According to Pew Research Center (2017), Western Europeans surveyed from 15 different countries believe that churches and other religious institutions have a positive role in their societies.
They believe that they “play an important role in helping the poor and needy” and that they “bring people together and strengthen community bonds.” And in several countries surveyed, roughly half or more of respondents say they agree churches and other religious organizations “protect and strengthen morality in society.”
The survey also asked whether people agree with three negative statements about churches and other religious institutions. The study finds that more respondents agree with the positive statements than with the negative ones. For example, fewer than half of Germans say churches focus too much on rules (42%), are too concerned with money and power (39%), or are too involved with politics (34%).
An average of 62% of all people surveyed believe religious institutions play an important role in helping the poor and needy: Finland (86%), Spain (81%), and Sweden (81%) top the list with the United Kingdom (50%) and France (50%) sitting at the bottom. 61% of western Europeans believe that churches and other religious institutions bring people in their communities together (Sweden topping the list with 82% and the United Kingdom on the opposite end with 45%). Negative views of the church and other religious institutions are below 50% according to those surveyed: less than half of Western Europeans believe that the church and other religious institutions focus too much on rules (48%), are too concerned with money and power (45%), and are too involved with politics (39%).
Despite this, a clear consensus across most of the countries surveyed say that religion should be kept separate from government policies. This is more common with young adults (under 35) and college graduates when compared to older people.
I will say that one of the things that I miss the most about attending a church regularly is the sense of community of (mostly) good people that are sincerely willing and able to help the needy, the poor, and especially fellow churchgoers. I haven’t found that sense of community replicated anywhere else (yet?). Reporting from Detroit here.
That’s good to hear. I think many Americans will have similar views. This reminds me of Emile Durkheim’s view of religion being an “eminently social” reality: https://jamesbishopblog.com/2019/05/11/emile-durkheim-religion-as-an-eminently-social-reality/