Losing Their Religion: Italians’ Belief in God Falls by 7% in Less Than 5 Years

Woman Praying
Vahid Salemi/AP

The number of Italians who believe in God has declined by a remarkable seven percent in less than five years according to a new study by the Doxa consumer research group.

Italian media have highlighted the fact that despite the enduring popularity of Pope Francis, the number of real believers is in precipitous decline, especially among Catholics.

The religious survey of Italians was commissioned by the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) five years after the most recent poll of its kind and shows significant growth among those who profess no religious belief or who are no longer affiliated with any particular religious group.

Italy currently can be divided into three nearly equally sized groups by religion: practicing Catholics (34 percent), non-practicing Catholics (32.7 percent) and others — comprising unaffiliated believers (10.1 percent), atheists (9 percent), agnostics (6.3 percent), and believers in other religions (5.2 percent).

In synthesis, the number of Italians who profess belief in God has fallen to 82 percent of the population, while the number of non-believers (atheists + agnostics) has risen to 15.3 percent. Of religious believers, some two thirds (66.7 percent) are Catholic.

Compared to five years ago, Catholic believers have decreased  by 7.7 percent while atheists have grown by 3.8 percent. The typical atheist or agnostic is male, northern, and young (25.6 percent are between 15 and 34 years old), the poll revealed.

The survey, conducted on a national sample representing the Italian adult population of 15 years and older, took place between mid-January and the end of March 2019.

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