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Montevideo, December 15th 2017 - 21:40 UTC

Church influence and marriage, fading institutions in Chile

Friday, December 29th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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The importance of religion in people's lives has diminished and this has been most significant for Chile in the last sixteen years, according to the conclusions of a report from the Chilean chapter of Mori public opinion surveys.

Although most Chileans still consider themselves "religious", the percentage has dropped dramatically from 77% in 1990 to 63% in 2006 points out Mori. The church as an institution is highly criticized by Chileans, with 64% stating that it does not respond to the spiritual needs of people and 52% arguing it does not address adequately the problems of families. However in spite of secularization, the importance of God has not diminished with 87% credibility. According to Marta Lagos, head of Mori Chile, the poll is evidence of strong criticism of the church as an institution, "but it's not only the Catholic Church, it's extensive to all churches operating in Chile". The survey also shows Chileans want less involvement of the church in politics and social affairs with 56% believing Church leaders should not try to influence voters and 53% that religious leaders must abstain from interfering in politics and government decisions. Similarly marriage is loosing relevance for Chileans with 27% describing it as an "antiquated" institution. Besides the number of Chileans believing that a child needs a two parent home has dropped from 83% in 2000 to 75% in 2006. Ms Lagos argues that the poll shows a more open, liberal society where women are playing a leading role, but at the same time presents a "values contradiction". "On the one side values regarding women are more liberal, less marriages, single mothers, but at the same time she must act as housewife, have a university education, which creates significant tension since they are being demanded to simultaneously comply with traditional values and those of a more liberal society", said Lagos. The survey concludes that in spite of the changes, Chile's social structure has not undergone important modifications, and if something has grown is the gap between rich and poor families.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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