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Opinions religieuses en 1998

Based on the 1998 ISSP survey, the profile of the population in the Republic of Cyprus is as follows. The overwhelming majority (98% approximately) are Greek Orthodox Christians, who follow their parents’ religion and have a nearly negligible rate of intermarriage with people of other denominations and rites.

In general, Cypriots showed confidence to the Church and religious organizations. In the 1998 ISSP survey, only a minority of the public (24.8%) expressed very little or no confidence to Churches or religious organizations. However, a considerable segment of the public (32.4%) expressed only some confidence, while those expressing complete confidence amounted to only 13.4%. The overwhelming majority of Cypriots (82.4%) also felt that religious leaders should not attempt to influence government decision-making. However, the public also appeared to reject the view that Cyprus would be better off if religion was less influential. Only 31.8% of the public expressed strong or mild endorsement of this view. But the majority of the public did not endorse strongly either side and only small minorities advocated strong views (that is, 7.3% strongly agreed and 8.2% strongly disagreed with the statement).

Given the history of ethnic conflict in the island it is not surprising that 60.9% of Cypriots agreed that religions bring more conflict than peace in the world – with a mere 1.9% expressing strong disagreement with such a statement. In contrast, the public was divided with regard to whether strong religious beliefs lead to intolerance toward others. While 43.2% of the public agreed that this is so, 31.3% expressed their strong or mild disagreement with such a view and 25.6% remained neutral.

The 1998 ISSP offered the opportunity to evaluate the different expressions of individual religiosity. See the table below.

TABLE 1. Extent of belief in God

QUESTION 19:Please indicate which statement below comes closest to expressing what you believe about God REPONSES (%)
I don’t believe in God 1.6
I don’t know whether there is a God and I don’t believe there is any way to find out 2.8
I don’t believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a Higher Power of some kind 5.1
I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at others 5.7
While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God 17.8
I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it 65

Source : ISSP : Religion II (1998).

From the data, it is observed that while small minorities of atheists (1.6%), agnostics (2.8%) and people with a general spiritual orientation (5.1%) exist, the strong majority (83.8%) declared they believe in God. When probed deeper, the overwhelming majority (92.9%) declared that they believe in God now and always had, thereby suggesting the absence of strong shifts on religiosity in the course of their lives. The overwhelming majority (85.5%) also explicitly denied the existence of a turning point in their lives, which might have led to a renewed personal commitment to God.

While 22.3% reported they prayed on a daily basis, others prayed at least once a week (9.9%), weekly or at least several times per month (22.9%), once a month to several times per year (22.1%), about once or twice per year or even less than that (12%) and lastly, there were those who never did so (10.8%). But while individuals prayed regularly, their participation in church activities (other than attending services) was low with 63.7% of the respondents in the 1998 ISSP survey never doing so and only 0.8% attending such activities nearly every week or more frequently.

The majority also considered themselves to be somewhat religious (47.0%) or very religious (29.3%) with only a minority (4.4%) admitting to being very religious. In contrast, only 4% declared itself to be non-religious. Furthermore, a reported 46% of the public considered that basic truths exist in many religions while 49% expressed the view that truth exists only in one religion. A mere 5% expressed the view that there is very little truth in any religion. The majority of the public also believed in life after death, with only 19.8% expressing definite or possible doubts over the existence of afterlife.

D 12 septembre 2012   

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