A new Pew Research survey of global attitudes on religion finds that a great number of people around the world think a belief in God is vital to leading a moral life.
The survey of people in 40 countries found that majorities in 22 countries believed that having God in one’s life was essential to being a moral person. Majorities in all five African countries surveyed, as well as every Middle Eastern country except Israel, believed God is vital to a person’s morality.
The reaction was mixed in other parts of the world. While majorities in most countries in Latin America and in the Asia/Pacific region believed God necessary for a moral life, no European country surveyed had a majority saying the same. The United States registered a slight majority believing God was necessary to be an moral person, while Canada registered a strong majority in the opposite direction.
Opinions broke down along largely economic lines. The higher a country’s GDP, the less likely its citizens were to believe God necessary for a moral life. The exceptions were the United States 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,” the report says.
Pew's survey included telephone and face-to-face interviews of 40,080 people from 2011 to 2014.