'Religion loves tolerance, but is not tolerant'
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/17/2009 12:00:00 AM |
Although Turks identify themselves as religiously tolerant, they do not behave that way in practice, according to a survey. There has been an increase in the number of people identifying themselves as religious since 1999, which might be related to the political atmosphere in Turkey, an academic says
Turkish people strongly identify themselves as religious and also regard religion as a source of tolerance. But when it comes to religious worship, a significant number are not as tolerant of people from other religions, concludes a survey released Tuesday.
Prominent political scientists Ersin Kalaycıoğlu and Ali Çarkoğlu from Sabancı University reported the research findings on religiosity in Turkey under the framework of the International Social Survey Program, or ISSP, which measures religious values from 43 different countries.
International research was conducted three times in the past; the last available data was from 1998. International data from the 2008 research is expected to be available in 2010. Turkey first participated in the survey in 2008 and is the first and only country surveyed with a Muslim majority population.
Eighty-three percent of Turks identify themselves as religious, with 16 percent saying they are extremely religious, 39 percent saying they are highly religious and 32 percent saying they are somewhat religious.
Of the 43 countries surveyed, Turkey, Poland, the Philippines and the United States are among the most religious. Almost half of Turks say they practice religious prayers and also identify themselves as religious. Twenty-eight percent say they pray, but do not regard themselves as highly religious.
According to Çarkoğlu, there has been a significant increase since 1999 in the number of people who identify as religious. “This is the most striking conclusion of this survey, though it is not alarming,” he said. He added that the change could be related to peoples’ attitudes toward behaving in accordance with the current political climate.
Another striking discovery made by the survey was that 60 percent of Turks said there is only one true religion, while 34 percent said most religions hold basic truths.
The findings on tolerance toward religions are remarkable as well. Ninety percent of the Turkish population reported having a positive view toward Muslims, but this ratio dropped to 13 percent for Christians and around 10 percent for Jews. Those who said they have highly positive views about non-believers of any religion totaled 7 percent.
When it comes to accepting political candidates from different religions, 37 percent of Turks said they would absolutely not accept this and 12 percent said they would most likely not accept it. However, 23 percent said they would absolutely accept it and 24 percent say they would probably accept it. Eleven percent of Turks said people from different religions should absolutely be allowed to organize public meetings to express their ideas, while 24 percent said they should be allowed to do so.
Thirty-six percent said people from different religions absolutely should not be allowed to organize such meetings, while 23 percent said they should not be allowed to do so.
[HH] Following religious rules
Another striking discovery dealt with obeying laws that contradict religious rules. A majority of the participants in the research, 67 percent, said they would continue acting in accordance with their religious beliefs if the Parliament passed a law that contradicted religious laws. Twenty-six percent said they would obey the country’s law in this case.
When it comes to the perception of God, Turks identify with a God who is more like a father than a mother, but as a lover rather than a judge. The perception of God for Turks is closer to the tasavvuf, or Islamic Sufism, tradition in Anatolia. Turks are more inclined to identify with God as a friend rather than a sultan or a spouse, or as the master of the house.