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Religious opinions, beliefs and attitudes

Religious belief

Data on religious beliefs is mainly from the European Social Survey (ESS) and the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Note that breakdowns for groups other than Catholics (who are the vast majority) are not normally available. Data for Catholics, is published and updated on the research section of the website of Catholic Bishops Conference and to which readers may refer for more information.

Table: % Catholics by type of belief in God, ISSP survey 2008

Type of belief in God %
I know God really exists and have no doubts about it 45.8
While I have doubts, feel that I do believe in God 24.5
I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at others 13.5
Don’t believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a Higher Power 9.2
Don’t know whether there is a God, don’t believe there is a w ay to find out 4.3
I don’t believe in God 2.7
All 100

Source: “ Practice and Belief among Catholics in the Republic of Ireland : A summary of data from the ESS Round 4(2009/10) and the ISSP III (2008/9)” by Eoin O’Mahony, Council for Research & Development (Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, 2011, data from figure 12, page 18).

Level of religious belief over time, 1981, 1990, 1999 , 2008

% % % %
In God 95 96 96 92
Life after death 76 78 80 82
Heaven 84 85 86 87
Hell 55 50 54 58
Sin 86 84 86 -

Source : 1981 & 1990 from Hornsby-Smith and Whelan,‘Religious and Moral Values’ in C. T. Whelan (ed.) Values and Social Change in Ireland, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1994, based on European Values Surveys (EVS); 1999 reproduced from Cassidy (ed), Measuring Ireland: Discerning Values and Beliefs, Dublin: Veritas, 2002, from the 1999 EVS; 2008 from ISSP on RC only in E O’Mahony “ Practice and Belief among Catholics in the Republic of Ireland’ 2011, table 10, p. 19.

D 21 September 2012    ARichard O’Leary

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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