God Loses Ground to Devil in Survey, and Number of French Jews is a Puzzle

Decreasing numbers of people in France believe in God. But belief in the devil is on the rise.

These were among the findings of a survey conducted in this predominantly Catholic country earlier this month for the prestigious daily newspaper Le Monde.

In one of the survey’s more enigmatic results, 3 percent of the respondents said they could be described as Jews.

By extrapolation, this would put the total number of French Jews at about 1.5 million–some three times the total estimated by demographers, who put the total at around 530,000.

But when asked to state their religion, only 1 percent of the respondents replied that they are Jews, which would correctly reflect the actual size of the Jewish community here.

No explanation was offered for the apparent discrepancy between the two results.

Nearly 24 percent of the respondents said religion has no relevance to them, and 22 percent said they are rationalists or atheists.

In the 18-24 age group, 36 percent said they have no religion at all.

Some 57 percent of those polled agreed with the statement “The notion of sin has no meaning to me,” while 39 percent disagreed and 4 percent said they did not know.

The poll also found that 61 percent of the French public believes that the existence of God is “certain” or “probable.” In a similar poll conducted eight years ago, 66 percent voiced belief in God.

Asked whether they believe Jesus is the son of God, 39 percent said no, while 56 percent said they adhere to this belief.

Some 59 percent of those polled said they do not believe in the Holy Trinity, one of the central tenets of the Catholic faith, while 32 percent said they do believe in the Trinity.

When it came to belief in the devil, 34 percent said they believe in Satan. Eight years ago, only 24 percent expressed this belief.

According to the poll, 71 percent of the French public believes in mental telepathy, 60 percent in astrology, 41 percent expressed belief in witchcraft and charms, and 39 percent said they believe in the existence of extraterrestrials.

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