Religion in Estonia
Estonia, although nominally a Protestant country, is one of the least religious countries in world, with only 14% of the population declaring religion an important part of their daily life. Among the religious population there are followers of 90 affiliations, Orthodox Christians and Lutheran Christians are the most prevalent. According to Ringo Ringvee, "religion has never played an important role on the political or ideological battlefield" and that the "tendencies that prevailed in the late 1930s for closer relations between the state and Lutheran church were ended with the Soviet occupation in 1940". He further states that "the chain of religious traditions was broken in most families" under the Soviet policy of state atheism.
In the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights brought Christianity to Estonia and during the Protestant Reformation, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church became the established church. Robert T. Francoeur and Raymond J. Noonan write that "In 1925, the church was separated from the state, but religious instruction remained in the schools and clergymen were trained at the Faculty of Theology at Tartu University. With the Soviet occupation and the implementation of anti-Christian legislation, the church lost over two thirds of its clergy. Work with children, youth, publishing, and so on, was banned, church property was nationalized, and the Faculty of Theology was closed." Aldis Purs, a professor of history at the University of Toronto writes that in Estonia, as well as Latvia, some evangelical Christian clergy attempted to resist the Soviet policy of state atheism by engaging in anti-regime activities such as Bible smuggling. The text titled World and Its Peoples: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, published by the Marshall Cavendish, states that in addition to the Soviet antireligious campaign in Estonia, which mandated the confiscation of church property and deportation of theologians to Siberia, many "churches were destroyed in the German occupation of Estonia, from 1941 through 1944, and in World War II (1939-1945)". After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this antireligious legislation was annulled.
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According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 18% of Estonian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 50% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 29% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force". This, according to the survey, would have made Estonians the most non-religious people in the then 25-member European Union. A survey conducted in 2006–2008 by Gallup showed that 14% of Estonians answered positively to the question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?", which was the lowest among 143 countries polled.
Less than a third of the population define themselves as believers; of those, the majority are Lutheran, whereas the Russian minority is Eastern Orthodox. There are also a number of smaller Muslim, Protestant, Jewish, and Buddhist groups. The organisation Maavalla Koda (Taaraism) unites adherents of animist traditional religions. The Russian neopagan organisation "Vene Rahvausu Kogudus Eestis" is registered in Tartu.
|Religion||2000 Census||2011 Census|
|Christian Free Congregations||223||0.02||2,189||0.20|
1Population, persons aged 15 and older.
- Islam in Estonia
- Catholicism in Estonia
- Orthodoxy in Estonia
- List of churches in Estonia
- Hinduism in Estonia
- "PC0454: AT LEAST 15-YEAR-OLD PERSONS BY RELIGION, SEX, AGE GROUP, ETHNIC NATIONALITY AND COUNTY, 31 DECEMBER 2011". Statistics Estonia. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- "PHC 2011: over a quarter of the population are affiliated with a particular religion". Statistics Estonia. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Triin Edovald, Michelle Felton, John Haywood, Rimvydas Juskaitis, Michael Thomas Kerrigan, Simon Lund-Lack, Nicholas Middleton, Josef Miskovsky, Ihar Piatrowicz, Lisa Pickering, Dace Praulins, John Swift, Vytautas Uselis, Ilivi Zajedova (2010). World and Its Peoples: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Marshall Cavendish. p. 1066. ISBN 9780761478966. "It is usually said that Estonia is a Protestant country; however, the overwhelming majority of Estonians, some 72 percent, are nonreligious. Estonia is the European Union (EU) country with the greatest percentage of people with no religious belief. This is in part, the result of Soviet actions and repression of religion. When the Soviet Union annexed Estonia in 1940, church property was confiscated, many theologians were deported to Siberia, most of the leadership of Evangelical Lutheran Church went into exile, and religious instruction was banned. Many churches were destroyed in the German occupation of Estonia, from 1941 through 1944, and in World War II (1939-1945), and religion was actively persecuted in Estonia under Soviet rule 1944 until 1989, when some measure of tolerance was introduced."
- "Estonians least religious in the world". EU Observer. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- "Eestis on 90 usuvoolu: lilla leegi hoidjad, kopimistid, tulekummardajad..." [Estonia has 90 religious affiliations: Keepers of the violet flame, Kopimists, Fire worshipers]. Postimees. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Ringvee, Ringo (16 September 2011). "Is Estonia really the least religious country in the world?". The Guardian. "For this situation there are several reasons, starting from the distant past (the close connection of the churches with the Swedish or German ruling classes) up to the Soviet-period atheist policy when the chain of religious traditions was broken in most families. In Estonia, religion has never played an important role on the political or ideological battlefield. The institutional religious life was dominated by foreigners until the early 20th century. The tendencies that prevailed in the late 1930s for closer relations between the state and Lutheran church were ended with the Soviet occupation in 1940."
- Kalme, Albert (1951). Total Terror: An Exposé of Genocide in the Baltics. Appleton-Century-Crofts. p. 109. ISBN 9781841623207.
- Francoeur, Robert T.; Noonan, Raymond J. (2004). The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. A&C Black. p. 361. ISBN 9780826414885. "The dominant religion in Estonia is Evangelical Lutheranism. Estonians were Christianized by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. During the Reformation, Lutheranism spread, and the church was officially established in Estonia in 1686."
- Francoeur, Robert T.; Noonan, Raymond J. (2004). The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. A&C Black. p. 361. ISBN 9780826414885.
- Purs, Aldis (15 February 2013). Baltic Facades: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1945. Reaktion Books. p. 79. ISBN 9781861899323. "The Soviet union was an avowed atheist state that placed great restrictions on religious practice. Resistance to state-sponsored atheism came from established (although heavily restricted and monitored) religious clergy and from believers roughly following an evangelical Christianity. In Estonia and Latvia Bible-smuggling from the West was one of the more common methods of anti-regime activity."
- Francoeur, Robert T.; Noonan, Raymond J. (2004). The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. A&C Black. p. 361. ISBN 9780826414885. "It was not until 1998 that the state's religious policies became tolerant, and by 1990, repressive legislation was annulled."
- Biotechnology report 2010 p.383
- Crabtree, Steve; Pelham, Brett (February 9, 2009). "What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common". Gallup. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
- Ahto Kaasik. "Old estonian religions". Maavalla Koda. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Barry, Ellen (2008-11-09). "Some Estonians return to pre-Christian animist traditions". The New York Times.
- Uut usuühendust juhib ülemvaimulikuna Vene Erakonna Eestis poliitik
- "PC231: POPULATION BY RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION AND ETHNIC NATIONALITY". Statistics Estonia. 31 March 2000. Retrieved 9 January 2014.