Poorest countries are the most religious

A NEW poll confirms that religious belief is a factor in poor economic progress.

Tallinn, the picturesque capital of Estonia

Tallinn, the picturesque capital of Estonia

The Gallup poll shows that Estonia, the least religious country in the world with a “believer index” of just 14 percent, became one of the world’s fast-growing economies after it gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Near neighbour Sweden is the second least religious country, with only 17 percent claiming any form of religious conviction. Other neighboring countries Denmark and Norway are among the least religious countries, including Hong Kong, Japan and France.

The US, according to this report, stands out as an exception from the religion=poverty rule. There, two-thirds of the respondents claimed that religion played a significant role in their lives.

The poll reveals that religion is most important to people in poor countries. Of the 143 countries surveyed, Egypt came top, where 100 per cent of the respondents believe that religion was an important part of their everyday lives.

This is followed by poor countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The 11 least religious countries are:

• Estonia 14 percent
• Sweden 17 percent
• Denmark 18 percent
• Norway 20 percent
• Czech Republic 21 percent
• Azerbaijan 21 percent
•  Hong Kong 22 percent
• Japan 25 percent
• France 25 per cent
• Mongolia 27 percent
• Belarus 27 percent

The 11 most religious countries are:

• Egypt 100 percent
• Bangladesh 99 percent
• Sri Lanka 98 percent
• Indonesia 98 percent
• Congo 98 percent
• Sierra Leone 98 percent
• Malawi 98 percent
• Senegal 98 percent
• Djibouti 98 percent
• Morocco 98 percent
• United Arab Emirates 98 percent

21 responses to “Poorest countries are the most religious”

  1. Michael says:

    Cause or effect?

    Estonia probably has other favourable factors beyond its rational view of the world, compared to other eastern bloc nations.

  2. FrodoSaves says:

    “The US, according to this report, stands out as an exception from the religion=poverty rule. There, two-thirds of the respondents claimed that religion played a significant role in their lives.”

    Perhaps because religion is an industry in the States, one which allows megachurch ministers a tidy income, new car, and bespoke finery.

  3. quedula says:

    This must be because superstitious beliefs decrease as the level of education increases and better education also produces greater wealth.

    Apologies if you think I’m stating the obvious.

  4. newspaniard says:

    Those of the arab death cult spend so much time praying and denouncing each other that progress in the sh*tholes where they live is nearly impossible. No wonder that they are clamouring to come to the ‘hated’ West.

  5. Shargraves says:

    you know I’m starting to have doubts about my atheism…

    I don’t mean that I think there really might be an all-powerful flying space teapot of course, but rather – I think there’s too many uneducated / poor/ religious / people on the planet for the truth to be beneficial.

    Basically I am a charitable benevolent person – I am intelligent & I work in education. I behave well because I am morally responsible, as the fact there is no god – has no bearing on my behaviour or actions.

    I think across the planet – there are a lot of scumbags out there who only keep themselves in check thru “fear of god” in a very literal sense. Low IQ and poverty being mitigating/causal circumstances – but not excuses.

    I can handle the truth – but I think some wouldn’t handle it well, or at least, they would instead contribute hugely to the misery of others thru antisocial and criminal behaviour.

    So – my thoughts today are – is it right to spread the word of rationality to people who aren’t intelligent enough to be trusted with the truth. And religion, with all its inherent stupidity, is useful in maintaining a semblance of civilised societal order in places where anarchy and violence may reign without it…

    OR is that just a patronising middle-class attitude to the developnig world?

    Have I just not woke up enough this morning?

    Are the retards on the BBC religion forum finally getting to me with their pleas to believe in nonsense…..

    Answers on a postcard please….

  6. H. Davids says:

    In Holland, where I live, there used to be a silent understanding between the rich and the clergy: “You keep them stupid and I’ll keep them poor.” Still seems to work.

