Ireland still one of the most Christian states in Europe

Posted By: June 05, 2018

Most take á la carte approach to faith and opt to go without regular church attendance

Patsy McGarry. Irish Times (Belfast).Monday, June 4, 2018


Among church-going Christians in western Europe, there is strong support for legal abortion and same-sex marriage, according to research by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre.




Ireland remains one of the most Christian countries in western Europe, though church attendees are outnumbered by non-practicing believers, according to a new survey.

Four out of five Irish people identify as Christian, the highest figure across the continent apart from Portugal. One in three of us attends church, just behind Portugal (35 percent) and Italy (40 percent).

Among church-going Christians in western Europe there is substantial support – and in several countries, majority support – for legal abortion and same-sex marriage, according to the research by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre.


By the numbers


The vast majority of non-practicing Christians in western Europe – defined as people who identify as Christians but attend church services no more than a few times per year – favor legal abortion and same-sex marriage, it also found.

Non-practicing Christians are now the single largest group in western Europe, larger than all other religions combined, including Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

In every country except Italy, non-practicing Christians are more numerous than church-attending Christians (those who go to religious services at least once a month).

For Ireland, the survey found 46 percent of those surveyed were non-practicing Christians while 34 percent were Church attending. Fifteen percent were unaffiliated to any religion while a further five percent belonged to another religion or were “don’t knows.”

When it came to church attendance, Germany stood at 22 percent and Spain at 21 percent. The UK had 18 percent Christian church attendance and 55 percent non-practicing Christians.

State by state


The Pew survey involved almost 25,000 randomly selected adults across 15 countries last year.

It found many non-practicing Christians said they do not believe in God “as described in the Bible” but believe in some other higher power or spiritual force. They also tended to express more positive than negative views toward churches and religious organizations.

Overall the survey found self-identified Christians – whether they attend church or not – are more likely than religiously unaffiliated people to express negative views of immigrants, as well as of Muslims and Jews.

Non-practicing Christians were less likely than church-attending Christians to express “nationalist views.”

Highly educated Europeans were “generally more accepting of immigrants and religious minorities, and religiously unaffiliated adults tend to have more years of schooling than non-practicing Christians.”

The predominant view in all 15 countries was that religion should be kept separate from government policies (60 percent support), as opposed to the view that government should support religious values and beliefs (36 percent).

On immigration, both churchgoing and non-practicing Christians were more likely to say immigrants from the Middle East and Africa were “not honest or hardworking,” and to favor reducing immigration.