Only 46% think religion is good for the country

Fewer than half the public believe religion is a good thing for the country, with younger people in particular failing to be impressed.

The finding, from an international survey, shows just 46% of Irish people believe religion plays a positive role in the country compared with a global figure of 59%.

However, religion is held in higher regard here than among our near neighbours, as just 36% of respondents in Western Europe agreed that religion had a positive role to play.

The survey was carried out by international pollsters WIN/Gallup, who interviewed almost 67,000 people of different religious beliefs in 65 countries in all five continents to gauge opinion in the run-up to Easter.

Western Europe was by far the most negative region, with 32% saying religion played a negative role in their country, 26% saying it played no role, and 6% saying they did not know.

Denmark was the least favourably disposed towards religion, followed by Belgium, France, and Spain, while Iceland and Portugal had the most positive responses.

These findings are in marked contrast to those from Eastern Europe, where the responses were 54% positive. The region with the most positive responses was Africa at 76%, followed by the Middle East and North Africa at 71%, the Americas at 68%, and Asia at 60%.

In Ireland, 36% said religion was a negative influence on the country, 11% said it had no role to play, and 8% did not know.

The over-65s were most favourably disposed, giving a 70% positive rating.

Globally, Muslims and Protestants were most positive about the influence of their religion, while Hindus and people of no religious beliefs were the least positive.

The poll also showed that the more highly educated people are, the less highly they think of religion. Other findings were that no German respondent said they did not know what they thought about the subject while in Japan 44% did not know.

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