  7. valdemar says:

    Hi Shargraves, I too have doubts, on the grounds that religion obviously brings genuine comfort to some of the unluckiest people in the world. However, there are plenty of atheists in Africa, Latin America, and (I daresay) in Islamic countries. These are brave people – shouldn’t we stand by them? One world, and all that.

    Does enlightenment lead to great wealth and security, or vice versa? I suspect you have to advance on a ‘broad front’, pushing rational thought and increasing people’s standard of living at the same time. One without the other seems unlikely to work. And, as the example of the Bible Belt shows, a wealthy nation that experiences great inequality (and higher rates of violence due to lousy gun control) can be prey to religious politics that make life worse for everyone.

    Or, put simply, the truth will make them all free, not just us.

  8. Rozi says:

    Right, that’s it, I’m moving to Japan! I knew there was another reason I wanted to live there (other than anime, manga, j-pop/rock/folk, films, clothes, books and the androginous yet utterly gorgeous men). Failing that, Estonia looks lovely.

    I can see where you’re coming from Shargraves, but the comfort does come at a high price. And it’s often the religious presence that causes poverty. It’s like an entire nation addicted to a drug (opium of the masses and all), yes it brings comfort, but it also brings great harm to it’s addicts. On the stupid front, I agree that there are people too stupid to get their heads around the wonders of science and who are we to tell people how to think? In the end, people’s heads are theirs and theirs alone. If you want to fill it with guff, that’s your choice, but don’t offload it onto the rest of us.

    The point is, don’t let these nutters and idiots any where near seats of power.

  9. Shargraves says:

    The “invisible policeman” aspect of god seems to serve a purpose at least.

    Obviously the idea that we can live and let live – atheists and believers of claptrap – is utopian, as the believers always seem to want to gain power and control over everyone else. (whatever happened to being meek huh? Or peaceful and merciful?)

    But the church is so obscenely dishonest its truly staggering. Compare the riches of the vatican and the heartbreaking suffering and torment in africa thru poverty and disease. IF the church *actually* wanted to alleviate suffering – it could afford birth control, aids prevention methods, medicines, schools, etc..

    Just sell off some of its works of art by michaelangelo, raphael or Bernini. That would raise more than the GDP of half the countries on the planet! Then they could give it to the poor. Like it says in that book they’re always banging on about.

    But I guess keeping people poor and needy, and offering an unprovable salvation in the “next life” keeps supply and demand high…..

    Yeah its rotten bollocks all of it.

    BUT – could they handle the truth without anarchy? Religious people practically admit that they only behave themselves under duress; the threat of hell – they imagine rape, theft and rampaging violence going on all the time without the invisible policeman and threat of eternal torture…

    I’m having one of those days……….

  10. John Riddell says:

    The Catholic Church not only knows that poverty encourages religion, it acts accordingly. “Liberation theology”, which was developed by RC clergy in South America with the aim of practising real Christianity and helping the poor to better themselves, was stamped out by Pope John Paul II. He “justified” his action by theological doubletalk, of course.

  11. Alan C. says:

    Hmm, I’m surprised that the UK isn’t in the top 11, with a Church attendance of just 6 percent.

  12. Stuart H. says:

    Can I just suggest that the question ‘does religion mean a lot to you’ tends to get a certain answer if the questioner is wearing a dog-collar and holding a gun to your head, or the means to make sure your family does or doesn’t get fed that day?

    Seriously folks, is there any consistency in the way the statistics were gathered?

  13. valdemar says:

    Shargraves, I don’t believe for a minute that the nice Methodist chap I work with would go mad and kill me if he lost his faith. Steve Cram didn’t go beserk with a rifle in a shopping mall when he stopped believing a couple of years ago. He just got on with his life – to coin a phrase.

    The more I hear the ‘invisible policeman’ argument, the more ass-backwards in sounds. I think that individuals who are already damaged tend to migrate to the barmier fringes of faith, where they continue to transgress – witness all those big-haired US evangelists with their sordid little secrets.

