- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2020

Less than half of Americans say faith in God is needed to have good values, according to a new global survey from the Pew Research Center.

The percentage — 44% — represents the largest drop in people expressing a tie between faithfulness and morality in 34 countries surveyed by Pew over the last two decades. In 2002, 56% of U.S. citizens surveyed said a faith in God formed the basis for good behavior.

The poll, released this week, shows the U.S. joining western Europe with more than half of its populace expressing ambivalence for the idea that ethical behavior stems from faith in a higher power. Less than one-fifth of the citizens in Sweden (9%), the Czech Republic (14%), and France (15%) say morality comes from a belief in God. The highest rates were seen in Africa and the Middle East, with Kenya (95%) and Nigeria (93%) leading the way.

The U.S. was sandwiched between its North American counterparts, with more in Mexico (55%) tying a belief in God with good behavior than in Canada (26%).

“People in the emerging economies included in this survey tend to be more religious and more likely to consider religion to be important in their lives,” said the study’s authors, Christine Tamir, Aidan Connaughton and Ariana Monique Salazar. “And they are more likely than people in this survey who live in advanced economies to say that belief in God is necessary to be moral.”

Last fall, Pew found that one-fourth of Americans identify as non-religious, or not affiliated with any faith tradition. The rise in religious “nones” coincided with a double-digit drop in Americans identifying as Christians.

The survey released this week polled more than 30,000 people around the globe last year.

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