Archive for the ‘Statistics’ Category

Swiss Statistics: Religion

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Between 2011-2013 state acknowledged churches have lost members (roman catholic -4,1 percent, reformed -7 percent), muslim communities are slightly growing (+1,4 percent). Jewish communities are +/- stable, the percentage of non-dominationals grew by 10 percent.

Gallup: Are you a religious person?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

7 charts that reveal the most – and the least – religious people across the world… and how it is the young who are the biggest believers:


The question “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not would you say you are: a. a religious Person, b. not a religious person, c. a convinced atheist, d. do not know/no response.” Was asked as part of the WIN/Gallup International End of Year Survey.

The End of Year Survey is an annual tradition initiated by and designed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. It is conducted every year since then. This year it was carried out by the WIN/Gallup International Association in 65 countries around the world.

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

A total of 63,898 persons were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed either face to face (31 countries; n=33862), via telephone (12 countries; n=9784) or online (22 countries; n=20356). The field work was conducted during September 2014 – December 2014. The margin of error for the survey is between 2.14 and 4.45 +3-5% at 95% confidence level.

The global average has been computed according to the share of the covered adult population of the surveyed countries.

NF: Belief and the ego-driven society

Monday, October 27th, 2014
More and more people in Switzerland are deciding on their own what to believe and what to practise. Freedom of belief puts pressure on religious communities and forces them to compete with secular leisure activities. These are the results of a study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) whose final report is now available as a book.

Sociologists of religion from Lausanne and St. Gallen have gauged the religiosity and spirituality of the inhabitants of Switzerland. Within the scope of the National Research Programme “Religions, the State and Society” (NRP 58), they have conducted the most comprehensive study of this topic to date. Based on a representative survey among 1229 persons, 73 in-depth interviews and the evaluation of various other data sources, Jörg Stolz, Judith Könemann, Mallory Schneuwly Purdie, Thomas Englberger and Michael Krüggeler have now presented their findings in a book (*) that has just been published.

Different concepts of God

In their book, the researchers subdivide the Christian religious and spiritual landscape into four basic types with very different conceptions of belief: more than half of the population (57%) keep religion at a distance, and the sociologists expect that this group will continue to grow. Only around one-fifth of the population (18%) are still regular consumers of institutional religion. Within this group, the Catholic and Protestant core congregations are dwindling, while the charismatic free churches are gaining ground. Adherents of alternative forms of religiosity have remained stable (13%), but the researchers expect that the secular group (12%) will grow much larger in the long term.

There are marked differences between the four types, for instance with regard to their understanding of concepts such as “God”. “Whereas members of free churches see God as a supernatural friend, Lord and worker of miracles, for institutional Catholics and Protestants he appears to be a mixture of father/mother figure and transcendent psychoanalyst. People with alternative beliefs mostly conceive of God as light, power, energy, while those who remain distant have no clear idea of God at all,” the researchers write in their book. The institutional believers all but unanimously (99%) share the view that God takes an interest in each individual person. However, this is something that only 2% of the secular group believe: for many of them God is nothing but an illusion.

Secular competition

All four types show a strong tendency towards individualisation. More and more people are deciding on their own what to believe and what to practice. Their choices are motivated largely by their own personal benefit and state of mind. Believers and non-believers alike are guided by their own egos in making such decisions. The religious realm is coming under increasing competitive pressure because individuals are free to choose between religious and secular offers, both of which they judge in terms of value for money. This consumerist attitude has become prevalent in Switzerland since the 1960s, say the researchers.

The main rivals are secular pastimes that can supplant religious activities. When children and teenagers play football at the weekend instead of attending Sunday school, this hampers their religious socialisation. According to the researchers, such changes can lead to a major break with tradition, particularly for Protestants and Catholics.

Heightened criticism

Finally, this rivalry also explains why religious communities are becoming increasingly reliant on church marketing activities. Nevertheless, religions are being viewed more critically and with greater detachment today than in the past, the researchers conclude. Thus 85% of the respondents were fully or largely of the opinion that, in view of current world events, “religions are more likely to result in conflicts than in peace”.
(*) J. Stolz, J. Könemann, M. Schneuwly Purdie, T. Englberger, & M. Krüggeler (2014). Religion und Spiritualität in der Ich-Gesellschaft. Vier Gestalten des (Un-)Glaubens. Zurich: TVZ/NZN.

Atheist, freethinker, agnostic … or?

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Atheist Alliance Internationalis asking people withour religion to indicate their title under:

Globally, those claiming to be religious, droped by 9% since 2005

Friday, August 10th, 2012

There is a notable decline across the globe in self-description of being religious. WIN-Gallup International had carried out exactly the same poll seven years ago in 2005. The global average of the 39 countries polled in both waves shows Religiosity Index dropped by 9% during these seven years. Most of the shift is not drifting from their faith, but claiming to be ‘not religious’ while remaining within the faith.  There is however a rise of 3% in atheism as well.
The poll was conducted by the oldest and the largest network of opinion pollsters affiliated with WIN-Gallup International in 57 countries covering more than 73% of the world’s population.
59% of the world said that they think of themselves as religious person, 23% think of themselves as not religious whereas 13% think of themselves as convinced atheists.

Claims 2012

Region religious not religious Atheist
Globale average 59% 23% 13%
Western Europe 51% 32% 14%
US 60% 30% 5%

Switzerland among the top 3

After Vietnam and Ireland Switzerland is ranking number 3 – together with France – of the four countries with a decline of religiosity of over 20% in seven years.

Religiosity higher among the poor
People in bottom income groups are 17% more religious than those in top income groups.

