Global Survey Reveals Religion a Bigger Priority Than Politics

Article excerpt

Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A first-ever worldwide poll on religious beliefs shows that religion outranks politics in importance to individuals and that people think politics, not religion, fuels violence.

Designed by the Zogby International polling firm and the University of Rochester's religion department, the survey is a rare attempt to obtain empirical data about global religious beliefs and practices.

"Religion is far more important to people than politics," said John Zogby, president of Zogby International. "Most groups acknowledge the possibilities of multiple paths to religious truth and the majority of communities surveyed do not associate religion with trouble, unrest and violence in their own countries."

What's unusual about the survey is the number - 4,388 - and breadth of the interviews, conducted from January through March this year in seven countries. Most of the interviews were conducted in person. The poll is available online at www.zogby.com.

Groups polled included Russian Orthodox Christians, South Korean Christians and Buddhists, U.S. Roman Catholics and Protestants, Indian Hindus and Muslims, Israeli Jews and Muslims, Saudi Arabian Muslims and Peruvian Catholics.

Included in the U.S. sample were self-identified born-again Christians, a third of whom said they were political liberals.

Religion is a "high priority" in the lives of more than two-thirds of the Israeli and Indian Muslims, Hindus, born-again American Christians and South Korean Christians, the poll revealed. But less than 60 percent of the Saudi Muslims, Israeli Jews, Buddhists and Russian Orthodox said religion is a priority.

The South Korean Christians polled as the most religious, and they, Muslims, Hindus and born-again Christians said they practiced their religion at least weekly. Muslims scored the highest in daily observance.

Those who practice their religion the least include the Israeli Jews, South Korean Buddhists and Orthodox.

The participants were presented with a series of goals, such as achieving economic security, spending time with family, being actively religious, being actively political, being well-educated, learning a valuable skill and traveling, and asked to rank them in order of priority. …