A recent study from the Pew Research Center reveals that the majority of US adults, as well as those in other countries with advanced economies, do not believe that God is necessary for morality. The study was based on data compiled from an online survey panel of 3,581 US adults from March 21-27, 2022. Data from 16 other countries was based on nationally representative surveys from Feb. 14-June 3, 2022, with an overall total of 18,782 adults. The study focused on the percentage of respondents who agreed that belief in God was necessary in order to be moral and have good values vs. those who did not. The study looked at how important religion was to the respondents. 

Among all US adults surveyed, 65 percent believed that belief in God was unnecessary for morality, while 34 percent believed it was essential. Unsurprisingly, 88 percent of those who identified as religiously unaffiliated stated belief in God was unessential to morality. The study found that Americans who considered religion the least important in their lives were more likely to believe God was not necessary for morality, with 92 percent agreeing with this opinion. However, 51 percent of those who stated religion was important also agreed that belief in God was not essential to morality. Amongst specific denominations, Catholics (63 percent) were more likely than Protestants (49 percent) to believe God could be separated from morality. Amongst Protestants, white non-evangelicals were the group most likely to believe God was not necessary to be moral (69 percent), while black protestants were the least likely (39 percent). 

The study also found that individuals who were more left-leaning were more likely than right-leaning individuals to separate God from morality. This remained true in other countries as well. “In nearly every country where political ideology is measured, people who place themselves on the political left are more likely than those on the political right to say that belief in God is not necessary to have good values,” the report stated. There were also some noted differences based on age, with 59 percent of adults over 50 stating God wasn’t necessary, while 71 percent of adults 30-49 and 72 percent of adults 18-29 agreed. Education level also impacted an individual’s connection with God and morality, with those with college degrees or higher being more likely (76 percent) than those with high school degrees or less (58 percent) to state that God was not essential to being a moral person. 

Overall, the median of all 17 countries surveyed found that 68 percent believed God was not necessary to have good values, while 29 percent stated God was essential. Sweden had the highest number of those who believed God was not necessary (90 percent), while just 22 percent of respondents from Malaysia agreed. The new survey focused on economically advanced countries due to the lack of in-person surveying; however, in past surveys, the study has found that typically countries that are less economically advanced will place a greater emphasis on the need for God in morality than those more economically advanced.           

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