Religiousness in Hungary

The research deals with religious diversity and methodology of religious diversity (tipping on, for example, the European Commission’s work on “Pluralism and religious diversity, social cohesion and integration in Europe – Insights from European research”. Brussels, European Commission, 2011).

The study could complement the existing religious studies in the EU (i.e.: Pew Research Center (2018), Eastern and Western Europeans Differ on Importance of Religion, Views of Minorities, and Key Social Issues).

Research methodology

Large-sample research: A representative sample of 53,061 of a total adult population in Hungary.

The research was conducted using a quantitative, computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) method between September and November 2017. The number of elements is significant as the research team followed the principle of the smallest county, according to which it wanted to provide the sample of 1000 people in the county with the smallest population (Nógrád county, Northern Hungary), and in the other counties we worked with an increased number of elements, by commensurate to the diverse headcount ratio.

After the data cleaning exercise, a final sample of 53,061 people was formed, which we opened up for the project. It took approximately 25 minutes to complete the questionnaire for each participant. A simple random sampling procedure was used for data collection. The final database was later corrected by cell-weighting based on region, county, age group, education, and gender of the respondent compared to the 2011 census data tables.

Short description of the objectives of the work

The team wanted to examine the attitudes of Hungarians towards religion and religiosity in a nuanced way - by using several dimensions (religious practice, acceptance of faith, religious values and norms, religious experience.)

It also aimed at capturing the different types of institutional and non-institutional religiosity characteristics, through the conceptualized dimensions. That is, in addition to traditional, ecclesiastical religiosity, we also wanted to make visible the individualistic manifestations of religiosity, because we assumed that between the purely ecclesiastical and the totally non-religious population, the vast majority of the people is scattered somewhere between these two extreme dimensions.

The research targeted to present the different variants of religiosity between the ecclesiastical and the non-religious ones (e.g.: According to our cluster-analysis: Sponsors, Believers in God, Leaners, Seekers, Bypass Religious), through which better policymaking can become possible.

Result of the research

Historical religiousness has an observable disavowal in modern societies, but the gap is filled up with a mix of beliefs based esoteric and religious dogma rather than pure non-religiousness. Such novel interpretations represent mainly the reformulation of already existing canon, ideology, norms or ethics.

In our survey, we contrasted well-constructed Christian and esoteric elements of the respective beliefs, and had set up five categories based on the representation of such elements in one’s proper system of belief: devote Christian; partially devote Christian; esoteric; patchwork; non-believer.

The research showed that 25% of adult population belongs to the group of devote Christians, 1/6 is partially devote Christian; the relative majority belongs to the group of patchwork beliefs; 5.3% (400k) belongs to the esoteric group; 25% considers themselves as a non-believer. Overall, the Hungarian society cannot be considered as manifestly protest-transcendent. Young people have registered a higher than the rest of the population number for believing in some kind of transcendent tenet.

Grouping of the Hungarian population by faith categories

Grouping of the Hungarian population by faith categories - by age groups (2019)

Follow-up work

Since the research was conducted, it has been important for Századvég Foundation to use the religiosity dimension in more and more research, even in relation to different research topics. Since it is not possible to ask all religious questions in other research, using the results, the research team created a 7-point scale to measure religiosity, which more or less reflects the results we measured. The question is, “How religious do you consider yourself on a seven-point scale where 1 means unreligious and 7 means religious?

[1 (non-religious) - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 (religious)]”

In addition, our research has been presented at several Hungarian conferences, newspaper articles and interviews, as a result of which researchers interested in Hungarian religious research and those interested in the topic, as well as several stakeholders, have contacted us and are looking for cooperation. The topic is still on the surface, in the spring of 2021 a professional discussion on our volume is expected within the Department of Sociology of Religion of the Hungarian Sociological Society.

Scientific outcome from the research

Gyorgyovich, Miklós ed. (2020), Vallásosság Magyarországon: Társadalomtudományi tanulmányok. Budapest, Századvég Kiadó

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