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Religious opinions, beliefs and attitudes

Religious beliefs in Poland

Declared religiousness
The Polish public opinion research center CBOS states that universally declared belief in God is a durable attribute of Polish society. It has remained fairly stable in (...)

Declared religiousness

The Polish public opinion research center CBOS states that universally declared belief in God is a durable attribute of Polish society. It has remained fairly stable in the recent years. Systematic research shows that, since the end of 1990s, over 90% of respondents (from 92% to 97%) describe themselves as believers, among them, 1/10th are strong believers. The proportion of people who identify themselves as partial or complete non-believers is relatively low (from 3% to 8%). It is noteworthy that since 2005, i.e. since the death of pope John Paul II, their number doubled, going from 4% to 8%. In the same period, the proportion of strong believers fell from 12% to 8%.

Source: "Changes in indicators of religiousness after John Paul II’s death", Polish Public Opinion, February 2015.
More information about this topic can be found in the CBOS report in Polish: "Changes in indicators of religiosity after the death of pope John Paul II", Polish Public Opinion, February 2015.

Belonging to religious denomination in Poland

Number  %
Total 1 510 100
Yes 1 423 94,2
No 67 4,4
No answer 8 0,5
Do not know 12 0,8

Source : 2008 European Value Survey

Religious beliefs in Poland

According to a research conducted by the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics and the Polish Central Statistical Office (GUS) in 1991 in Poland, 10% of the population declared being “deeply believing”, 80% “believing”, 6% “uncertain but attached to religious tradition”, 2% “indifferent” and 1% “unbelieving”. In 2015, the numbers did not change much for those who declared themselves “deeply believing”, but the proportion of “believing” diminished while the number of those “uncertain but attached to religious tradition”, “indifferent” and “unbelieving” grew in proportion.

Religious declarations in Poland in %

1991 2015
Deeply believing 10 10,5
Believing 79,9 69,6
Uncertain but attached to religious tradition 6 12
Indifferent 2,4 5,3
Unbelieving 1,3 2,6

Source: 1991 Polish Statistical Office, 2015 Institute for Catholic Church Statistics.

D 29 June 2016    AMichał Zawiślak AWojciech Sadłoń

Changes in religiousness

According to CBOS, privatisation of religious faith, indicated by the growing number of people rarely or never attending religious service, is also reflected by other indicators. In the period (...)

According to CBOS, privatisation of religious faith, indicated by the growing number of people rarely or never attending religious service, is also reflected by other indicators. In the period May 2005-October 2014 the proportion of people who are religious according to the Church directives decreased from 66% to 39%, while the number of believers who are religious in their own way increased from 32% to 52%.

Source: "Changes in indicators of religiousness after John Paul II’s death", Polish Public Opinion, February 2015.

D 29 June 2016    AMichał Zawiślak

Religious presence in the public sphere

The relations between the Church and the state are a topic of numerous public debates and legal analyses.
In Poland, the presence of religious symbols, Church and priests in the public sphere is (...)

The relations between the Church and the state are a topic of numerous public debates and legal analyses.
In Poland, the presence of religious symbols, Church and priests in the public sphere is strongly grounded in culture. The vast majority of Poles do not object to crucifixes in public buildings (88%), religious character of military oath (85%), religious education in school (82%), participation of the clergy in state ceremonies (80%), consecration of public space and buildings (76%) or priests on public television (74%). Even people who rarely or never attend religious service and respondents with left-wing political views do not object in their majority to the above-mentioned practices

Do you accept the following situations?
Question/response Approve Disapprove Don’t know
Crucifixes in public buildings 88% 10% 2%
Religious character of military oath of enlistment 85% 10% 5%
Religious education in schools 82% 15% 3%
Priests participating in State ceremonies 80% 16% 4%
Consecration of public places and buildings 76% 20% 4%
Priests appearing on the public television 74% 22% 4%
Church pronouncements on the moral and lifestyle issues 61% 33% 6%
Church pronouncements on parliamentary legislation process 39% 55% 6%
Priests instructing citizens on how to vote in elections 15% 82% 3%

Results from a more recent survey do not differ significantly "God’s and Caesar’s. Relations between the State and Church(es)", Polish Public Opinion 48, 2015 (full report in Polish).

Church pronouncements on moral and lifestyle issues are more controversial; however, approval prevails (61%). Moral teaching of the Church offends the majority of people who do not practice religion (52%), almost half of people who go to church incidentally (46%), as well as a significant proportion of supporters of the political left wing (45%).

The majority of respondents reject Church influence on politics: expressing views on legislation (55%), and, especially, priests giving instructions how to vote (82%). Even the most religious respondents, such as people attending service several times a week (54%) and supporters of political right wing (76%) oppose priests advising citizens on voting behaviour.
In the last 18 years, the opinions about the public presence of the Church have remained stable, in spite of some context-dependent fluctuation. However, Church pronouncements on moral issues and lifestyle have become increasingly unacceptable for the public opinion

Source: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish Public Opinion December 2013.
More information about this topic can be found in CBOS report in Polish: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish public opinion, 170, December 2013.

Presence of the cross in public space – sociological surveys

In the last 18 years, the opinions about the public presence of the Church have remained stable, in spite of some context-dependent fluctuation. However, Church pronouncements on moral issues and lifestyle have become increasingly unacceptable for the public opinion.

Source: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish Public Opinion December 2013.
More information about this topic can be found in CBOS report in Polish: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish public opinion, 170, December 2013.

Presence of the cross in the Lower Chamber (Sejm)

While nine-tenths approve of a crucifix in public buildings, its presence in Sejm is accepted by 56% of respondents.

Response Should there be a crucifix in the Lower Chamber (Sejm)?
yes 56%
no 20%
Don’ care either way 22%
Don’t know 2%

Source: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish Public Opinion December 2013.
More information about this topic can be found in CBOS report in Polish: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish public opinion, 170, December 2013.

Presence of the cross in the classrooms

While nine-tenths approve of a crucifix in public buildings, its presence in Sejm is accepted by 56% of respondents. Its acceptance in schoolrooms is slightly higher, at 62%.

Response Should there be crucifixes in the classrooms?
yes 62%
no 20%
Don’t care either way 16%
Don’t know 2%

Source: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish Public Opinion December 2013.
More information about this topic can be found in CBOS report in Polish: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish public opinion, 170, December 2013.

Presence of the crucifix in public space – violation of the freedom of non-believers

Sometimes the argument is invoked that the crucifix in public space violates the freedom of non-believers. This opinion is rejected by 60% of respondents, while one-third (33%) agree that it may indeed be the case.

Response Does putting a crucifix in the public space (e.g. in classroom) violate the freedom of the non-believers?
Yes 33%
No 60%
Don’t know 7%

Source: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish Public Opinion December 2013.
More information about this topic can be found in CBOS report in Polish: "Religion and the Church in public space", Polish public opinion, 170, December 2013.

D 29 June 2016    AMichał Zawiślak

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