Israel Among the Least Religious Countries in the World

February 16, 2019 in News by RBN Staff


Source: Haaretz

Only 30% of Israelis say they are religious, survey finds; Thailand is most religious country in the world and China is the least.

An Israeli family in Ashdod celebrating Mimouna, the Moroccan Jewish festival marking the end of Passover, April 11, 2015. Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

Israel is located in one of the most religious regions in the world, but Israelis have little faith, according to a recent WIN/Gallup poll that took the religious pulse of 65 countries.

Less than one-third of Israelis say they are religious, which is well below the norm in western Europe. It is however about equal with the level of religiosity in England and Scandinavia, the poll found, which are among the least religious areas in the world.

Around the globe, 63 percent of people polled say they are religious. Overall, the young tend to be the most religious (albeit by a narrow margin) – as are the least educated and the poorest, the poll found. Sixty-six percent of the world’s people under 34 are religious, compared with 60 percent of others.

Only six percent of people with low incomes describe themselves as convinced atheists worldwide, compared with one-quarter of those with high incomes. Housewives are most likely to be religious, the Independent reported, followed by retirees and students.

“Religion continues to dominate our everyday lives and we see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high,” stated Jean-Marc Leger, president of the WIN/Gallup International Association. “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.”

O ye of little faith in Israel

In the Middle East and North Africa, 82 percent of people consider themselves religious and in Thailand 94 percent say they’re religious, the poll found. In Israel, though, that global proportion is reversed, with just 30 percent saying they are religious and 65 percent saying they are either not religious or convinced atheists (the proportion of self-identified atheists is just 8 percent however).

Also among the profoundly irreligious are communist China, where 61 percent of people say they are convinced atheists, and Japan, where only 13 percent profess to believe and 31 percent proclaim to be avowed atheists.

The population in the West Bank and Gaza comes closer to the regional average, with 75 percent saying they are religious and 18 percent saying they are not.
In the West, Sweden is the least religious country, with 78 percent saying they are either not religious or convinced atheists.