Religious Views and Beliefs Vary Greatly by Country, According to the Latest Financial Times/Harris Poll

People in the U.S. more likely to believe in God or any kind of Supreme

Being than those in five European countries



Dec 20, 2006, 00:00 ET from Harris Interactive

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. and LONDON, Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A Financial Times
 (FT)/Harris Poll conducted among adults in the United States and in five
 European countries (France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Spain) shows
 that Americans are more likely than Europeans to believe in any form of God
 or Supreme Being (73%). Of the European adults surveyed, Italians are the
 most likely to express this belief (62%) and, in contrast, the French are
 the least likely (27%).
     Among those adults who stated they do have religious beliefs, almost
 two-thirds (62%) of Italians say they have the same religious beliefs as
 both their parents. In stark contrast, just under two in five (39%) British
 adults share the same religious beliefs as either of their parents. In the
 U.S. about half (48%) of adults who stated they have religious beliefs say
 they share the same as both of their parents.
     This FT/Harris Poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive(R) among
 a total of 12,507 adults (aged 16 and over), within France (2,134); Germany
 (2,127); Great Britain (2,090); Spain (1,991); the United States (2,078),
 and 2,087 adults (aged 18 and over) in Italy, between 30th November and
 15th December 2006.
     Majorities in all five European countries favor separation of church
 and state. However, majorities in only three of five countries favor the
 teaching of religion in state schools.
     Across the five European countries surveyed, large majorities believe
 that the church and state should be kept separate in modern Europe. Adults
 in France (86%), Spain (84%) and Germany (77%) are more likely to say this,
 while British and Italian adults are somewhat less likely to agree with
 this sentiment (70% and 71% respectively).
     Modest majorities in Germany (56%) and in Britain (56%) and a larger
 majority in Italy (68%) favor the teaching of religion in public schools.
 However, many people in the United States (59%) and France (72%) are
 opposed to this, as are half (49%) of adults in Spain.
     Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll(R), Harris Interactive,
 states, "Given that the Queen is Head of the Church of England, and that
 Italy and Spain are usually thought of as Catholic countries, this is a
 remarkable finding."
     French and U.S. adults show a large difference in their attitudes
 toward the wearing of religious symbols and veils while in school.
     While just one in ten French adults believe children should be allowed
 to wear religious signs or articles of clothing at school, more than
 three-quarters (77%) of Americans believe that this should be allowed.
 Among other European adults, Italians (61%) are significantly more likely
 than British (48%), German (40%) or Spanish (44%) adults to agree that
 children should be allowed to wear religious signs or articles of clothing.
     Slightly more than two in five (43%) of all respondents indicated they
 were aware that the Dutch government has plans to draw up legislation that
 will ban the public wearing of all Islamic veils such as burqas, which
 cover the body and face. British, French and Italians are most likely to
 believe that the Dutch government should have the right to ban all Islamic
 veils which cover the body and face in all public places (39%, 39% and 35%
 respectively). In contrast, Americans are most likely to state that Islamic
 women should have the right to wear the Islamic veils if they wish to do so
 (59%).
     More than half (58%) of Italians believe that governments should
 legislate against forms of religious blasphemy, such as depriving something
 of its sacred character (for example, burning a bible or the Koran). This
 view was less prevalent in Spain (46%), France (42%), Germany (41%), Great
 Britain (37%), and the U.S. (31%)
     Other notable findings from the survey include:
 
     -- Only 35 percent or fewer adults in all five European countries think
        the European Union (EU) is predominantly a "Christian club", while
        majorities or pluralities in all of the countries surveyed think it is
        not. Italians are significantly more likely than all other Europeans
        surveyed to feel that religion is no barrier to entry to the EU (62%).
 
     -- Minorities across six countries favor making non-Christian holy days
        public holidays. However, Germans are most likely to believe that no
        other religions' holy days besides Christian holy days should be
        officially recognized as public holidays (63%).
 
