Secularization and changing moral views: European trends in church attendance and views on homosexuality, divorce, abortion, and euthanasia

L.C.J.M. Halman, E.J. van Ingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Analysing survey data from the European Values Study, we investigate whether and how changes in church attendance bring about changes in people’s acceptance of abortion, homosexuality, divorce, and euthanasia. We argue that decreasing church attendance not only should enhance overall acceptance of these moral issues, but it should also lead to greater diversity in opinions on them. From our analyses, we can indeed conclude that declining levels of church attendance have been accompanied by greater permissiveness and increased diversity in attitudes towards abortion, divorce, and euthanasia. However, opinions about homosexuality hardly seem affected by developments in religiosity. Moreover, the trends in Western and Eastern Europe appear rather different. Eastern Europeans are far more conservative; in fact, no significant changes in church attendance levels (on average) were found there. The association between church attendance and moral views is in general weaker in Central and Eastern Europe than in Western Europe, and is even absent in some cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-627
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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