NEWS

How religious are Greeks?

In a European Social Survey of Europeans’ attitude to social, political and economic issues, published in January in Kathimerini, some interesting trends emerged regarding people’s religious practices. Greeks appear to be far more devout than their EU counterparts. In reply to the question: «Irrespective of your own formal religious affiliation, how religious do you think you are?» on a scale ranging from «very» (10) to «not at all» (0), nearly a quarter of Greeks polled rated themselves as being very religious. This is four times that of the European Union average for the same question (5.7 percent). As for how frequently they prayed outside of church services, 46.3 percent said they did so every day, which is more than twice the average in the EU as a whole. Again, only 4 percent said they never prayed outside church, compared to about a third of the EU population in general. Greeks also attend church services more frequently than their other European counterparts, although here the differences are not as marked, apart from those who say they never set foot inside a church – which is over a third of all Europeans, but just under 4 percent of Greeks. Nearly a third of Greeks polled say they go to church at least once a month, compared to just over 10 percent for the EU in general. Just under one in five Greeks attend a service every week, compared to 13.2 percent of Europeans as a whole. Greeks, then, are the most religious people in Europe, they pray the most often and, after the Irish, go to church the most. Swedes are at the bottom of the list with regard to prayer and second-to-last as churchgoers, just ahead of the Danes. As in the other 20 countries surveyed, women in Greece are slightly more religious than men. They also pray and go to church a little more often than their male counterparts. Differences among age groups are slight, with all groups in Greece, even the 15-22 year-olds, being slightly more religious and praying more often than their counterparts in the other European countries. (1) Manolis G. Drettakis is a former deputy speaker of Parliament, a former minister and a professor at the Athens University of Business and Economics.