Religion and Morality: International Views and the American Difference
Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.
In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.
In North America and Europe, more people agree that it is possible to be non-religious and still be an upright person. At least half in nearly every country surveyed take this view, including roughly eight-in-ten or more in France, Spain, the Czech Republic and Britain. In these two regions, Americans are unique – 53% say belief in God is necessary to be moral.
These are among the main findings of Pew Research Center surveys conducted among 40,080 people in 40 countries between 2011 and 2013 (see “Survey Methods” for more details). The survey also finds that publics in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in God to have good values than people in poorer countries do. Two countries, however, stand out as clear exceptions to this pattern: the U.S. and China. Americans are much more likely than their economic counterparts to say belief in God is essential to morality, while the Chinese are much less likely to do so.