand with 94% saying that they are religious and just 2% describing themselves as either not religious or convinced atheists. Thailand is followed by Armenia (93%), Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), Morocco (93%), Fiji (92%) and South Africa (91%). Just 30% of the citizens of the UK consider themselves as religious, and 70% of Russians and 56% of Americans describe themselves in the same way.

China is the least religious country, with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and Spain (20%). The Swedish prove to be the least religious in the Western World, with 78% saying they are either not religious or convinced atheists.

Worldwide, 63% of people polled say they are religious, 22% say they are not, and 11% consider themselves convinced atheists. The global trend appears to be in the direction of greater religiosity:younger people (those under 34) tend to be more religious (about 66%, against about 60% for the other age groups). Those without what is considered an education are the most religious (80%) but religious people are a majority in all educational levels.

The survey report says that income appears to exert a greater influence. Among those with a medium high and high income, less than 50% say they are religious, against 70% of those with low, medium low and medium income. Likewise, the number of convinced atheists is as high as 22% and 25% among people with medium high and high income but only 6% and 5% among people with low and medium low income.

Jean-Marc Leger, president of WIN/Gallup International Association said, "Religion continues to dominate our everyday lives and we see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high. Furthermore, with the trend of an increasingly religious youth globally, we can assume that the number of people who consider themselves religious will only continue to increase.

WIN/Gallup International is made up of the 75 largest independent market research and polling firms in their respective countries with combined revenue of over 500 million and covering 95% of the worlds market.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 21, 2015

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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Western Wall prayers  photo: Reuters
Western Wall prayers photo: Reuters
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