Eastern Europeans are more inclined to believe that their culture is superior to others. Over 50 percent of respondents from former Eastern bloc countries, including Russia, Poland, and Georgia, agreed with the statement, according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center on Monday.
These countries were also more likely to lean toward the right on social issues and oppose same-sex marriage, abortion, and immigration.
Due to the ongoing refugee crisis, the protection of “European values” has been a talking point for many far-right movements, which are gaining in popularity. This phenomenon isn’t just limited to Eastern Europe, however, with the likes of Marine Le Pen in France leading the way.
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) October 29, 2018
However, even among young adults, few Eastern Europeans seem to be accepting of religious minorities, particularly Muslims. Only 36 percent of Poles aged 18 to 34 said they would accept a Muslim as a member of their family, while 61 percent would be receptive to a Jewish family member.
In comparison, Western European nations, such as Sweden, held different views. Only 26 percent of Swedes agreed that their culture was superior and 88 percent said they would be open to welcoming a Muslim family member.
The survey took place in 2015-2017 and asked citizens across Europe if they agreed with the statement, “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.”
The numbers show there is a clear divide in values between Western and Eastern Europe. Multiple factors, including the role of religion, can account for these differences.
Within EU countries we surveyed, majorities in Western Europe favor same-sex marriage (for example, 88% in Sweden, 75% in Germany), while majorities in almost all Central/Eastern European countries *oppose* same-sex marriage (74% Romania, 79% Bulgaria). https://t.co/VaCkzUPHG8
— Jeff Diamant (@jeffdime) October 29, 2018
Christianity was once the dominating religion throughout Europe, but religious affiliations in the West have sharply declined while holding steady or even rising in the East. Pew found that those with no religious affiliation accounted for 15 percent of the population in every Western European country that was surveyed.
Although many Western Europeans say they were baptized as Christians, a large number have drifted away from the faith. For example, 83 percent of Belgians were raised Christian, compared to the 55 percent of respondents who currently identify as Christians.
Respondents listed a multitude of factors that contributed to their loss of faith, including disagreeing with the Church on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
The Eastern European countries, on the other hand, have witnessed a revitalization of Christianity, particularly the Orthodox and Catholic branches. Ninety-eight percent of Romanians were raised Christian and still identify as such, while in Russia the Christian share has increased from 65 to 73 percent.
The fall of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, which traditionally persecuted religions, could explain this religious awakening. In Russia and Ukraine, respondents who were previously agnostic or atheists, but converted said part of it had to do with national pride and the acceptance of Christianity in their respective societies.
While there were some stark differences, the survey did find some common ground. The vast majority of adults surveyed in both Western and Eastern Europe believed it was important to speak the national language and respect their laws.
Ninety-three percent of Germans and 96 percent of Hungarians said one must obey the country’s laws and institutions to share in their national identity.