Religion plays a greater role in the daily lives of people in poor countries than those living in wealthy countries, according to 2009 surveys conducted by Gallup and released recently.
The number of adults worldwide who say religion is an important part of their daily remains high, at 84%. The figure for the United States was 65%, one of the few countries that bucks the trend – it’s both wealthy and religious.
The surveys, which looked at 114 countries, found a strong link between religiosity and a country’s socioeconomic status, with each of the most religious countries having a per-capita GDP of less than $5,000.
There were 10 countries and regions where at least 98% of people said religion was important to their daily life, including Bangladesh, Niger, Yemen, Indonesia, Malawi and Sri Lanka where the figure was 99%.
In countries with an average per-capita income of $2,000 or lower, some 95% said religion was important in their daily life. In the richest countries – those with an average per-capita income of more than $25,000 – the median proportion was far lower, at 47%.
In the UK, just 27% agreed that religion was important to their daily life, placing it in the bottom 10 alongside Russia (34%), France (30%), Hong Kong and Japan at 24%, Denmark (19%) and Sweden at (17%).
Italy and Greece had higher numbers of people who felt religion to be important to their daily lives, at 72% and 71% respectively, while Estonia had the lowest level of religiosity, at 16%.
Gallup said the survey results could indicate that religions plays a “more functional role” in poor countries by “helping many residents cope with a daily struggle to provide for themselves and their families”.
An Op-Ed writer in the New York Times created the graphic in this blog to visually represent Gallup’s findings, which you might find helpful.
Why does the United States buck the trend? What does this our 65% rating say about the United States? What are the implications for U.S. efforts at world evangelization?
Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 21 books on various aspects of church health and innovation. His recent “Leadership Network” books blogs include Updated Publishing Updates, Beyond Christendom Says Migration Keeps Transforming the Church, Terrific Biography of Rick Warren, The Soviet Plot to Kill God, The Worst Moment in Most Church Services, Excellent Resources for Church-Based Grants, Do White Churches Hold Others in Cultural Captivity?and Church Merger Phenomenon Continues to Expand,”We’re Tired of Trying to Microwave Church Leaders” (1 of 3), “We’re Tired of Trying to Microwave Church Leaders” (2 of 3), “We’re Tired of Trying to Microwave Church Leaders” (3 of 3),The Christian Century on Megachurches