Euro opinion on Easter

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Majority of Christians in Britain and Europe not going to church over Easter


Despite Easter being the most important Christian festival, which commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, most Christians in Britain and several European countries surveyed by YouGov will not be attending church services over the Easter weekend.

According to YouGov’s latest EuroTrack poll, which tracks public opinion in Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, just under a quarter (24%) of British Christians plan to attend church services on Easter Sunday, and only 5% say they will go to church on another day around Easter.

The percentage of Christians planning to go to church around Easter is highest in Germany, at 36%, and lowest in Denmark, where only 17% of Christians say they will go to church on either Easter Sunday (8%) or another day around Easter (9%).

Written By: Harris MacLeod
continue to source article at yougov.co.uk

17 COMMENTS

  1. Amusing. And that’s a poll of CHRISTIANS. Further evidence to support the suggestion that a large percentage of people calling themselves Christian on the UK census etc are merely cultural Christians with little or no belief in the dogma.

  2. To be truthful, this poll has very little to do with religiosity, at least in Finland. As well they could have asked “Do you intend to go to an art exhibition this month”, “Do you intend to read a literary classic on summer holiday” or “Do do intend to take your children to a museum next weekend”. Visiting a church on Christmas or Easter is a respected cultural tradition, so even an atheist like me might be tempted to say “Yes, now that it is mentioned, it could be a nice cultural thing to do this holiday — instead of letting the kids just watch TV all day”.

    If they had asked after the holidays whether people actually attended church and if so, stayed for more than 10 minutes to take a peek, they would get a very different percentage. Hard to believe more than 1-2 percent of people here really went that far.

    I actually enjoy visiting churches. They are quiet, peaceful and spacious places to enjoy solitude and quality architecture. And it’s very seldom anyone talks about any silly god-stuff, they know most visitors find it uncomfortable.

    • In reply to #3 by ColdThinker:

      Hi ColdThinker,

      … this poll has very little to do with religiosity …

      I’m sorry to parade my ignorance, but I don’t see how you get to that conclusion?

      It seems to me this poll has everything to do with religiosity. Indeed, it is a mark of the religiosity of those who say they are religious, i.e. it demonstrates that the religiosity of those who answer pollsters by saying they are religious are not being accurate (and that’s putting the best possible gloss on their responses).

      … [pollsters] could have asked “Do you intend to go to an art exhibition this month”, “Do you intend to read a literary classic on summer holiday” or “Do do intend to take your children to a museum next weekend”.

      They would only be interesting questions, surely, if they also asked the non-religious as a comparison? The questions posed were of direct relevance to those asked. The pollsters asked the minority who self-identify as Christians how religious they are by asking for a measure of their religiosity.

      Visiting a church on Christmas or Easter is a respected cultural tradition, so even an atheist like me might be tempted to say “Yes, now that it is mentioned, it could be a nice cultural thing to do this holiday — instead of letting the kids just watch TV all day”.

      I sympathise, I used to fall into this trap too. Given the increased exposure of the evils of religion, and the possibility that religions are becoming more belligerent (it’s difficult to tell if evil is increasing when exposure of evil is also increasing) what is your defence? How do you justify exposing yourself, let alone children, to the immorality and depravity of a church?

      I appreciate that not all churchgoers are automatically sociopathic degenerates, my Mother is a retired priest after all. Nevertheless churches are populated by people who, at some level, adhere to a dogma that is either attached to, or is systematically, immorality.

      If they had asked after the holidays whether people actually attended church and if so, stayed for more than 10 minutes to take a peek, they would get a very different percentage. Hard to believe more than 1-2 percent of people … really went [as] far [as going to church].

      Agreed.

      I actually enjoy visiting churches.

      It takes all sorts to make a World.

      They are quiet, peaceful and spacious places to enjoy solitude and quality architecture.

      They are reminders of what can be achieved with forced labour and punitive taxes – like the Moscow underground, or the castles and barbicans of the Crusaders.

      And it’s very seldom anyone talks about any silly god-stuff, they know most visitors find it uncomfortable.

      I am extremely sceptical – particularly as we are discussing Christians at Easter. Do bears shit in the woods? Can you give us any evidence?

      Peace.

      • In reply to #7 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

        In reply to #3 by ColdThinker:

        Hi ColdThinker…

        Ok Stephen, a surprisingly heavy response from you for my few light remarks, but I suppose I better clarify my points.

