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Pew: African, Latin American Christians most committed

WASHINGTON (BP) — Commitment to prayer, church attendance and religion is highest among Christians in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, Pew Research Center said Aug. 22 in an analysis of data collected over the past 10 years.

In the U.S., Christians register comparatively high levels of religious commitment among the most developed countries, Pew said in its analysis of 84 countries with Christian populations deemed sizable. Here, 68 percent of Christians deemed religion “very important” and just as many said they pray daily. Weekly church attendance was registered among 47 percent of U.S. Christians.

In 35 of the countries studied, at least two-thirds of Christians said religion was “very important” in their lives. All but three of those 35 countries are in sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America, namely the U.S., Malaysia and the Philippines.

More than 75 percent of Christians surveyed in each country in sub-Saharan Africa said religion was very important in their lives, voicing higher levels of prayer and church attendance. In Ethiopia, where Ethiopian Orthodoxy is the most prevalent Christian faith, 98 percent of Christians rated religion as very important.

Among Latin American countries analyzed, at least 80 percent of Christians in six countries including Guatemala, Honduras the Paraguay pray daily. More than two-thirds of Christians in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador attend church weekly, Pew said.

Religion is least important to Christians in Germany, the United Kingdom and Europe, Pew said.

“These findings reflect the broader pattern of Christianity’s ‘march southward’ from wealthy countries to developing ones,” Pew said at pewresearch.org/fact-tank. “This phenomenon is particularly evident in sub-Saharan Africa, where Christianity is rapidly growing, largely due to high fertility.”

Fewer than a tenth of Christians in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and Malaysia pray daily, Pew said. In nine European countries including Denmark, Estonia and Russia, fewer than a tenth of Christians attend church weekly.

Among African nations included in the data, at least 80 percent of Christians in Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Cameroon and Chad said they pray daily. And more than 60 percent of Christians there said they attend church at least weekly.

Pew’s FactTank released the 2018 analysis based on the results of studies conducted between 2008 and 2017. According to Pew, analyzed data encompasses statistics gathered in Sub-Saharan Africa, America, Latin America, Israel, and Central, Eastern and Western Europe. The data includes a global survey of Islam and Pew’s wide-ranging religious landscape study, and contains studies of Asian Americans, Jewish Americans and Muslim Americans.

Christians in other countries rating religion as very important to them, along with the percentages Pew noted, include Ghana, 89 percent; Nigeria, 82; Colombia, 80; South Africa, 79; Ecuador, 80; Israel, 58, and Egypt, 50.

Other countries at the low end of the scale are Russia, 16; France, 12; Italy, 23; Czech Republic, 25; Poland, 32 and South Korea, 38.