Romanian belief in astrology suggests change in global religious outlook

A Recent survey conducted by the Bureau of Social Research shows changes in Romanian religious attitudes that mirror those in Western nations

Universum, from wikipedia
Universum, from wikipedia
Bucharest, Romania – A recent Bureau of Social Research survey shows that one in five Romanian adults believes in reincarnation and almost one in two has consulted his or her horoscope last week. The findings, released immediately after Easter, are in stark contrast to both local and global media perceptions, which tend to see Eastern Europe in general and Romania, in particular, as a land of traditional religiosity. The results, aligned with general European and American trends, also highlight a less known facet of religious globalization.

With a population at an economic and educational level quite different from that of many Western nations, 27.6% of Romanians share New Age beliefs in reincarnation, a rate higher than that found in the US where according to a 2005 Harris Poll 20% of population believes in reincarnation. According to the Harris Poll, 28% of Americans believe in witches, a proportion almost equal to that of 29.35% of Romanians who believe in witchcraft. 68.2% of Romanians believe in miracles, which closely matches the proportion of American population, 73%, who believes in supernatural acts.

Romanians have embraced the Aquarian habit of looking at the stars to get guidance in their lives at a much higher proportion than the American population, whose New Age fads are almost 40 years old. 47.4% of Romanians believe in astrology, compared with 25% of Americans.
The religious findings reported in Romania, an Oregon size nation of 20 million located in South Eastern Europe, are just the last batch of indicators that suggest an increasing Eastern European spiritual convergence with the West. The data are in tune with several other studies conducted in the last decades. Some of them, such as those reported by Andrew Greeley in 2004 in “Religion in Europe”, suggest that belief in astrology is quite high throughout Europe, where 41% of the French, 37% of Germans, 40% of Hungarians or 54% of Russians believe in the power of the stars to preordain human fate.

Romania, like most other post-Soviet countries, has been through several phases of religious transformation over the last half century. It has been less obvious until recently how much this transformation could parallel, although for different reasons and in different manners, that of the Western world. During the 1950s forcible secularization by curtailing religious freedom in the Eastern Block paralleled major changes in traditional religious faith in the West. From the late 1960s to early 90s, Eastern Europe has gone through a spiritual renewal process, yet this has not necessarily meant a return to the old Orthodox ways. As the findings suggested above, the trend is to embrace more contemporary faiths, in tune with global trends.

Other notable poll findings:
Only 51.9% of Romanians intend to vote in the June 2009 elections for the European Parliament. Of these, a majority of 55.7% will vote for the ruling LDP-SDP coalition. The center-right liberals (NLP) are expected to get 20.4% of the votes. Almost 10% of Romanians that will vote expressed their preference for the nationalist Greater Romania and New Generation Parties, which have recovered some of the ground lost over the last four years.

Romanian president Traian Basescu, who is due for reelection later this year, remains the favorite candidate in the presidential race. Yet, his main contender, the center-right candidate Crin Antonescu, has a very strong position. A less known politician, Antonescu is favored by 48.7% of the likely voters, compared to a slightly larger proportion, 51.3% of Romanians, who would vote for the incumbent Basescu, who has lost some of his popular appeal since he gave his blessing to a ruling coalition between his party and their former enemies, the social democrats. A majority of Romanians 62%, distrust Traian Basescu today, a dramatic change since February 2009, when only 48.1% of Romanians said that they distrusted the president.
51.7% of Romanians are disenchanted with the economic predicament of the nation, which has been declining with the rest of the world since October 2008. Yet, they do not blame the current situation only on the global economic slowdown, as expected, but also and mostly on their leaders. 42.9% of Romanians blame the economic crisis on the decisions made by their government, compared to 40.8 who find fault with the global economic environment. In this context, a slightly higher proportion of 39% believes that the recent IMF loan would help Romania, compared to the 36.6% who find the loan useless or damaging.

About the survey:
Sample: 1095 adults, selected through stratified sampling (8 regions X 6 city and town sizes) from 74 cities, towns and villages of Romania’s 40 counties were interviewed in person between April 6-14, 2009. The sample is representative for the adult population of Romania with a margin of error of +/- 3%. The results reported in the study were not weighted.

The study was conducted by Dr. Bruno Stefan (Director of the Bureau of Social Research and Professor at Bucharest Polytechnic University) in collaboration with Dr. Sorin Adam Matei (Purdue University). The study was sponsored by Marsh Copsey and Associates, Washington, DC.

For details contact Dr. Sorin Adam Matei, smatei [a t] purdue [ dot ] edu

Other sources cited in this article:
The Religious and Other Beliefs of Americans 2005,
Greeley, A. 2004. Religion in Europe at the end of the second millennium, Transactions,M1

The Bureau of Social Research
is a policy oriented polling research organizations based in Bucharest, Romania, founded and lead by Dr. Bruno Stefan.
Str. Drept??ii Nr. 10, Sector 6, Bucharest

Complete Poll results:

Religious globalization suggested by Romanian study

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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