Religion and Spirituality in Europe


Religion is a social-cultural system consisting of a belief system, worldviews, texts, morals, and organizations. Its purpose is to bring together people and facilitate spirituality. Religious behavior involves outward expressions of reverence and rituals.

Despite its reputation, religion has positive and negative elements. There are many different groups that are religious and non-religious. In general, people who consider themselves religious are more likely to say that they are guided by a higher power.

The main difference between religion and spirituality is that religion has a more thought-based approach. Spirituality is more about the individual’s beliefs and behaviors. Often, people who are unaffiliated with a religion tend to have more positive views.

Regardless of their belief, the majority of respondents who are religious agree that religion gives them purpose and moral guidance. A significant number also believe that religion helps them to choose right from wrong.

Europeans who consider themselves neither religious nor spiritual often disagree about whether religion is good or bad. For example, some people believe that religion has a negative impact on society. Others believe that it does not do much harm. However, most people who are not religious do not believe in a higher power.

In Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark, attitudes toward religion are on balance positive. More than half of adults in these countries express positive views of religion. This is compared with a high level of ambivalence in Scandinavia and Western Europe.

Religious participants engage in religious institutions, such as churches, at least once a month. These include collective prayer, religious services, and individual meditation.