TWICE as many Americans as people in the UK said in a survey that religion was very important in their lives.
The United States had the most people likely to rate religion as important, the survey found. It was carried out by Pew Research in the spring to research the attitudes of people in 23 high-income countries — including many in Europe, as well as Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Sweden and Japan had the fewest people for whom religion was important in their lives: five and eight per cent, respectively.
In the UK, 21 per cent of those questioned said that religion was very important to them, compared with 41 per cent in the United States, 37 per cent in Greece, and 36 per cent in Israel. Citizens of Spain and Germany gave similar responses to participants in the UK.
Questions about how the US is perceived around the world, however, show that most people surveyed did not see the US as more religious than other wealthy nations. Only 23 per cent of those surveyed thought that the US was widely religious.
This is despite the fact that previous analysis carried out by Pew found that the US stands out in terms of religious commitment, as the only country with above average GDP per capita, and above average frequency of daily prayer.
Even in the US, however, religious commitment is declining, with a sharp rise in those identifying as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular”, with projections suggesting that Christians may soon be outnumbered in the US by people not linked to a faith.
The latest census in the UK, last year found that, for the first time, less than half the population of England and Wales now describe themselves as Christian.