Switzerland: One fifth of the population has no religious affiliation

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

(FSO) – For the first time since the 2000 census, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) is publishing with the results of the Structural Survey 2010 current data on Switzerland’s religious and linguistics landscape. The annual structural survey is a core element of the new modular census, which provides a more accurate picture of today’s ever-increasing pace of social change. At the end of 2010, the Roman Catholic Church, with a share of 38.8%, was the largest religious group. Between 2000 and 2010, there was a sharp increase in the number of people without a religious affiliation, who accounted for 20.1% in 2010.

Atheism to defeat religion by 2038

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Nigel Barber, author of “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion: The triumph of earthly pleasures over pie in the sky” makes this bold statement in an article published on the Huffington Post.

(…) The notion that improving living conditions are associated with a decline in religion is supported by a mountain of evidence.

(…) The most obvious approach to estimating when the world will switch over to being majority atheist is based on economic growth. This is logical because economic development is the key factor responsible for secularization. In deriving this estimate, I used the nine most godless countries as my touchstone (excluding Estonia as a formerly communist country).

The countries were Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These nine countries averaged out at the atheist transition in 2004 with exactly half of the populations disbelieving in God. Their gross domestic product (GDP) averaged $29,822 compared to $10,855 for the average country in the world. How long will it take before the world economy has expanded sufficiently that the GDP of the average country has caught up to the average for the godless countries in 2004?

Using the average global growth rate of GDP for the past 30 years of 3.33 percent (based on International Monetary Fund data from their website), the atheist transition would occur in 2035.

Belief in God is not the only relevant measure of religion, of course. A person might believe in God in a fairly superficial way without religion affecting his or her daily life. One way of assessing the depth of religious commitment is to ask survey participants whether they think that religion is important in their daily lives as the Gallup Organization has done in worldwide nationally representative surveys.

If fewer than 50 percent of the population agreed that religion was important to them, then the country has effectively crossed over to a secular majority. The godless countries by religiosity were Spain, South Korea, Canada, Switzerland, Uruguay, Germany and France. At a growth rate of 3.33 percent per year it would be 2041 before the average country in the world would be at an equivalent level of affluence as these godless nations.

If national wealth drives secularization, the global population will cross an atheist threshold where the majority see religion as unimportant by 2041.

(…) Is the loss of religious belief something fear? Contrary to the claims of religious leaders, Godless countries are highly moral nations with an unusual level of social trust, economic equality, low crime and a high level of civic engagement.

Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2004). Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 Barber, N. (2011). A Cross-National test of the uncertainty hypothesis of religious belief Cross-Cultural Research, 45, 318-333.

Kaufmann, E. (2010). Shall the religious inherit the earth? London: Profile books.

Zuckerman, P. (2008). Society without God: What the least religious nations can tell us about contentment. New York: New York University Press.

How Christian are UK Christians? And should Government “do God”?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

A poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) in the week after the 2011 Census focused on the beliefs, attitudes and practices of UK adults who say they were recorded as Christian in the 2011 Census (or would have recorded themselves as Christian had they answered the question).

When asked why they think of themselves as Christian, the research found that fewer than three in ten (28%) say one of the reasons is that they believe in the teachings of Christianity.

People are much more likely to consider themselves to be Christian because they were christened or baptised into the religion (72%) or because their parents were members of the religion (38%) than because of personal belief.

As many as half (50%) do not think of themselves as religious and less than a third (30%) claim to have strong religious beliefs.

At the same time, many who self-identify as Christian hold beliefs that some churches would consider to be incompatible with traditional Christian teaching, such as astrology and reincarnation (27% in each case), ghosts (36%) and fate (64%).

The low level of religious belief and practice among those calling themselves Christian is reflected in church attendance. Apart from special occasions such as weddings, funerals and baptisms, half (49%) had not attended a church service in the previous 12 months. One in six (16%) have not attended for more than ten years, and a further one in eight (12%) have never attended at all.

Read the full press release at

UK Christians opposed to special influence for religion in public policy

If the section dealing with questions of religious belief and practice  revealed very low levels of both, the questions focusing on UK Christians’ attitudes to social issues, including the role of religion in public life, is even more dramatic.

It shows that most UK Christians have very little in common with the Christian lobbyists claiming to speak on their behalf. The constant calls from Christian lobby groups to deny full rights to gays, to grant Christians exemption from certain laws, to outlaw abortion, to maintain privileged access to political influence and generally to put Christianity at the heart of UK public life simply do not reflect the views and wishes of the majority of UK Christians.

On the contrary, the findings show that the majority of UK Christians share the secular, liberal, humane values that are the hallmark of a modern, decent society.

This won’t come as a surprise to most Christians reading these results,… nor to those who count liberal Christians among their friends, families and colleagues.

But it may come as a shock to certain politicians who seem to have bought into the idea that there are votes to be gained in ‘doing God’. These results show quite categorically that there are not.

From now on, whenever a clergyman, politician or religious lobbyist tries to claim that the UK is Christian and that religion should therefore have protected status in our public life, we will be able to point to these results and show that not even UK Christians support their view.

Read press release 2.


Relating data.




Why Atheism Will Replace Religion

Monday, December 20th, 2010
Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries, particularly the social democracies of Europe. In underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists. Atheism is thus a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Why do modern conditions produce atheism?

First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, a clear pattern can be discerned. In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (Zuckerman, 2007). Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.


UK: Taxpayer should not be forced to foot £12m bill for Pope’s visit

Sunday, September 5th, 2010
More than three quarters of Britons think the taxpayer should not contribute to the cost of Pope Benedict XVI’s forthcoming visit to Scotland and England, according to a survey published today.

Read more: