Worldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality – Richer Nations Are Exception

Survey Report

Is belief in God essential to morality?

Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. This position is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East. At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality. In the Middle East, roughly seven-in-ten or more agree in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Lebanon. Across the two regions, only in Israel does a majority think it is not necessary to believe in God to be an upright person.

Many people in Asia and Latin America also link faith and morality. For example, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and Malaysians almost unanimously think that belief in God is central to having good values. People in El Salvador, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela overwhelmingly agree. However, most Chinese take the opposite position – that it is not necessary to be a believer to be a moral person. And in Latin America, the Chileans and Argentines are divided.

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1 reply

  1. Very interesting. It seems to me that everyone is reporting on his or her biases or personal experiences, rather than a well thought out, deliberate and considered opinion.

    I do see good people coming from all faiths and lack there of.

    But, it seems to me that everyone has a human conscience, but, genuinely religious people have a deep seated view of their accountability to All Knowing God.

    I must concede though that for many people religion is only a habit, a tradition and lip service than a deeply held belief, which can influence their day to day behavior towards compassion, justice and generosity.

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