The Church loses ground: there are fewer Catholic believers and people “without religion” and evangelicals advance


In its second edition, a comprehensive national survey conducted by a group of scientists from Conicet revealed the profound changes in religious beliefs, practices and attitudes in Argentina that involves from euthanasia, the drugs and trust in institutions. The main finding is the sensitive fall of the catholic religion: the believers to the cult of Pope Francis passed from 76.5 to 62.9 percent of the sample in just 11 years. The data contrasts with the increase in people “without religion”, Which increased from 11.3 to 18.9 percent; and of the evangelicals, which grew in adherents from 9 to 15.3 percent.

Associated with beliefs, the report highlights that doubled those who believe that abortion is a right, the death penalty is supported by 50% of those consulted and the 70% believe that it is necessary that the State apply stricter immigration controls.

The "Second National Survey on Beliefs and Religious Attitudes in Argentina" was prepared on a representative sample of country level of 2,421 cases during the months of August and September 2019. The work was in charge of "Society, Culture and Religion Area, from Ceil-Piette del Conicet, and financed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of the Nation.

The group of scholars led by the director of Sociology Fortunato Mallimaci, and the researchers Veronica Gimenez Beliveau and Juan Cruz Esquivel, considered that Catholicism conserves the country a “Dimmed majority”, Although progressively loses ground. On the other hand, 2 out of 10 inhabitants in the country define themselves "without religion", the main feature being this feature among young people from 19 to 29 years old, which reaches the 24.7%. This does not mean that there is still a significant religiousness among Argentines: believers embrace a kind of “religious self-account”Where you stop attending temples.

"The survey reveals that belief in God is 80 percent, while we are in a context of disbelief in institutions in general, from which religious organizations are not exempt. ” “In this sense, that could explain why 60% of believers recognize that their relationship with God they manage on their own and 30% through temple attendance, ”said Mallimaci.

Religious attitudes have some correlation according to the demography of the country. On the one hand, women are those who identify with some creed, while in men there is a majority "without religion." In addition, the higher level of education tends to impact a lesser belief towards God or some institutionalized deity, in contrast to people "without studies" or with primary, who tend to advance among the evangelical creed.

In the different regions of the country substantive differences are observed. For example, in northwestern Argentina, it is characterized as the most Catholic region, where the national average is exceeded by more than 10 points with 76% of adherents. Meanwhile, in the city of Buenos Aires and the metropolitan area next to Patagonia, this registry falls to 51% of Catholic people, and where a number of “non-religious” inhabitants of the order of 26.2 percent and 24 are perceived , 3 percent, respectively.

In all districts the proportion of Catholic people fell more than 10 points, and instead, evangelicals were positioned with greater presence. Since 2008, this type of creed has grown substantially in the metropolitan area, from 9.1% to 15%; in northeastern Argentina from 3.2% to 23.1%; while in the northwest it went from 3.7 to 16.9 percent.

The truth is that the numbers on religiosity are increasingly distancing themselves from historical records. According to the census of 1947, the proportion of Catholics in Argentina reached 93.6%, in 1960, 90 percent and in 2008, 75.5 percent. The estimated decline covers 30 points.

Evangelicals, who oppose abortion the most

Between 2008 and 2019, the proportion of those who claim that abortion is a woman's right is doubled. 27.3% agree that "a woman should have the right to abortion whenever she decides", 18.7% consider that "it should always be prohibited." Meanwhile, a nourished majority of 51.8% affirms that it must be allowed in the grounds today allowed by law, as it is rape, that the woman's life is in danger "or" the fetus suffers a malformation. "

With regard to religion, the evangelical believers are the ones who oppose abortion the most, reaching 41.9 percent, while people without religion are those who are more in favor, with 58.4 percent. Among Catholics, however, total rejection is among the national average, around 17.2 percent.

On the other hand, the majority of the inhabitants of Argentina question patriarchal conceptions about the family and roles of women and men in the home. 61.3% of respondents accept that a gay or lesbian couple "can adopt children", while a minority, although with a significant presence (35.9%), considers that the "only valid marriage must be between man and woman"

Among religious creeds, the evangelicals they are more likely (67.5%) to adopt the patriarchal model. On the other hand, Catholic people (61%) and without religion (85.6%) appear to have higher levels of acceptance of family diversity and equal marriage.

Authoritarianism, immigration and death penalty

The vast report has several curious facts regarding issues that imply a challenge for human rights. At least Half of the population It is in favor of the death penalty, and 7 out of 10 demand stricter immigration controls.

In this dimension, the correlation on conservative or less liberal attitudes is not linear according to religious beliefs. For example, the people who ascribe to the evangelical religion are who more rejection have towards the death penalty (38.5%), below those they have no religion (43.5%) and the Catholics (55.6%).