    As for the social order breaking down, consider the endemic violence between Christian and Muslim in Nigeria. It’s killed thousands and harmed many more. The ‘invisible policeman’ doesn’t really make people behave better, he makes them channel their worst impulses against infidels, heretics etc.

  14. Mike says:

    Alan C: It’s probably done on Census results – masses of people in Britain still call themselves “Christian”, but probably never go to church or even know anything much about the bible, or nessescarily even beleive that the earth spontaneously appeared 5000 years ago and such like.

  15. Shargraves says:

    Cheers valdemar, I am more awake now and thinking clearly. It was an uncharacteristically misguided thought process I had.

    Obviously you are talking sense. I should stop worrying and enjoy my life. :o)

    And I’ll continue needling the religidiots I encounter and writing atheist metal.

  16. Godless not gormless says:


    I agree. Just look at islam. These people want to kill and are driven/ordered to do this by their religion. In centuries past, xtians were doing the very same thing. Our morals have evolved with us and this is the reason that xtians don’t stone people to death, torture people into conversion or slaughter the opposition in case they become more powerful, like they used to do.

    I think religion brings out the worst in people but I don’t think that many of these people would be anything like as bad if they didn’t believe. Their books cause them to judge others over trivial matters and the punishments are harsh. Without this garbage in their heads I’m sure most people would ‘see the light’. Our own conscience tells us what is right or wrong and does a much better job than any religion.

    I guess it wouldn’t all be plain sailing but overall we’d definitely be much better off without religion.

    Sorry, it’s late and I’m still working. Hope that made sense!

  17. dvr says:

    Where there is no hope, faith is the last resort for survival.

  18. Christoffer M. LeC says:

    I have to say, a majority of these comments were quite closed minded. It says a lot about an individual when you cannot say pleasant things about others. Even others who you believe to be incorrect defintely are no better or worse than you.

  19. A thee ist says:

    I disagree Christoffer. Everyone has an opinion on everything and rarely is one open minded to anything. And no one is open minded to everything, especially things they disagree about.

    I don’t believe that simply stating one’s opinion means they’re closed minded. I don’t think having an opinion and stating it means one is closed off from hearing other opinions. But imagine what conviction would be if people were completely “open-minded” Its a bit idealistic, isn’t it?

    Also, you would be well mad not to include your own comment in the mix, as your seem to be pretty closed-minded, blanketly calling everyone closed minded. Maybe if you were a bit more open to others’ opinions…

  20. J Milee Qa d`Maas says:

    A thee ist, I don’t agree. I know that you do not understand what Christoffer M. LeC is saying and I was surprised to your statement, “And no one is open minded to everything, especially things they disagree about.” Because being open-minded has nothing to do with the things that you disagree about. The sharp ones know what this means.

    Well, it is okay not to believe in God as long as you know what is right and wrong. It is also okay (better) to believe in God and not be involved in religious activities, as long as you know what is good and bad. But it is best that you have it balanced… You believe in God and spare a bit of your time getting involved to religious activities.

    It is NOT okay to say bad things about God and to the people who believe in that God whom you do not believe in. It is NOT okay that you believe in God and say bad things about the ones who don’t just because they don’t.

    This shows that the “balance and fairness” that the God, whoever He is, that created everything that exists in this world, must always be present in all times, that anybody who destroys the equilibrium can never be GOOD in any way. “Faith without work is dead; work without faith is impossible.” Because faith is not all about God. It’s all about life… and all about your hopes for your lives. Good faith…I hope that everybody possesses it.

  21. J Milee Qa d`Maas says:

    I was urged to comment because the majority of comments are against religion…

    And I’m sorry for using the words “better” and “best”… It was because I do believe in God–own perspective. I still respect if you do not agree with it. I was unaware that this site was founded by a “religion critic” that this was intended as a religion critique.

    See, I am NOT an atheist, but I did not say that BEING an atheist is NOT OKAY. (winks at you)