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Religion Matters for Greeks, Strong Part of National Identity

October 30, 2018

With 98 percent of Greeks followers of the Orthodox religion, the country ranks fourth in Europe in populations that consider religion a key component of their national identity, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2015-17.

The survey varied a bit though from the generally accepted idea that almost every Greek is an Orthodox believer with 76 percent saying their nationality is defined by Christianity, behind only Armenia (82 percent), Georgia (81 percent) and Serbia (78 percent).

Western Europeans feel less fervor for religion with 65 percent of people in France and the United Kingdom saying religion is not an essential part of their national identity, Kathimerini said in a report on the findings.

The findings in Greece showed residents were more aligned in their philosophies with Eastern Europe where religion held a strong majority of followers, especially former Soviet Union countries.

With 92 percent of Greeks believing in God – at odds with electing atheist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA – the country was far ahead of Russia, where 75 percent said there is a deity, while only 36 percent of Swedes do.

Some 89 percent of Greeks, the highest finding in the survey, said their country had cultural superiority over all others despite a crushing 8 1/2-year long economic and austerity crisis compared to Armenia in second at 84 percent and Russia at 69 percent, far ahead of 45 percent for Germans and 36 percent for the French.

Showing a lack of religious tolerance, only 31 percent of Greeks said they would accept a Muslim as a member of their family while 35 percent would accept a Jew, the survey found.

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