According to a poll by Gallup International, Ireland now ranks among the top ten atheist nations worldwide, in a huge shift from the last poll in 2005. In the six years between polls, according to the results, one in five Irish set aside religion.

The Gallup International Association poll, titled the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, asked 50,000 people in 57 countries: “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?”

In 2011, 47% of Irish respondents said they considered themselves religious, 44% not religious, and 10% convinced atheists. The global average has 59% of respondents self-identifying as religious, 23% as not religious, and 13% as convinced atheists.

When the same poll was conducted in 2005, 69% of Irish respondents identified as religious, 25% as not religious, and 3% as convinced atheists. The 2011 poll results reflect a 22% drop in Irish identification as ‘religious’ in the six years between poll conduction, with a corresponding increase in the ‘not religious’ and ‘convinced atheist’ categories. The United States saw a 13% drop in identification as religious over the same period.

Ireland ties with Austria, Iceland and Australia with ten percent of respondents in the ‘convinced atheist’ category. That puts all four countries behind just seven others for the top percentages of convinced atheists.  China was the least religious nation surveyed, with 14% identifying as religious, 30% as not religious and 47% as convinced atheists.

Read more news from IrishCentral on the Catholic Church