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US Only Highly Developed Country Where Majority Think Belief In God Necessary To Be ‘Moral’

by David Badash on March 18, 2014

in News,Religion

America. Land of the free, home of the brave. Home of the ultra-religious.

America is the only highly developed country where a majority of citizens think you have to believe in God in order to live a moral life.

Here’s a portion of the international breakdown in response to the question, “is belief in God essential to morality?”

China: 14%
France: 15%
Spain: 19%
Australia: 23%
Britain: 20%
Italy: 27%
Canada: 31%
Germany 33%
Israel: 37%
Japan: 42%
America: 53%

(For the full results, see chart above to the right.)

The results come from a Pew Research Center international poll of people in 40 countries. An Alternet article at Salon observes:

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, the majority says it is necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person. “This position is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East,” says the report. No surprise there, but Asian and Latin countries such as Indonesia (99%), Malaysia (89%), the Philippines (99%), El Salvador (93%), and Brazil (86%) all fell in the highest percentile of respondents believing belief in a god (small G) is central to having good values.

Interestingly, clear majorities in all highly developed countries do not think belief in god to be necessary for morality, with one exception only: the U.S.A.

Last year, an Evangelical Christian pollster found that atheists commit less crimes, divorce less, and are better educated than their fellow Christians.

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Cayleb March 18, 2014 at 10:10 am

I wonder what Pew's standards for "highly developed" are if S. Korea (54%) doesn't qualify.

rickinsd March 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm

I had the same thought. Without a definition of "highly developed", the assertion made by this article is dubious at best. Does "highly developed" mean European or western? Apparently, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia don't qualify. It smells like a cultural/racial bias.
I don't believe that a belief in god is necessary to lead a moral life, but I would not use this article to support my opinion.

BJLincoln March 18, 2014 at 10:38 am

It's this "moral superiority" BS that is keeping the US back. It makes us look like hypocrites to the world and is keeping our people from excelling in education. How can we compete in science and math when half the country doesn't believe in them? If we teach our kids Bible based "science" they will fail next to any other country.

justjinxed March 18, 2014 at 11:06 am

I'm highly suspect of these "polls"; I wasn't asked. My roomate wasn't asked, no one I know of was asked.. So um, where do these numbers come from exactly?

Oh ya, a place called PewResearch Center which lists no way of becoming a member of their supposed research data. Well, isn't that just nifty.

James_M_Martin March 18, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Surprise, surprise! (Not really.)

Merv9999 March 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm

As much as some try to deny it, the reality of the situation keeps staring us back in the face: Christians in the US are extremists.

JustJinxed March 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

I'm highly suspect of these "polls" as being incredibly inaccurate. Nowhere on the website does it give information on how to become a member of this data. The few people I've asked have never been even asked this question. So where exactly does this data come from? The report on Pew Research doesn't say either.

…. Just like Gallup, full of lies.

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