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37.5 per cent of students believe in God (and 3 per cent are Jedi)

A new survey shows that 83.5 per cent of students asked said they believe abortion should be allowed in Ireland.

A NEW SURVEY on students’ attitudes towards religion shows that 66 per cent of those surveyed don’t believe that religion makes the world a better place.

It also shows a liberal attitude towards abortion and gives an insight into the changing face of religion in Irish society.

According to the student-focused survey conducted by the Student Marketing Network, 37.5 per cent of students state that they believe in God.

When it comes to abortion, 83.5 per cent believe abortion should be allowed in Ireland.

The survey took in 1,146 third level students across the country and showed that while less than 60 per cent of respondents considered themselves Catholic, the second largest group were atheists at 20 per cent.


The researchers also drew comparisons between results from the most recent census and the survey.

In the 2011 census, 84.16 per cent of the country said they were Catholic, while of the student sample, only 57.8 per cent would claim to be Catholic.

Meanwhile, the 2011 census shows that 2.81 per cent state they are Church of Ireland and the survey shows that 2.2 per cent of students are Church of Ireland/Protestant.

When asked “Do you attend communal religious ceremonies and functions?” the highest response was ‘no’ at 61 per cent, and those who responded ‘yes’ mainly attend only 1-3 times a year.

While 61.5 per cent of the Catholic students asked if they take communion said ‘yes’, only 32.2 per cent believe that it’s the body and blood of Christ.


The top response for why students don’t follow a religion was that they ‘don’t believe in the teachings’ (77.8 per cent).

While 45.2 per cent of students follow a religion because of their parents’ influence, 40 per cent wouldn’t want their children to follow the same religion they were brought up with. Only 13.7 per cent follow a religion due to a strong faith.

In total, 41 per cent of students pray when they need something, such as good academic results or a successful job interview. Only 11.7 per cent said that they follow religious teachings in everyday life.


When asked how they would characterise their belief in God, 37.5 per cent state that they believe in God, with the top response at 41.5 per cent being unsure if there is a God.

The survey showed that 78.7 per cent of students have been negatively affected with regard to how they perceive the Catholic Church after recent scandals.

Meanwhile, 76.8 per cent of students said they think that the Catholic Church has too much power in Ireland.

When asked ‘Do religious beliefs have a place in society?’ 54 per cent of students stated that they do not believe society needs the influence of religion.

Colman Byrne, managing director of Student Marketing Network and and former president of the Union of Students Ireland, said the survey “certainly shows that there is a major disconnect between organised religion and young people in Ireland”.

Finally, 3.4 per cent of the respondents claimed to be Jedi. May the force be with them…

Read: 40 per cent of students say abortion should be freely available in Ireland>

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