A state of happy, non-religious pessimists
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A state of happy, non-religious pessimists

How does Israel stack up religiously compared to other countries?

Not all that well.

Worldwide, according to a survey by WIN/Gallup International Association conducted in 65 countries around the world, 63 percent of people polled describe themselves as religious.

In Israel, only 30 percent identify as religious. Eight percent identify as convinced atheists; 57 percent say they are “not a religious person.”

This makes Israel less religious than Western Europe overall, where 43 percent say they are religious and 37 percent say they are not. Israel is significantly more religious than Sweden, however — there 78 percent say they are not religious or atheist.

Israel’s younger generation, according to the survey, is more religious, with 55 percent of the 18- to 24 year-olds surveyed describing themselves that way.

Meanwhile, three quarters of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza report being religious, versus 18 percent who say they are not.

The question on religion was only one of a number of questions that Gallup asks annually as part of its end-of-year survey.

The poll showed Israelis to be happy but pessimistic. Nearly half reported being either happy or very happy, against 19 percent who were either unhappy or very unhappy.

Slightly more — 33 percent — expected this year to be worse than last year, with 27 percent expecting it to be better.

Half, however, expected this year to be one of “economic difficulty,” with only 12 percent expecting “economic prosperity.” A third expected the economy to remain the same.

Similarly, half expected a year of more international discord with only 16 percent expecting a more peaceful year.

Interestingly, most Israelis disputed the idea that “Israel is ruled by the will of the people.” Fifty-three percent said they at least somewhat disagreed with the idea, against 11 percent who fully agree and 34 percent who said they partially agree.

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