University of Rochester

University of Rochester, Zogby International Release Global Poll on Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Priorities

October 16, 2003

Note to editors: A full listing of the results released today is available online, or visit Zogby International.

Results released today from a global religion poll conducted by the University of Rochester and Zogby International offer a glimpse into the religious beliefs and practices of 11 religious groups in seven countries. The initial set of results focuses on five areas: how religion matters, sources of religious instruction and leadership, views on religious exclusivism, the association of religion with trouble and unrest, and the impact of a more religious society.

According to William Scott Green, professor of religion and dean of the college at the University of Rochester, and John Zogby, president and chief executive officer of Zogby International, the poll was conducted to discover how religions around the world converge with and diverge from one another in the realms of ideas, practices, and values.

"We are deluged with information about religion and encounter the variety of the world's religions through the media as never before. Our poll provides a framework to understand the varied roles religion plays in the lives of ordinary people across a spectrum of nations," Green said at a news conference in Washington.

"Religion clearly remains a significant force in the lives of most people, but its role varies across cultures," continued Green. "Comparing the data from religion to religion, country to country and between different religions within the same country reveals some intriguing commonalities and differences."

Among the key findings: The majority of the communities surveyed associate politics rather than religion with trouble and unrest or with violence within their own country.

A majority of all respondents, except South Korean Buddhists, say that a more religious society would help their country.

American Catholics and mainstream Protestants closely resemble one another on many measures, and are the most religiously pluralistic of the communities surveyed; Saudi Muslims and South Korean Christians are the least.

More than half of the respondents in nearly every religious group cite that being actively religious is an important value; a minority among Russian Orthodox Christians, Israeli Jews, and South Korean Buddhists hold that position.

A majority of Muslims, Hindus, American Christians, and South Korean Christians say they engage in religious practices, including worship, once a week or more.

More than 60% of American born-again Christians, American Catholics, and Korean Christians, more than 80% of Peruvian Catholics and Hindus, and over 95% of all Muslims surveyed say they will suffer negative consequences if they disobey their religion.

In all the religious communities surveyed, parents are the most important source of religious instruction within families.

A majority of respondents in all seven countries feel that a more religious society would greatly or somewhat help their country.

"Everyone claims to know religion, but the truth is that we humans know relatively little about it--our own and, especially, that of others. This seminal study is an effort to begin to fill in this gap," said Zogby.

The University of Rochester/Zogby Global Religion Poll marks the first time a university and polling firm have collaborated to obtain quantifiable data that provide a broad, global perspective on everyday religious beliefs and practices. Interviews were recently completed among members of: the Orthodox Church in Russia, Christians and Buddhists in South Korea, Roman Catholics and Protestants in the United States, Hindus and Muslims in India, Jews and Muslims in Israel, Muslims in Saudi Arabia, and Roman Catholics in Peru.

A team of religion faculty from the Department of Religion and Classics at the University of Rochester analyzed the data within their areas of expertise: Buddhism and Hinduism--Jonathan Geen; Christianity--Curt Cadorette; Judaism--William Scott Green; and Islam--Th. Emil Homerin. Kathleen Parthé, professor of Russian and director of Russian Studies, analyzed the sections on the Orthodox Church in Russia.

Methodology Zogby International conducted interviews of 600 people in India (Hindu, Muslim), Peru (Roman Catholic), Russia (Russian Orthodox), Saudi Arabia (Muslim), and South Korea (Buddhist, Christian); 593 in Israel (Jewish, Muslim, Druze); and 795 in the United States (Catholic, Protestant). All interviews in India, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea were conducted face-to-face. All interviews in Israel and the Unites States were conducted on the phone. All calls for the United States were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y. All interviews--face-to-face and telephone--were conducted from January through March 2003. The margin of error for India, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Israel is +/-4%. The margin of error for the United States is +/-3.6%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.