A majority (60%) of adults worldwide say that attending religious services regularly is not important to be a good member of society, according to a Pew Research Center report published November 16.
Of this total, 33% say this is “not at all important” and 27% say this is “not too important.” These are the highest “not important” percentages of the seven actions included in the survey.
Sweden (82%) had the highest percentage of adults say religious service attendance is not important to be a good citizen, followed by Australia (79%), Japan (75%) and Germany (74%). The remaining nations with a majority affirming this view ranged from 52% (Israel) to Spain (69%), with 53% of the U.S. saying this is not important to be a good citizen.
Of the 40% of global adults who say religious service attendance is important to be a good member of society, 24% say “somewhat important” and 16% say “very important.” This is the lowest percentage of “important” responses for the seven actions surveyed.
Malaysia (82%) had the highest percentage of adults saying religious service attendance is important to be a good citizen, followed by Singapore (63%) and Poland (57%). No other nations had a majority that said it is important, with 46% of the U.S. saying it is important.
While 16 of the 19 nations surveyed had a majority say religious service attendance is not important to be a good member of society, there were notable variations within groups in these nations.
“In South Korea, for example, Christians (23%) are more likely to say it’s very important to attend religious services than Buddhists (9%). In Singapore, Muslims (54%) prioritize attendance more than Christians (46%) or Buddhists (19%). The same general pattern is found in Malaysia, between Muslims (62%), Christians (56%) and Buddhists (26%). In Israel, Muslims also emphasize religious attendance (37%) more than Jews (23%),” the report said.
“In the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and Australia, Protestants tend to say going to services is very important to be a good member of society more than Catholics,” Pew noted. “In the U.S., Protestants further differ based on race and whether they identify as evangelicals, with white evangelicals (49%) being more likely to say attendance is very important than either non-evangelical Whites (17%) or Black Protestants (36%) (similarly detailed religious classifications were not included in most other countries).”
Of the other actions surveyed, “voting in elections” and “making choices that help reduce the effects of global climate change” were seen as most important to be a good citizen by global adults, with 91% of respondents saying both actions are very / somewhat important.
By comparison, 88% say “following current events in other countries,” 86% “following what is happening in politics in [their country],” 80% “getting a coronavirus vaccine” and 57% “joining demonstrations about issues you think are important” is very / somewhat important to being a good citizen.