        Having checked the results of the poll, I found them ridiculously high. There’s just no way I can believe that some ridiculously high number as 20% of the Finnish nominal Christians (equalling to 16% of the whole population) really go to church on Easter. Some number between 1 to 5 % might be more credible. However, the cultural idea of “intending to visit a church on Easter” is probably appealing to just this many people. But it doesn’t mean they think so for religious reasons, as in “Jesus is God and resurrected on this day”.

        I live in a country where about 80% of people are members of a Christian church, mostly Lutheran. However, a very low percentage of them would describe themselves as religious, as in believing in the Christian God. In fact, I know many people who are actually atheists and still members of the local Lutheran church at the same time. My parents are such people.

        To most people I know church and religion actually seem to have little to do with each other. Churches are pretty places to get married and buried in, they have nice acoustics for classical concerts and most importantly to my social circles, they offer a dream job for architects to show off their talent in the midst of rigid office buildings and such. Also, the countryside churches act as museums, being the most valuable objects of local history as they’re usually several centuries older than the other buildings. If you visit a Finnish country village without visiting the medieval church, you’re missing out.

        I suppose I know what you’re talking about when generally associating churches with immorality. However, I don’t share your personal animosity with religion, since I have never really had any personal bad experiences with religious people or institutions. Religion was never pushed on me, nor has my disbelief ever been frowned upon. Actually I appreciate the way how most local believers go at lengths to not appear weirdos, so they downplay their religious feelings and make a point of their faith being as much a private thing as their sex life. In my experience, even for a church thing like a wedding or a baptism, the minister asked how much god-stuff is ok for the family and usually keeps it at a minimum and centers on the message of “let’s all love and respect each other”. And I have never really witnessed any religious person being any less moral than any normal atheist.

        Nevertheless, since I do read, I’m not being an apologists for religion here. I do find religion intellectually idiotic and I do think religion has done a lot of harm historically and still does in many places around the world. That is the reason I make a point of calling myself an atheist.

        As for your demanding more evidence, come on, I’m not presenting a dissertation here. I was just commenting on this Easter poll based on my own experience of having lived almost five decades in one of the countries polled. Someone else might of course have a different experience.

        • In reply to #14 by ColdThinker:

          Hi ColdThinker…

          Ok Stephen, a surprisingly heavy response from you for my few light remarks, but I suppose I better clarify my points.

          It wasn’t meant to be heavy, though I was distressed that you labelled the original post as not being about religiosity. Passionate, perhaps, rather than heavy?

          Having checked the results of the poll, I found them ridiculously high. However, the cultural idea of “intending to visit a church on Easter” is probably appealing to just this many people. But it doesn’t mean they think so for religious reasons, as in “Jesus is God and resurrected on this day”.

          My reason for sending the story to RDFRS was because it clearly identifies that cultural factors are at work even when pollsters ask people who label themselves religious about the level of their religiosity. Easter is, supposedly, the Christians most important annual event. Yet people who call themselves Christian rarely attend a celebration where they are told it really matters – in church.

          Your reverse view is equally puzzling. Why would a none-Christian ever consider visiting a church during a religious observance? Your answer appears to confirm my view: Because they have a vague notion of cultural connection. But not only is culture a word too broad to have any real meaning, it is giving religions a free political pass by pumping up their numbers.

          I live in a country where about 80% of people are members of a Christian church, mostly Lutheran. However, a very low percentage of them would describe themselves as religious, as in believing in the Christian God.

          This is fascinating. Why on earth would anyone claim to belong to a group that has a belief system – when they don’t believe? Are 80% of Fins also card carrying members of the Communist Party, but when questioned say: “Well, I feel a historic connection and the flags and songs are really ever so nice, and that lovely Mr. Putin next door wants to bring it back – ooh I do love a bit of sentimentality, don’t you”?

          In fact, I know many people who are actually atheists and still members of the local Lutheran church at the same time. My parents are such people.

          I sympathise, my family connections are embarrassing too (joke). Seriously; to me these people just sound terminally confused.

          To most people I know church and religion actually seem to have little to do with each other. Churches are pretty places to get married and buried in, they have nice acoustics for classical concerts and most importantly to my social circles, they offer a dream job for architects to show off their talent in the midst of rigid office buildings and such.

          If it were proposed that all churches in Britain were demolished tomorrow I would be horrified too. My point, which I tried to cover by pointing out that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – is that the Beholder needs to have all the facts to make a true judgement.

