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Paradox25's avatar

Why are Europeans less religious than Americans?

Asked by Paradox25 (10074 points ) February 8th, 2014

I guess what I’m really asking here is how did Europeans end up evolving to be something different than the Americans concerning religious belief and the importance of it? The majority of American ancestors are European, and come from the same religious roots, so how come Europeans are less religious than Americans today considering these circumstances?

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16 Answers

hearkat's avatar

On what do you base your claim that people living in Europe are less religious than people living in America (and by “America” are we to presume that you mean the USA and not the continent/s)? How is the degree of more vs. less “religious” being measured?

ucme's avatar

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, the main difference is that Americans tend to ram religion down your throat, both atheist & theist.

flutherother's avatar

We have a stronger sense of identity in Europe that comes from having a longer history and deeper roots. What Americans call being ‘religious’ often seems very primitive and strident to me and not at all what I think of as being religious.

Paradox25's avatar

Most stats that I’ve read seem to support this model, that religion and theism is much more important to Americans than western Europeans. I know the stats are from a religious site, but unless somebody can rovide me counter evidence I’ll assume that my question is very accurate.

MadMadMax's avatar

They tend to respect education more than we have. Look at the Finns.

Paradox25's avatar

@flutherother Do you mean being spiritual but not religious?

ragingloli's avatar

Superiority.

keobooks's avatar

I think Americans are on a whole more fundamentalist than Europeans. There is a book called “Stealing Jesus” that documents the fairly new fundamentalism that rose up in the united states in the early 20th century and how it’s completely changed what it means to be religious.

I don’t think that more fundamentalist means more religious. It just means you take things in the Bible more literally.

flutherother's avatar

@Paradox25 I think religion should have a contemplative spiritual aspect to it. That is my view though I am not religious myself.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Paradox25
Most stats that I’ve read seem to support this model, that religion and theism is much more important to Americans than western Europeans. I know the stats are from a religious site, but unless somebody can rovide me counter evidence I’ll assume that my question is very accurate”

Huh? The Pew Research Center isn’t religious.

jca's avatar

I think of many Europeans (Italians, Spanish, Polish) as ultra-religious, ultra Catholic.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 is quite right in the question’s premise. In study after study, compared to US stats, more people in Europe attend a house of worship rarely or never, more say that they have no particular religious faith, and more self identify as atheists.

Here’s one study, but there are plenty more.
See http://www.pewglobal.org/2011/11/17/the-american-western-european-values-gap/ and scroll down to “Religion More Important to Americans”.

In ’’Why Americans Are More Religious Than Europeans’’ Nigel Barber speculates on this very question. See what you think of his answers.

Paradox25's avatar

@ETpro Yeah, it is pretty obvious stuff, and anybody can find this info almost anywhere to support my claim. I just don’t understand how the exact same types of people started to behave differently just from living on the other side of the Atlantic.

jca's avatar

Go to Ireland – the Catholic church is everywhere.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 I don’t really know why. Perhaps being sheltered from the frequent abuses inflicted on the citizens by state-ordained religion in European states, the American people never grew as wary of religiosity. I wonder if there are any credible books exploring the question.

@jca, Anywhere the Protestants are not. The only time they share common ground is when they are fighting or blowing each other up.

Stinley's avatar

I wonder if it is more socially acceptable to be non-religious in Europe than US? Is the ‘God Bless America’ attitude just so pervasive that it means that people are less likely to say or even think that they don’t believe in a god or religion? I know that even as a Brit, I find it hard to come out and say that I’m atheist, especially around religious people.

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