Women are more religious than men and more likely to pray daily – and they may be born that way, according to a study.
Researchers found British women are twice as likely as their male counterparts to thank God every day.
Women are also one-and-a-half times as likely to go to church every week and more likely to say that religion is “very important” to them.
Experts said there was strong evidence that this gap between the genders was down to genetic differences between men and women.
David Voas, head of the Department of Social Science at University College London, who was consulted for the paper, said societal factors alone did not explain the difference.
“There appears to be some fairly compelling evidence – for example from studies of twins – that genes do affect our disposition to be religious,” he said. “And if that’s the case, it’s at least plausible that the gender gap in religiosity is partly a matter of biology.
“If true, though, I doubt that it’s because there’s a ‘God gene’ and women are more likely to have it than men.
“It seems easier to believe that physiological or hormonal differences could influence personality, which may in turn be linked to variations in spirituality or religious thinking.”
The results were part of a report called The Gender Gap in Religion from Pew, a respected US-based research institute.
They carried out surveys and used existing data on dozens of countries around the world to compare how men and women see faith. The figures from the UK showed that 23 percent of women said they prayed every day compared with 14 percent of men.
When asked if religion was “very important” to them, 25 percent of women said yes, and 18 percent of men gave the same answer.
About 15 percent of women said they went to church every week versus 10 percent of men. Pew also asked about atheism and found 56 percent of men did not believe in God compared with 46 percent of women.
The trend in Britain was echoed around the world. Out of 81 countries surveyed in one part of the research, women reported greater levels of weekly prayer attendance in 30 nations – most of which have Christian majorities or large Christian populations.
In 28 countries, mostly places with Muslim majorities or large Muslim populations, men reported greater weekly attendance than women, mostly due to cultural reasons.
Professor Voas said women could be drawn to Christianity over other belief systems because it “presents itself as a religion of the powerless”. He said that, for some, that makes it “appealingly feminine” but for others that makes it “appallingly effeminate”.
He added that some studies have shown that staying at home makes a person more likely to be religious, which could explain why some housewives are drawn to God.
Source – iol