A student survey has uncovered some very interesting statistics regarding Irish students and their changing attitudes towards religion.

The survey has revealed that the views of 78.7% students have been negatively affected with regard to how they perceive the Catholic Church after the recent scandals were uncovered.

Abortion is an extremely sensitive and current topic, and the results of the survey show that 83.5% of the Irish students asked believe that abortion should be allowed in Ireland and 76.8% think that the Catholic Church has too much power in this country.

The survey of 1,146 third level students across the country over the last two weeks highlights how religion, and its place in society, has changed in Ireland over recent years.

Shockingly, while less than 60% of respondents considered themselves Catholic; the second group to top the scale were Atheists at 20%.

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

Another surprising statistic was that whilst 61.5% of the Catholic students who were asked if they take communion said ‘yes’, only 32.2% believe that it’s the body and blood of Christ.

When offered a number of choices for why students don’t follow a religion, the response to top the scale was that they ‘don’t believe in the teachings’ (77.8%) which soared above the choices of ‘peer pressure’ (1%) and ‘a sense of freedom.’

45.2% of students only follow a religion because of their parents influence, yet 40% of the students who took the survey wouldn’t want their children to follow the same religion they were brought up with. Only 13.7% follow a religion due to a strong faith.

Not so surprising was that 41% of students, under the stresses and strains of exams and graduating in tough economic times, only pray when they need something, such as good academic results or a successful job interview. Only 11.7% said that they follow religious teachings in everyday life.

According to the survey, students regard ‘looking good’ (5th) as being more important than ‘religious beliefs’ (6th), with friends and family topping the list of importance.

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

When the students were asked, ‘Do religious beliefs have a place in society?’ 54% stated that they do not believe society needs the influence of religion and 65.6% of the students who took part on the survey do not believe that religion makes the world a better place.
Colman Byrne, Managing Director of Student Marketing Network and oxygen.ie and former two-term president of Union of Students Ireland, said, “The survey brought up a lot of interesting information that people may have different views on but it certainly shows that there is a major disconnect between organized religion and young people in Ireland.”

Originally published in 2013.