Believing Without Belonging in Irish Society Essay

Believing Without Belonging in Irish Society Essay

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The phrase believing without belonging can indeed be applied to the Irish context with an increasing tendency towards this form of religiosity, yet there are still those who both believe and belong and some neither believe nor belong. Religion has always been at the forefront of Irish Society. Fogarty (1984:8) in studying the 1981 European Values Survey (EVS) found that ‘every indicator of belief, informal and formal practice and attitudes to the church or churches, shows Irish people... to be far more inclined to religion than those of other countries in Europe.’ However, in the 2008 EVS survey, the number of people attending Church weekly had declined from 82.4% in 1981 to 44.2%, with a similar decline in monthly attendance to 65% and 14% never attending church. Yet belief in God has declined at a much lesser rate with 91.8% believing in 2008 compared to 97.1% in 1981. These figures seem to suggest that Irish people are detaching themselves from formalised, institutionalised religious practice but nevertheless are retaining their beliefs.
Davie’s concept of Believing without belonging (1994) is used to describe people who are no longer conforming to religious practice yet still maintain religious belief systems. The Irish EVS figures certainly seem to suggest a trend towards this type of religiosity. Church attendance and other outwards forms of religiosity have declined yet the Irish ‘have not abandoned many of their deep-seated religious aspirations’ (Davie 2000:8). There are still high levels of acceptance of key religious beliefs, despite a growing number of non-affiliated and marginally attached members of religious institutions (Fahey,2005). In fact, in the 2000 EVS survey 50% of the non-affiliated believed in G...


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