Religious belief makes a comeback among French youth

Have young French people reconciled with God? In any event, unlike their elders, they are at least no longer hostile to religion.

The portrait of the 18-30 age group that emerges from the exclusive survey on youth and religion carried out by OpinionWay for La Croix reveals a generation that is discernibly more religious than the generation of their parents.

Certainly, young people who say they believe in the existence of God (46%) still comprise a minority in the French community, which is mainly agnostic.

Yet when these figures are compared with earlier surveys, it appears that young people account for the largest number of believers in the French population as a whole.

Only 38% of the French population say that they believe in the existence of God, according to a survey conducted a year ago for the French Conference of Priests and Nuns (Corref).

Today’s young French people also identify more strongly with religion than their peers of a decade ago. This is true among Catholics (42%), Muslims (4%) and Protestants (3%).

In 2008, only 34% of the 18-29 age group claimed to belong to a religion, according to a Europe-wide survey on values carried out the same year, compared with 53% today.

Sister Nathalie Becquart, who is in charge of pastoral outreach to youth in the French Bishop’s Conference, views the difference as “a generational change.”

“There has been a real break with the generation of 1968 when religious practice brutally dropped,” she explains.

“However, the decline did not continue.”

The religious renewal is more shifting and diffuse and it has led to other forms of spirituality besides the traditional practice of worship.

“40% pray, 30% say the spiritual dimension is important in their lives, one in five has already taken part in a religious gathering or a pilgrimage. That is much more than going to church on Sundays,” notes Sister Nathalie Becquart. Continue reading


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