Two out of three young people in Finland say they believe in God

Helsinki, Finland - Two-thirds of Finns aged between 15 and 29 believe in God. Only just over 40 per cent see themselves as religious.

According to this year's Youth Barometer survey by Nuora, a state advisory council on youth affairs, fewer than ten per cent consider themselves as atheists, while one in five say that their faith follows that of the Lutheran Church.

The image that young Finns have of the Church is generally positive, even though they prefer to construct a world view on their own.

The degree of religiosity in the childhood home is an important factor in this matter. The older and better-educated the mother is, the more religious a child is likely to become, says Dr. Terhi-Anna Wilska, who headed the study.

While religiosity has an important bearing on the moral concepts of young Finns, the sense of right and wrong is not in any way blurred among those who are less religious.

For instance, work is an increasingly important aspect of the lives of young Finns, and both believers and atheists have a high sense of work ethics.

Tolerance for those who are marginalised from society has increased since the last youth barometer study; the problems experienced by those who have fallen by the wayside are no longer seen to be primarily self-inflicted as was the case before. Finnish young people are very tolerant in sexual matters.

Financial improprieties, such as fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits, are sharply condemned.

A steady job is seen as an important security factor. The most trusted institution is that of the President of the Republic. The presidency is followed by the government, state and municipal civil servants, the Internet, television, and the press. NATO is the last on the list.

According to the survey respondents, the most important task of the Church is the maintenance of cemeteries.

Also seen as important are day facilities for children, baptism, and youth work. Sunday school is regarded as the least important church activity.