A majority of citizens in Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy think religion is a source more of conflict than of peace, a survey has found.

Driving the news

The Foundation of the Spanish bank BBVA presented in Madrid this week its 2019 International Values Study.

The survey of 1,500 adults in the five European countries also found that a majority of citizens considers that religion today doesn’t offer answers to the important questions in people’s lives.

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A majority of the citizens surveyed by the BBVA Foundation disagreed with the idea that society would be better off if more attention were paid to religious values and teachings.

That was with the exception of Italians, who were more inclined to focus on the perceived benefits of faith to society.

A minority of citizens reported believing that to be ethical in life it is necessary to be religious.

The BBVA study found that 50% of the citizens surveyed believe in a God or a higher power.

That percentage increased to 60% among Spaniards and to 72% among Italians, but decreased to 49% among Germans, to 48% among the British and to 32% among French people.

But despite that widespread belief in God, survey respondents only gave themselves an average of 4.1/10 on a scale of their religious practice, out of a maximum of 10.

An average of 56% of those surveyed, including those who define themselves as religious, said they never pray.

Survey respondents said the greatest contributions Christianity – whether Catholic or Protestant – has made to society have been in the fields of art, the protection of society’s weakest members and ethics.

On the other hand, a minority of people think Christianity has helped in the progress of democracy and environmental protection, or in the promotion of science.

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Why it matters

The BBVA Foundation also asked Europeans for their opinions on hot-button social issues such as euthanasia, abortion, same-sex marriage and surrogacy.

A majority of citizens in all countries surveyed said they approve of euthanasia when the patient is suffering from a terminal illness.

Most also said they also approve of abortion, but not to the same extent that they support assisted suicide.

The bulk of respondents – with the exception of Italy – also said they support same-sex marriage.

On the question of surrogacy, Italians again had different opinions to their European counterparts, with a majority expressing their disapproval of the practice.

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