China has the most people of any nation and also seems to have the highest percentage of people who claim no religious beliefs. Thailand is at the opposite end of the scale, with a reported 94 percent of its people claiming religious faith.
Nine Out of Ten Chinese
With 90 percent of the population identifying as atheist or not religious, China's population of non-believers dwarfs that of any other country on earth: approximately 1,300,000,000 people times 90 percent equals roughly 1,117,000,000 nonbelievers in the country. The study, presented by Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research, is based on nearly 64,000 interviews covering 65 countries.
Difficult to Assess
Experts with the Pew Institute of Studies note that China is one of the most difficult countries in which to accurately measure religious beliefs of the populace. With a combination of strong political and social pressure from the Communist party to underreport religious feelings, along with the general sensitivity in the country on the topic of religion, conditions in China generally make religious feeling difficult to gauge.
Swedes Celebrate With a Secular Edge
Europe is well represented on the list of irreligious countries. Both Sweden and the Czech Republic report that some three-quarters of their respective populations claim no religion.
With only 8 percent of Swedes reporting attendance at church services, some express surprise at the continued celebrations of Christmas and Easter, with the distinct religious themes of the two holidays. Others see no dissonance in the continued observances, noting that the commercial nature of modern celebration of the once heavily religious festivals has rendered them neutral in terms of reflecting religious faith or lack thereof.
Fifty Percent for France
The study showed that some 50 percent of French citizens are atheist or non-religious. Somewhat surprisingly for those who think of Israel as a religious state, 65 percent report being non-religious or atheist. Many experts report a high number of secular Jews in the country who observe some religious acts but remain non-religious in their beliefs.
Because of factors related to migration to the U.S., along with higher than average fertility rates and the youngest age for the average believer of any major religion in the country, Muslims are projected to increase their representation in America in coming decades. Anticipated to climb to a total of 2.1 percent of the population in 2050, up from 0.9 percent in 2010, the Muslim population is forecast to surpass the percentage of Jewish people in the U.S. in the middle years of the 21st century.
Secular Jewish Non-Believers
A Pew poll from 2013 found that some 22 percent of Jewish adults in the U.S. consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or not religious but still consider themselves Jewish. For statistical purposes, the group in this class are considered cultural or ethnic Jews but are considered unaffiliated in the religious belief study.
Among nations with strong numbers of believers, Thailand topped the list with some 94 percent of the nation's citizens reporting as religious. Following Thailand in the top of nations with people of strong belief, the rest of the top five were:
Some experts found correlation in the study between economic prosperity and religious faith in the country, with both the U.S. and China being exceptions to the general trend of less-rich nations being more religiously inclined in their populations.
Faith of All Types
As more people all around the world learn more of the various cultures and beliefs around them, they come to see the diverse connections between all creatures on earth. Despite differences in practices and observances and variances in faiths and creeds, people in general have more in common than they have things that separate them. Believers and non-believers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Wiccans, Universalists, and many others can believe their various views of faith and co-exist in harmony as well.