     -- Half (50%) of all adults in Pope Benedict's home country of Germany
        think that he has been successful in promoting a dialogue with other
        religions.  But in most of the other countries, adults are not as
        confident in the Pope's success.  A majority in both France and Spain
        think the Pope has not been successful in promoting a dialogue (58% &
        57% respectively) while British (44%) and U.S. (41%) adults say they
        are not sure. In Italy, attitudes are more mixed - three in ten (29%)
        say Pope Benedict has been successful, while 43 percent say he hasn't
        and 28 percent are unsure.
 
     -- Only small minorities in all six countries would object to their
        children marrying outside their religion. One in five (21%) Italian
        adults would object to their child marrying someone of a different
        faith. The Spanish and French are the least likely of the nations
        surveyed to object (each 7%).
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 1
                         BELIEF IN GOD OR SUPREME BEING
   Q3005_1 "Thinking now about religion, would you say that you are a ... ?"
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Believer in any
      form of God or
      any type of
      supreme being     35         27        62      48      41         73
     Agnostic (one
      who is sceptical
      about the
       existence
      of God but not
      an atheist)       35         32        20      30      25         14
     Atheist
     (one who denies
      the existence
      of God)           17         32         7      11      20          4
     Would prefer
      not to say         6          6         8       8      10          6
     Not sure            7          4         3       3       4          3
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 2
                           PARENTS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
       Q3010_1 "Do you have the same religious beliefs as your parents?"
 
     Base: All adults who stated their beliefs
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes, I have the
      same religious
      beliefs as my
      mother             8         7         5       6        11        13
     Yes, I have the
      same religious
      beliefs as my
      father             5         4         4       6         5         4
     Yes, I have the
      same religious
      beliefs as both
     of my parents      35        45        62      48        49        48
     No, I do not
      share the same
      religious beliefs
      as either of my
      parents           39        32        21      35        26        28
     Would prefer
      not to say         2         3         3       2         5         1
     Not sure           11         9         4       4         5         5
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 3
                         SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
  Q3015_1 "Do you believe that the Church and state should be kept separate in
                                modern Europe?"
 
     Base: All EU adults in five countries
 
                       Great
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany
                         %         %         %       %        %
     Yes                70        86         71      84       77
     No                  9         5         20       9       10
     Not Sure           21        10          9       8       13
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 4
                      RELIGIOUS TEACHING IN STATE SCHOOLS
     Q3020_1 "Do you feel that religion should be taught in state schools?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes                56        20         68      40       56        28
     No                 29        72         25      49       35        59
     Not Sure           15         8          7      11        9        13
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 5
                      WEARING RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS IN SCHOOL
     Q3025_1 "Do you feel that children should be allowed to wear a
 religious sign
   or article of clothing at school which is representative of their beliefs
                      (such as crucifixes, headscarves)?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes                48        10        61       44       40        77
     No                 36        83        29       43       51        14
     Not Sure           15         7        10       13       10         8
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
                                    TABLE 6
                            BANNING OF ISLAMIC VEILS
     Q3030_1 "Did you know that the Dutch government have recently announced
 plans
     to draw up legislation that will ban the wearing in public of all
 Islamic
              veils which cover the body and face such as burqas?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %        %          %       %        %         %
     Yes                 54       29         56      52       35        34
     No                  42       57         39      39       56        59
     Not Sure             5       14          5      10        8         7
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 7
               DUTCH GOVERNMENT'S RIGHT TO BAN ALL ISLAMIC VEILS
     Q3035_1 "Do you feel that the Dutch government should have the right to
 ban
        all Islamic veils which cover the body and face such as burqas?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes, the Islamic
      veils should be
      banned in all
      public places.     39        39        35      23       27       14
     Yes, the Islamic
      veils should be
      banned but only
      in certain
      circumstances
      (for example,
       schools).         30        41        24      30       33       17
     No, Islamic women
      should have the
      right to wear the
      Islamic veils if
      they wish to
      do so.             23        13        34      39       33       59
     Not sure.            9         7         7       8        7       11
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 8
         RELEVANCE OF COUNTRY'S PREDOMINANT RELIGION TO E.U. MEMBERSHIP
     Q3040_1 "Do you feel that the European Union is predominantly a
 Christian
     club, or is a country's predominant religion irrelevant to E.U.
 membership?"
     Base: All EU adults in five countries
 