          This is a major problem. We have to start recognising that religions win our support by undermining our critical thinking. Being dewy-eyed about old churches is all very well, but their beauty and our habit of using them for rites of passage mask a deeper problem and it’s time they were unmasked.

          I suppose I know what you’re talking about when generally associating churches with immorality. However, I don’t share your personal animosity with religion, since I have never really had any personal bad experiences with religious people or institutions.

          Shortly before he died, Christopher Hitchens covered this very point in a public debate:

          For hundreds and thousands of years, this kind of discussion would have been in most places impossible to have [or we] would have been having it at the risk of our lives. Religion now comes to us in this smiling-face, ingratiating way, because it’s had to give so much ground, and because we know so much more. But you’ve no right to forget the way it behaved when it was strong, and when it really did believe that it had God on its side.

          I can put it no better.

          Religion was never pushed on me …

          Lucky you.

          Nevertheless, since I do read, I’m not being an apologists for religion here. I do find religion intellectually idiotic and I do think religion has done a lot of harm historically and still does in many places around the world. That is the reason I make a point of calling myself an atheist.

          Then it’s time to question the validity of ‘cultural’ religion. It’s time to stop giving the religious the benefit of the doubt. It’s time to bring clarity to our politics.

          Peace.

    • In reply to #5 by jel:

      We had a “church’s together” parade on easter sunday, out of a population of circa 30,000, about 170 turned out. Not looking good for religion.

      How many of them turned up just so they could laugh at the others?

    • Well we all know Football is a religion practiced around the world.. jcw
      In reply to #8 by Alan4discussion:

      Majority of Christians in Britain and Europe not going to church over Easter.

      Perhaps they should have polled: “How many were going to watch football matches over Easter?

  3. When I found this story I was struck by how well it illustrates what the RDFRS has been saying for some time.

    People answer questions in polls that ask if they are religious by thinking about vague feelings of attachment to historic cultural influences.

    Culture is a slippery label – highly dependent on interpretation. Even when we talk of cultural influence are we all discussing the same thing – it seems to me that we’re not. Many politicians clearly use the word culture to mean something that informs active everyday lives.

    This poll clearly demonstrates that if religious cultural influence is measured by the religiosity of those who self-identify as religious the actual influence that religion has is tiny.

    Historical influence is, if anything, even shiftier. While it’s clearly true that England’s Magna Carta influenced the drafters of the international declaration of human rights, King John would not recognise it in it’s ultimate form. Did the Babylonians and Egyptians have no moral code before the ten commandments were published? Religion’s influence on the historical developments is often over-stated and, lest we forget, the religious invented ‘spin’.

    Religion’s influence, in fact, appears to be so small that we should treat the claims of politicians (a characterisation which includes religious leaders like priests, rabbis and imams) with extreme scepticism – particularly when they claim that any country is ‘based on’ a religion or that any religions involvement in the history of that country is relevant – it clearly isn’t.

    The RDFRS poll was restricted to Britain. This poll covers a representative sample of Western Europe – which means it must be relevant to some degree far beyond the borders of that sub-continent.

    Given that all seven countries polled are also known to honour free speech the results may also highlight the level of oppression inherent in any country that leans towards theocracy. How many people would feel free enough to answer such a poll honestly in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nigeria, or even the United States?

    So next time you hear any politician, anywhere in the World, claiming that a religion has special influence because there are many believers and followers – treat that comment with the scorn it deserves.

    Peace.

  4. Cold Thinker (Comment 3) said “I actually enjoy visiting churches….’ I can see this point. Between the suburb where I work and the suburb where I live is the Bahai temple, the only one in North America, I am told. I had driven past it daily for 10 years without stopping, although the immense building and grounds are beautiful from the outside. One time I had had a difficult day at work, and I knew my odious mother-in-law had just arrived in town to stay with us for a week. I was in a bad mood. I stopped on the way home and went into the temple. It was, just as in Cold Thinker’s words, “quiet, peaceful and spacious with quality architecture.” (No services going on–had there been, I would have done an immediate 180 out the door.) But I sat down and and then looked around for about 10 minutes. It settled me down nicely, and when I left, I felt a lot better about the world in general and the old lady in particular.

  5. Easter was originally a pagan festival, held on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox; a celebration of the coming of summer.

    Why can’t organized religions create their own ceremonies?

    I mean, come on, crucified on Friday but back from the dead in time for work on Monday?

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