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World News

Half of Britons think religion does ‘more harm than good’ to society

by Kelly Valencia

A new survey has found half of British people view religion as “having more negative consequences for society than positive”.

The survey, conducted by the University of Birmingham and funded by the Templeton Religious Trust, explored the beliefs of religious, spiritual and non-religious people and their links to science. Over 2,000 people took part in the survey in the seven different countries surveyed: the USA, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany and Spain.

In most countries, except the USA, more people think that religion has more negative effects on society than positive ones. In the UK, half of the respondents believe this, while only 13 per cent think the same about science.

This view is stronger among those who are not religious or spiritual (68 per cent in the UK), compared to those who are (32 per cent). In the USA, opinions vary, with 40 per cent seeing positive consequences and 42 per cent seeing negative consequences of religion for society.

Dr Jake Scott, from the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life, told Premier the figures are an attempt to represent the decline of religion in the West.

“It's a good representation, I think, of the Western world where faith has declined in its public standing. But it doesn't ask questions, or it hasn't surveyed, for example, Israel, or Iran, or places where, you know, there is an established state religion. It doesn't even ask these questions in places like Poland, where there is quite an obvious connection between faith and public life.

“So I think it's an attempt to understand the declining influence of religion in the Western world. But I think it would be perhaps a stretch to assert this beyond [that]. I think [the research] raises an interesting question about people's understanding of faith in public life.”

The research, which also looked into people's opinions on theories about the origin of creation, discovered that worldwide, 'creationism' was not the majority viewpoint, even among those identifying as religious or spiritual.

In the UK, only 12 per cent of people support a creationist perspective. Globally, the highest levels of creationism were found in the USA, reaching 24 per cent n, although this figure is notably lower than reported in some other polls.

You can read more about the research here.

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