Here’s an interesting graph from this month’s Foreign Policy. It show church attendance as a percentage of the population attending church at least once a week. As you can see Ireland is way out in front.
Do that many Irish people still go to Mass? I really didn’t think the figures were still that high. FP reads into the figures as following (Ireland was ranked third last in the CDI)
The CDI (Commitment to Development Index) measures whether rich states fulfill this commandment. Interesting enough, countries where fewer people go to church score higher in the index. Or, in other words, where there is more preaching, there is less practicing. Just 3 percent of Danes, who rank at the top of the CDI, attend church at least once a week, according to the World Values Survey, which tracks social and cultural changes worldwide. In second-place Netherlands, church attendance stands at 14 percent, while in third-ranked Sweden, a mere 7 percent of the population goes to church once a week. At the opposite extreme is Ireland, which ranks 18th out of 21 CDI countries, but where church attendance stands at 65 percent.
The source of this pattern may be where people put their faith—whether in government bodies or religious institutions. The Netherlands and Nordic nations are small and homogeneous, and they maintain small gaps between rich and poor domestically. As a result, citizens seem to place more trust in elected officials to represent their interests, and, in turn, have a more activist development agenda. They rank highly thanks in no small part to generous foreign aid programs—and an apparent faith in their government’s ability to do good.