A new Ipsos MORI poll has found that religion still matters to most people in the world.
The global survey looked at the views of over 18,000 people across 24 countries, including the U.K. and U.S.
Seven in 10 of those surveyed said they had a religion but there was a marked difference between Christians and Muslims when it came to the importance they placed on their faith.
In Muslim-majority countries, 94 percent of those with a religion agreed that their faith was important in their lives, compared to 66 percent in Christian-majority countries.
Muslims were far more likely to believe that their religion was the only true path to salvation, liberation or paradise – 61 percent compared to 19 percent in Christian-majority countries. In the U.S., 32 percent said their faith or religion was the only true path.
They were also more likely to say that their faith or religion was a key motivator in giving time and money to people in need – 61 percent compared to 24 percent in primarily Christian societies.
Overall, 30 percent said that their religion motivated them to give their time or money to people in need, while more than half (52 percent) said that their religion made no difference to their giving because they saw it as important in any case.
Globally, faith was found to be important to young people. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of under-35s said their religion or faith was important in their life.
“Religious faith is there in every age group. It’s not tailing off amongst younger people,” said Tony Blair, a practicing Catholic and patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, on Tuesday.
“What we found is that young people … have actually strong values and very often very strong religious faith. One of the mistakes I think we can easily make, particularly from my generation that grew up essentially with the notion that as society prospered there would be less religion, is that actually religious faith is alive and well and kicking,” he added.
Addressing globalization, Blair noted, “I think for the young people … it’s really interesting for them to have an encounter with people of different faiths. We find … that contrary to concerns of some parents – which is that by having an exchange with someone of a different faith you lose the strength of your own faith – we find exactly the opposite, that they find their own faith enriched but they also have an understanding of the other.”
A third of all respondents across the 24 countries said they had no or almost no friends or acquaintances from any religion other than their own while 31 percent said at least half of their acquaintances were of a different faith.
In other findings, 65 percent of those surveyed in the U.S. said they believe religion provides the common values and ethical foundations that diverse societies need to thrive in the 21st century.
The results were welcomed by Blair.
“This survey shows how much religion matters and that no analysis of the contemporary world, political or social, is complete without understanding the relationship between faith and globalization," he said.
“Inter-faith dialogue and action today is not just an interesting but peripheral minor subject, it is the essence, central to creating greater social cohesion and harmony.”