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Losing My Religion – Reformation To Blame?

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 21, 2012


Belief in God is slowly declining in most countries around the world, according to a new poll, but the truest of the true believers can still be found in developing countries, Orthodox and Catholic societies.

The “Beliefs about God Across Time and Countries” report, released 18 April 2012 by researchers at the University of Chicago, found the Philippines to be the country with the highest proportion of believers, where 94 per cent of Filipinos said they were strong believers who had always believed. At the opposite end, at just 13 per cent, was the former East Germany, Religion News Service reports.

“The Philippines is both developing and Catholic,” said Tom W. Smith, who directs the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. “Religion, which is mainly Catholic, is very emotionally strong there.”

The report covered data from 30 countries that participated in at least two surveys in 1991, 1998 or 2008. In 29 of the 30 countries surveyed in 2008, belief increased with age: Belief in God was highest for those ages 68 or older (43 per cent), compared to 23 per cent of those younger than 28.

While overall belief in God has decreased in most parts of the world, three countries — Israel, Russia and Slovenia — saw increases. The report said religious belief had “slowly eroded” since the 1950s in most countries of the world.

The percentage of believers in the former East Germany is lower than anywhere else. Although, the after effects of the communist society in East Germany are still being felt all over Eastern Germany more than 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the main culprit of religious illiteracy there could only be found in the Reformation of Martin Luther, and in the self-worshiping materialistic ethic of Bismarck’s Prussia.

The six states that make up former East Germany which have the highest percentage of atheists (52 percent of respondents), compared with Western part of Germany, have all originally Protestant background. In Western Germany, predominantly Catholic, only 10.3 percent of those who responded were atheists.

“Countries with high atheism (and low strong belief) tend to be ex-socialist states and countries in northwest Europe,” writes study author Tom W. Smith. “Countries with low atheism and high strong belief tend to be Catholic societies, especially in the developing world, plus the United States, Israel, and Orthodox Cyprus.”

Yet, unlike East Germany, former communist states like Russia, Slovenia or China do have a growing numbers of Christian believers. In fact, China will be the largest Christian nation of the World in a couple of years.

So, what do atheist regions like East Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark all have in common? Protestantism and Prussian way of life.


Download the full report here




2 Responses to “Losing My Religion – Reformation To Blame?”

  1. Joseph Biddulph (Pontypridd, Cymru. Proud member of St Dyfrig's Catholic Parish) said

    Blaming M. Luther for loss of faith seems too simplistic: we can cite Protestant societies (e.g. Northern Ireland) with a strong faith – also the Lutheran Reformation happened in a particular society, perhaps more bourgeois and better-off than some others. I’m not sure what a “Prussian way of life” is supposed to mean: articles in the book edited by Manfred Schlenke, Preussen: Beitraege zu einer Politischen Kultur (Rowohlt, Berlin, 1981) point out that Prussia was many different things (including, for some of the time, a big slice of Catholic Poland) and that no 18th-19th century political system could exercise the totalitarian control over minds and hearts that were found in the 20th. It would be a matter of dispute whether the Prussian provinces were more deterministic or materialistic than Mecklenburg-Strelitz or Bavaria – or late Victorian Britain. It’s too easy to blame Bismarck and, vaguely, the “Prussians”, and I’m sure the Finns, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes would be only too pleased to point out quite how “unPrussian” their national characters are perceived to be! To convince these populations that there is some value in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it might be useful to understand the historical heritage that has brought these peoples to the parlous state they are now in, and I suspect that the true causes can by no means be placed at the feet exclusively of Martin Luther and Otto von Bismarck.

  2. Dein Stadtmagazin !…

    […]Losing My Religion – Reformation To Blame? « AddisEthiopia Weblog[…]…

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