Belief in the importance of God and religion and the need for God to have morality is on the rise in certain Orthodox, former communist, countries, while Greece comes in first in Europe and the Western world for those who say religion is important in their lives, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
Last year, the Center asked 38,426 people in 34 countries about the connection between belief in God and morality and the importance of God and prayer in their lives.
Across the 34 countries, a median of 45% say it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral, and a median of 62% say religion plays an important role in their lives, though there are significant regional variations.
Within the European countries surveyed, Greeks are most likely to see a connection between belief in God and morality (53%), with Bulgarians and Ukrainians in a close second at 50%. The lowest is Sweden, at 9%.
However, countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines see a much stronger need for belief in God in order to be moral, both coming in at 96%.
Since 2002, the connection between belief in God and morality has grown significantly in Bulgaria (+17%) and Russia (+11%). Although Ukraine is still in second place in Europe, it has fallen 11% since 2002, from 61 to 50%.
In Greece, 30% say religion is somewhat important, and 50% very important, giving it the highest numbers in Europe and the Western world. The United States is second with 70% giving importance to religion. 59% give importance to religion in Bulgaria, 60% in Ukraine, and 63% in Russia. Lebanon shows an impressive 92%.
In Russia, 42% say prayer plays an important role in their lives, and 56%--God. In Bulgaria, the numbers are 41 and 55%, and in Ukraine: 52 and 62%. The numbers are much higher in Greece: 73% give importance to prayer, and 82% to God.
The importance of God has risen in the formerly communist countries of Russia (+16%), Bulgaria (+14%), and Ukraine (+12%). It has dropped most significantly, -26%, in Spain.
Predictably, the importance of God, religion, and prayer also greatly vary by age, level of education, economic situation, and other variables, discussed in the Pew report.
The majority-Orthodox countries of Romania and Georgia were not included in the survey.
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