                          Great
                         Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany
                            %         %         %       %        %
     Yes, the E.U.
      is predominantly
      a Christian club      23       35         29      34       35
     No, religion is no
      barrier to entry
      to the E.U.           49       49         62      51       50
     Not sure               28       16          9      15       15
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 9
     OFFICIAL RECOGNITION OF OTHER RELIGIONS' HOLY DAYS AS PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
     Q3045_1 "Do you believe that other religions' holy days should be
 officially recognized as public holidays in the U.S./Europe, not just
 Christian holy days
                              such as Christmas?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes, certain
      religious holy
      days (such as
      the end of
      Ramadan for
      Muslims) should
      be made public
      holidays.          35       30         34      29       22         33
     No, no other
      religious days
      should be
      officially
      recognized         44       45         48      43       63         40
     Not sure.           21       24         18      28       16         27
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 10
    POPE BENEDICT XVI'S SUCCESS IN PROMOTING A DIALOGUE WITH OTHER RELIGIOUS
                                     FAITHS
 Q3050_1 "Do you feel that Pope Benedict XVI has been successful in promoting a
                     dialogue with other religious faiths?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes                12        15        29       20      50        17
     No                 44        58        43       57      23        42
     Not sure           44        27        28       23      26        41
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
 
 
                                    TABLE 11
     OBJECTION TO SON OR DAUGHTER MARRYING SOMEONE OF A DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS
 FAITH
     Q3055_1 "Would you object to your son or daughter marrying someone of a
                          different religious faith?"
     Base: All adults in six countries
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes                10         7         21      7        13        14
     No                 73        74         54     74        69        70
     Would prefer
      not to say         3         4          6      6         6         3
     Not sure           14        14         19     13        12        12
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
                                    TABLE 12
     WHETHER OR NOT GOVERNMENTS SHOULD LEGISLATE AGAINST RELIGIOUS BLASPHEMY
     Q 3060_1 "Do you feel that governments should legislate against
 religious
     blasphemy, such as depriving something of its sacred character (for
 example,
                        burning a bible or the Koran)?"
 
     Base: All adults in six countries
 
                       Great                                         United
                      Britain   France     Italy   Spain   Germany   States
                         %         %         %       %        %         %
     Yes                 37       42         58      46       41        31
     No                  41       41         28      42       40        52
     Not sure            22       17         15      12       19        17
 
     Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
 
     Methodology
     This FT/Harris Poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a
 total of 12,507 adults (aged 16 and over) within France, Germany, Great
 Britain, Spain and the United States, and adults (aged 18 and over) in
 Italy, between 30th November and 15th December 2006. Figures for age, sex,
 education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring
 them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity
 score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be
 online. Both unweighted and weighted bases are shown, and
 results/percentages represented are weighted.
     Unweighted bases for the survey are: Total 12,507; France 2,134;
 Germany 2,127; Great Britain 2,090; Italy 2,087; Spain 1,991; and the
 United States (2,078).
     Weighted bases for the survey are: Total 12,500; France 2,132; Germany
 2,124; Great Britain 2,092; Italy 2,088; Spain 1,991 and the United States
 (2,074).
     All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include:
 sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed);
 measurement error due to question wording and/or question order,
 deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, non-response
 (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used)
 and weighting. With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the
 errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to
 calculate a finite "margin of error" for any survey and the use of these
 words should be avoided.
     With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is
 possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not
 other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure
 probability sample of 12,507 one could say with a ninety-five percent
 probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/-1.5
 percentage point. For individual countries, sampling error is +/-3
 percentage points. However that does not take other sources of error into
 account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and
 therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
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 Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest
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 Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe and
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 HISB, provides its market research industry clients with mixed-mode data
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      nwong@harrisinteractive.com
 
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SOURCE Harris Interactive