Religio et Patria: Maltese in top five ‘most religious’ in Europe

The Maltese rank fifth in the EU in attributing importance to religion in their lives

The Maltese rank fifth in the EU in attributing importance to religion in their lives and are the seventh most likely in the EU to define themselves on the basis of nationality (80%).

A Eurobarometer held in all member states asked respondents how important religion is for them on a scale of 0 to 10, amongst other questions related to identity.

The survey shows that religion is not important at all for 9% of Maltese respondents, compared to 19% of all Europeans. On the other hand, religion is of maximum importance for 22% of the Maltese compared to just 11% in all 26 member states.

Religion was said to be “important” for 58% of Maltese compared to 36% of all EU respondents; on the other hand, religion was not important for 20% of the Maltese, compared to 36% of all Europeans.

Ranking fifth among all EU states in attributing importance to religion in their lives, Malta was surpassed by majority Orthodox Christianity countries, namely Cyprus (80%), Romania (73%), Greece (72%) and Bulgaria (60%). The Maltese ranked just before the Poles (54%) and Croatians (53%), two other countries with a strong and influential Catholic Church. In Ireland, another country with a historically strong Catholic church but experienced radical change in civil liberties like Malta, only 36% give importance to religion while 43% say it is not important in their life.

People in Sweden, Luxembourg and Denmark were the least religious in Europe.

Across the EU respondents who experience financial difficulties are also more likely (42%) to value religion morethan those who never have difficulties paying bills (32%).  Similarly, respondents self-identifying as left wing politically were less likely (27%) than centrists (35%), or right-wingers (49%) to value creed. Respondents satisfied with their lives were less likely (35%) to value religion than those who don’t (40%).

But while Malta ranks high among EU countries which value religion, the Maltese are more likely to identify with nationality (80%) than with religion (65%). But then the Maltese are more likely (65%) than Europeans (53%) to identify themselves with their religion.

Overall EU respondents identifiying as left-wing (67%) and centrists (73%) were less likely to identify with nationality than those on the right (80%). Among those for whom religion is important, 80% identify with their nationality compared to 64% for whom religion is not important.

The survey also shows that the percentage of Maltese who feel their identity is under threat (26%) is five points higher than in all EU countries. Malta ranked below Austria (27%), Greece (31%), and Cyprus (33%).

The Maltese are also less likely to think of themselves as ‘caring for nature’; (66% vs 71% in the EU) and to give importance to taking their own decisions in life (69% vs 78%). Only 13% of EU respondents and 11% of Maltese think possession of outward signs of wealth is an important part of their identity.

Despite giving importance to religion and nationality, only 43% of Maltese (compared to 53% of all EU respondents) think that maintaining traditional values and ways of thinking is a key part of their identity.