A recently released study found that wealthier nations tend to place less importance on religion—with the exception of the United States—than poorer nations.
The 44-nation survey, conducted by the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Pew Charitable Trust, entitled “Pew Global Attitudes Project”, says that six in 10 Americans, or 59 percent, claim religion as very important in their lives.
The study reveals that Americans are more religious than other wealthy nations, making them more in tune with the religious views of those surveyed in the developing countries.
This percentage is up to four times higher than wealthy countries in Western and Eastern Europe, and nearly twice that of Canadians vowing a religious lifestyle. [In] “Poland, the birthplace of the Pope and where the Catholic Church played a pivotal role during the communist era, just 36 percent say religion is very important,” the report says.
The population in Japan and South Korea is “far less likely to cite religion as personally important than those in poorer nations of the region,” the report says. An exception is Vietnam, where only 24 percent claim religion is important.
The Asian nations of Indonesia, India, Philippines and Bangladesh rank as high as the 80 and 90-plus percentile mark of those claiming a religious lifestyle. With the exception of Argentina, Latin American countries have a high percentage of people who agree with that view, and in all African countries at least eight out of 10 share that view. In countries designated as conflict areas, such as Pakistan and Turkey, religion ranked high as well.
Commenting on the survey, Kermit Netteburg, communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, identifies a certain dichotomy in America, “with more people expressing more commitment to religion, but with more people also exhibiting a lack of ethics in business, politics, personal lives, and education.”
Netteburg also says that “[Americans] seem to have lost sight of the central issue: Christianity provides the principles by which we make decisions in our lives, or Christianity does not have value.”
Eddie Gibbs, a world Christianity expert at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., said in a commentary reported in Charisma News Dec. 23 that “The predictions from the 1960s that American church attendance and conventional belief would decline did not come true. But I think it is true that beliefs are no longer impacting the culture.”