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German Study: Religion Stronger Than Ever Among Global Youth

DPA news agency (win)July 10, 2008

A worldwide survey by Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation has found religion is as strong as ever among most of the globe's young people, with Europe the main enclave where religion is on the decline.

Acolytes in Bavaria praying
Even in Germany, a majority of young people consider themselves religiousImage: AP

Releasing details Thursday, July 10, the respected social-science foundation said the findings would surprise Europeans. It said the notion that young people were less religious than their parents was a typically European perception, not a global reality.

"Young people in developing countries and Islamic states are just as religious as adults," the study's authors said. "In Morocco, about 99 percent believe in God and life after death. Among Brazilians, Turks and Nigerians, 90 percent are believers and even in Israel, Indonesia and Italy, the rate is 80 percent."

Martin Rieger, who heads the Religion Monitor, a Bertelsmann project to track faith, said: "The notion that religion continuously declines from generation to generation can be clearly disproved, even in some of the industrialized nations."

Religious Brits

The study found religious belief was stronger among young people in Britain and Israel than among their parents.

The first findings of the Bertelsmann Monitor of Religion, which will be continuously updated in future, were issued to mark World Youth Day, a Catholic youth festival being celebrated with Pope Benedict XVI in Sydney, Australia on July 20.

Globally, 85 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 are religious believers, with 44 percent defined as deeply religious in the sense that they often pray, discuss religious issues and are guided in day to day behavior by religion.

In non-religious nations such as France, Russia and Austria, daily prayer is a fixture for only 9, 8 and 7 percent of young adults respectively. The United States is quite different, with 57 percent of young adults praying daily, the survey found.