Helsinki, Finland - Despite most Finns being happy to welcome a member of another religion into their family, the majority hold negative views on Islam, according to new research on social attitudes across the world.
Kimmo Ketola from the Church Research Institution, which carried out the study, said that Finns have a positive view of Hinduism and Buddhism, feel the closest affiliation with Christianity, but have poor impressions of Islam.
Despite witnessing more acceptance of other religions over the past 20 years, the institute concludes that attitudes towards Islam hardened in Finland in the last decade. Ketola claims the trend is due to the way Muslims are portrayed in the media. “There are very few Muslim immigrants in Finland compared to many other European countries. The media can convey an exceedingly harsh and negative picture of Islam,” he said in a report by YLE.
Only four percent of those interviewed, however, said they would be opposed to a family member marrying someone of a different faith. “When Finns were asked whether they’d be ready to accept people of other religions into their family or as representatives of their parties, in this regard Finns were among the least prejudiced of nations,” Ketola said.
Three out of five Finns said that religion is more likely to bring conflict than peace, while four out of five believe people with a strong faith tend to be intolerant. Although the majority of Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10 percent admitted that they do not believe in God.
The findings have been compared against the 1998 Religion: II survey of International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), which canvassed 50,000 people from 34 different countries.