• Indonesian Christians
    (Photo: AP Photo / Dita Alangkara)
    Indonesian Christians pray during a protest against rising violence by Islamic hard-liners in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010. Several hundred people from the Forum for Religious Freedom Solidarity held a rally, protesting what they said was the government's inaction in dealing with the hard-liners.
By Aaron J. Leichman, Christian Post Reporter
September 1, 2010|6:20 pm

More than eight in ten adults in the world say religion is an important part of their daily lives, according to Gallup surveys conducted last year in 114 countries.

And, as past surveys have found, there remains a strong correlation between a country's socioeconomic status and the religiosity of its residents.

In the world's poorest countries – those with average per-capita incomes of $2,000 or less – the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives is 95 percent, reported Gallup on Tuesday.

In contrast, the median for the richest countries – those with average per-capita incomes over $25,000 – is 47 percent.

“Social scientists have put forth numerous possible explanations for the relationship between the religiosity of a population and its average income level,” noted Gallup editor Steve Crabtree.

“One theory is that religion plays a more functional role in the world's poorest countries, helping many residents cope with a daily struggle to provide for themselves and their families. A previous Gallup analysis supports this idea,” he added.

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In Gallup’s 2009 analysis of surveys conducted in 143 countries in the three years prior, the organization found that a relationship between religiosity and emotional well-being is stronger among those in poor countries than among those in the developed world.

In its latest report, Gallup said religion was found to be important for 95 percent of people in countries with $2,000 or less per-capita income. And for countries with per-capita income over $2,000 but less than $5,000, 92 percent of people said religion is an important part of their daily life.

After $5,000, the figures dip more, with 82 percent deeming religion as important in countries within the $5,001-12,500 group. For $12,501-25,000, 70 percent said the same. And for countries with per-capita income over $25,001, only 47 percent said religion is an important part of their daily life.

As in past surveys, however, the United States is among the rich countries that buck the trend. According to Gallup’s latest survey, 65 percent of Americans say religion is important in their daily lives. Other high-income countries more likely to stress the importance of religion include Italy, Greece, Singapore, and countries in the Persian Gulf.

The top six countries with the highest percentage of people placing importance on religion were found to be Bangladesh, Niger, Yemen, Indonesia, Malawi, and Sri Lanka – with at least 99 percent in each reporting religion as important in their daily lives.

The six countries with the lowest percentages were Estonia (16 percent), Sweden (17 percent), Denmark (19 percent), Japan (24 percent), and Hong Kong (24 percent).

Results of Gallup’s surveys are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted in 2009 with approximately 1,000 adults in each country.