Would you believe it? Number of atheists is on the rise

Two thirds of people worldwide still claim to be religious, while the other third are either not religious or convinced atheists.

Research by WIN/Gallup International found that more than six out of 10 (63%) citizens say they are religious, while one in five (22%) say they are not and one in 10 (11%) consider themselves convinced atheists.

In Africa and the Middle East, more than eight out of 10 people (86% and 82%, respectively) describe themselves as religious followed by seven out of 10 in Eastern Europe and the US (71% and 66%, respectively). Six out of 10 people in Asia say they are religious.

Thailand is the most religious country in the world (94%), followed by Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, and Morocco (all circa 93%).

Western Europe (51%) and Oceania (49%) are the only regions where approximately half of the population say they are either not religious or convinced atheist.

The least religious country on the planet is China with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and Spain (20%). The Swedes prove to be the least religious people in the Western world with 78% saying they are either not religious or convinced atheists.

Just 30% of Britons consider themselves religious, compared to 70% of Russians and 56% of Americans.

People aged under 34 and those without an education tend to be more religious. Religious people are a majority in all educational levels.

Between 1991 and 2011, the numbers of atheists, agnostics, and those with no religion in Ireland increased more than four-fold to 277,237.

This group included 14,769 children of primary school age and 14,478 of secondary school age. There were 4,690 children aged under one who had no religion.

The largest proportionate increase was in atheism, from 320 to 3,905.

The president of WIN/Gallup International Association Jean-Marc Leger said the result shows that religion still plays a central role in most people’s lives.

“Furthermore, with the trend of an increasingly religious youth globally, we can assume that the number of people who consider themselves religious will only continue to increase,” he said.

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