Religion is a social-cultural system that includes beliefs, morals, worldviews, and organizations. It also encompasses sanctified places and designated behaviors. Generally, religion is considered to be a positive force in the society.
Religion also has negative connotations, however. These include hypocrisy and abuse. Large-scale acts of terrorism, such as bombings and racist rallies, tend to give religion a bad name.
Several studies have measured attitudes toward religion. Most have shown that Americans, particularly college graduates, have negative views of religion. However, people under 35 are more likely to have a positive view. The most recent survey, conducted by Barna Research, surveyed a sample of U.S. adults between April and November.
Attitudes toward religion are mixed in Western Europe. In France, Portugal, Italy, and Spain, a majority of adults have a positive view of religion. But in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, a majority of adults report that religion causes harm.
A more positive attitude toward religion is observed in Italy and Austria. This is due to people’s perception that religion gives them purpose, helps them discern right from wrong, and gives them moral guidance.
Religious participants attend religious services at least once a month. Some religious participation includes public rituals and meditation. Others participate in religious institutions, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
The majority of respondents who are religious agree that religion provides them with a purpose in life. Almost all of them also believe that religion gives them a sense of moral guidance.