From the [PEW Global Attitudes Survey].
Is Faith Necessary for Morality?What's interesting about these surveys is the difference between opinions in American and in Western Europe. Canada almost always falls somewhere between these two extremes.
Throughout most of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, there is widespread agreement that faith in God is a prerequisite for morality. For example, in all 10 African countries included in the study, at least seven-in-ten respondents agree with the statement “It is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.” In Egypt, no one in the sample of 1,000 people disagrees. Out of the 1,000 Jordanians interviewed, only one person suggests it is possible to not believe in God and still be a moral person.
In the four predominantly Muslim Asian countries – Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Malaysia – huge majorities also believe morality requires faith in God. Elsewhere in Asia, however, opinions are a bit more mixed. Majorities in Japan and China, as well as substantial minorities of Indians and South Koreans, reject the notion that believing in God is required for morality.
In Arab countries there is a strong consensus that faith is necessary, although in Lebanon there are substantial differences among the country’s three major religious communities – Shia Muslims (81% agree), Christians (65%), and Sunni Muslims (54%). In neighboring Israel, a slim majority (55%) think faith in God is not necessary for moral values.
In Europe, the consensus view is just the opposite: throughout Western and Eastern Europe, majorities say faith in God is not a precondition for morality. This is true across Europe, regardless of whether a country’s primary religious tradition is Protestant, Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. And it is true regardless of which side of the Iron Curtain a country was on.
Still, even within Europe there is some variability – Swedes, Czechs, and the French emerge as the most likely to reject the necessity of religion, while Ukrainians, Germans, and Slovaks are the least likely.
Meanwhile, in the Americas there are considerable differences among countries. While Brazilians, Venezuelans, Bolivians, and Peruvians tend to believe faith is a necessary foundation for moral values, Mexicans, Chileans, and Argentines are more divided on this issue. Only 30% of Canadians suggest morality is impossible without faith, compared to nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%).