eurel     Sociological and legal data on religions in Europe and beyond
You are here : Home » France » Social and religious data » Religious opinions, beliefs and attitudes » The contents of religious beliefs are also changing

The contents of religious beliefs are also changing

The European Value Survey asked an explicit question on atheism in its three surveys conducted in 1981, 1990 and 1999. In 1999, 14% of the respondents claim to be "convinced atheists" while 35% assert that they do not believe in God and 42.5% have no religious affiliations. Separation with religion does not always mean abandonment of beliefs. Thus, 34% of the French believe, for example, in life after death.

Are you...

1981 1990 1999
Religious 51.4 48.1 44.4
Not religious 31.4 36.1 36.6
A convinced atheist 9.7 10.6 14.2
Do not know 7.5 5.2 3.4
Do not answer 0 0 1.4
Total 1200 (100%) 1002 (100%) 1615 (100%)

Do you believe in God ?

1981 1990 1999
No 29.1 35.1 35.1
Yes 61.8 57.1 56.1
Do not know 9.0 7.8 7.1
Do not answer 0 0 1.7
Total 1200 (100%) 1002 (100%) 1615 (100%)

Using the European Value Survey, Pierre Bréchon noted already in 1999 a change in the image of God. In France, nowadays, there is 31% of the population who hold that the term "God" evokes the concept of "some spirit or vital force" more than the Christian representation of a "personal God" (21%).

Source: Pierre Bréchon, "Les attitudes religieuses en France: quelles recompositions en cours?", Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions, 109, January-March 2000.

This change of beliefs can also be noted in the portrait of Catholics which reveals the alienation from the Christian teachings. Out of 52% of Catholics who believe in the existence of God, there is indeed 79% who claim that God is some force, some energy or some spirit and only 18% who hold that he is a God with whom they can have a personal relationship. This is, however, the statement that corresponds more to a Christian affirmation. This confirms the withdrawal of Catholics from the fundamental beliefs of their faith.
In the same way, there are only 58% who believe in the resurrection of Christ and 37% who believe in the Trinity. Only one third of them know the meaning of the feast of Pentecost. Lastly, according to a TNS-Sofres survey for the Pèlerin magazine in October 2008, "Les Français et l’Apocalypse", 75% of the respondents claim not to believe in apocalypse (the end of the world), when 22% say they do. The signs of the coming of apocalypse would be, first, "global warming and climate deregulation" (55% of respondents), "international terrorism" (22%), then "hunger riots" (18%).

D 25 September 2012    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

Follow us:
© 2002-2024 eurel - Contact