Regarding the axis of social policies, data of political importance are also observed. In total, about 59.3% of people believe that “the plans encourage laziness" Paradoxically, almost the same proportion (54.1%) states that "the State must grant an income to those who do not have work."

Another relevant fact is the relationship that the national State must maintain with the creeds. Most people believe that religious confessions should not be financed, they reject confessional teaching in the public school and object to the exclusive support of the Catholic Church.

The institutions, in frank fall

As for institutions in general, beyond the religious, the universities they stand as the organizations that show greater trust of people. The data is consistent with those who believe that higher education should remain free for everyone, with 94.3 percent.

"We see that mostly Argentine society believes that the State should not finance religious confessions. This, together with other indicators, shows a favorable tendency towards separation between the affairs of the State and those of religions, ”explains the doctor. Juan Cruz Esquivel, another of the CONICET research directors.

Meanwhile, although the level of believers fell, the Catholic Church (5.4 points) and Pope Francis (5.3) follow him in the confidence ranking, considering a scale of 1 to 10 where “1 represents total distrust and 10 total confidence. ” The armed forces also stand out with 5.4 points in that area. With low credibility levels, the ranking of Justice (4.4), Congress (4.8), political parties (2.9) and unions (3.4) close. In the last place are the picket organizations, with 2.6 confidence.

A relevant discussion between the political leadership and Social Science scholars pointed out whether the appointment of Pope Francis as the highest authority of the Church would impact strongly on a revitalization of worship. The conclusion is that the election "did not significantly change" the religiosity of people.

"Pope Francis motivates contradictory socio-religious positions in the population, ”Says the report. In that line, 9 out of 10 Catholics declare that their belief did not increase as of the election of Pope Francis. At the same time, 27.4% recognize him as a leader who denounces injustices, 40.6% affirm that “he is indifferent”, while another 27 affirms that Jorge Bergoglio “is too involved in politics instead of dealing of the spiritual ”.

Jesus, "energy" and astrology

While secularism grows, Argentina continues to be a country with mostly Christian beliefs. 82.9% still have some devotion to Jesus Christ, 81.9% in God and 75.9% in the Holy Spirit, although the three beliefs fell with respect to 2008.

In contrast, during the same period, the number of people adhere to the existence of a “Energy" transcendental (from 64.5% to 76%) and in the astrology (from 25.3% to 33%). There is also a decline in faith in the Virgin (-16%), saints (-18%) and angels (-12%). The Devil figure keeps its figures, around 46 percent.

These types of religious practices have a correlation with the "individualization" of the creeds. That there are Catholics or evangelicals does not mean that they are full faithful, that they regularly attend Mass. That is, more and more people are moving away from temples and adopt a belief "a la carte"

With respect to that variable, 43% of people attend mass or celebrate a cult “only on special occasions”, While 29.6% do it“ never ”. The rest is distributed with a variable frequency, which can be monthly (9.6%), weekly (11%) or every day (6.2%).

Among those who relate to God “institutionally ”, the evangelicals they are the ones who mostly attend collective celebrations and attend the temple (55.3%) while Catholics only one in four believers do.

In contrast, those who link with the deity "on your own”Most people without religion are located (69.9%), followed by Catholics (65.4%) and finally there are evangelicals (35.6%).

By measuring religious practices, the survey shows that almost 60% of the population does not read the Bible or other holy book. Catholics pray and talk more with their deceased loved ones; and evangelicals are the ones who pray the most, read the Bible and listen to religious music.

In the case of those they don't profess any religion -which are divided between atheists (6%), agnostics (3.2%) and without definition (9.7%) – the religious attitudes that most frequent is praying (24.5%), talking with deceased loved ones (21.4 %) and do yoga or transcendental meditation (19%). In the belief group, the religious thoughts that weigh the most in this group are “energy” (71.6%), “luck” (55.2%), UFOs (36.8%) and life after of death (34.1%).

The legalization of marijuana and euthanasia

Another of the beliefs relieved is the opinion of the use of marijuana. According to the report, there is wide acceptance of the hallucinogen for “medicinal use,” with 51.9 percent of people consulted with a favorable opinion, regardless of the creed they profess. But nevertheless, Only 13.9% agree with its full legalization, which places it below those who support the prohibition of all drug use, which is around 23.9 percent.

As expected, people "without religion”Are those who register the highest agreement with the legalization of marijuana in all circumstances (32.2%), as a greater proportion of this group is inclined to reject any prohibition against drug intake (16.4%), although this opinion remains minority.

Finally, half of the Argentine society “I would let God's will be done”In the face of a terminal and irreversible disease. To a lesser extent they would request to end the vital process or prolong it. Taxally, only 18.8% agree to ask doctors to "end" the patient's life. Only 6.2% of evangelicals and 16.7% of Catholics are in favor of the euthanasia.

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