Religion in the Netherlands
|Life in the Netherlands|
Religion in the Netherlands was predominantly Christian until late into the 20th century. Although religious diversity remains, there has been a decline of religious adherence. The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in Western Europe, with only 39% being religiously affiliated (31% for those aged under 35), and fewer than 20% visiting church regularly.
In 2010 the Dutch population was made up of 16,615,000 people. Among these 24.6% (4.1 million) were Roman Catholics, 14.8% (2.5 million) were Protestants (of these 2.25 million or 13.5% were Reformed and Lutherans, 230,000 or 1.3% were other Protestants), 0.7% (130,000) were other Christians, Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses and others), 5% (907,000) were Muslims, 1.0% (170,000) were Buddhists, 0.9% (150,000) were Hindus. 8,527,000 people or 51.3% of the population were mostly non religious, and 1.2% were followers of other religions.
The rebellious Netherlands that had united in the Union of Utrecht (1579) declared their independence from Spain in 1581, during the Eighty Years' War; Spain finally accepted this in 1648. The Dutch revolt was partially religiously motivated: during the Reformation many of the Dutch had adopted Lutheran, Anabaptist, Calvinist or Mennonite forms of Protestantism. These religious movements were suppressed by the Spanish, who supported the Counter Reformation. After independence the Netherlands adopted Calvinism as a quasi state religion (although never formally), but practiced a degree of religious tolerance towards non-Calvinists. It became considerably safe for Jewish and Protestant refugees from Flanders, France (Huguenots), Germany and England (Pilgrims for instance). There have always been considerable differences between orthodox and liberal interpretations of Calvinism: between Arminianism and Gomarism in the 17th century; and between the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederlands Hervormde Kerk) and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland) in the late 19th century, which even led to a denominational difference between hervormd and gereformeerd, though linguistically both meaning "reformed". Catholics, who dominated the southern provinces, were not allowed to practice their religion openly. They were emancipated during the late 19th and early 20th century through pillarization, by forming their own social communities. In the 20th century the major religions began to decline: most Dutch Jews did not survive the Holocaust; and in the 1960s and 1970s Protestantism and Catholicism began to decline. There is one major exception: Islam which grew considerably as the result of immigration. Since the year 2000 there has been raised awareness of religion, mainly due to Muslim extremism. In 2013 a Catholic became Queen consort.
Currently, Roman Catholicism is the single largest religion of the Netherlands, forming some 24 percent of the Dutch people in 2011, down from 40 percent in the 1970s. The number of Catholics is not only declining, but many people who identify themselves as Roman Catholics also do not regularly attend Sunday Mass. Fewer than 200,000 people, or 1.2% of the Dutch population, attends Mass on a given Sunday, according to the Catholic University of Nijmegen Institute for Ecclesiastical Statistics (KASKI) in their 2007 annual statistical update of the Dutch Catholic province, Most Catholics live in the southern provinces of North Brabant and Limburg, where they comprise a majority of the population. As of 2014 cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, the Archbishop of Utrecht, is the highest Catholic authority.
The Protestant Church of the Netherlands (PKN) forms the largest Protestant denomination, with some 12.3% of the population, down from 60% in the early 20th century. It was formed in 2004 as a merger of the two major strands of Calvinism: the Dutch Reformed Church (which then represented roughly 8.5% of the population) and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (at that time 3.7% of the population) and a smaller Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (0.1%). Since the 1970s these three churches had seen a major decline in adherents and had begun to work together. The Church embraces religious pluralism.
A large number of Protestant churches, mostly orthodox Calvinist splits and liberal churches, stayed out of the PKN. They represent some 6% of the population.
Islam is a relatively new and fast-growing religion in the Netherlands, as per recent (CBS) statistics about 825,000 or 5% of the Dutch population are Muslims. Muslim numbers began to rise after the 1970s as the result of immigration. Some migrants from former Dutch colonies, such as Surinam and Indonesia, were sometimes Muslim, but migrant workers from Turkey and Morocco are the biggest part of it, as well as their children. During the 1990s, the Netherlands opened its borders for Muslim refugees from countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Of the immigrant ethnic groups, 100% of Bosniaks; 99% of Moroccans; 90% of Turks; 69% of Asians; 64% of other Africans, and 12% of Surinamese were Muslims. Muslims form a diverse group. Social tensions between native Dutch and migrant Muslims began to rise in the early 21st century, with the rise and murder of populist politician Pim Fortuyn by militant animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf and the murder of Theo van Gogh by an extremist Muslim, Mohammed Bouyeri.
Because of its social tolerance, the Dutch Republic formed a haven for Jews that were persecuted because of their beliefs throughout Europe. Prominent Dutch Jews include Baruch Spinoza, a 17th-century philosopher, Aletta Jacobs, a 19th-century feminist, and Henri Polak, who founded both the socialist party SDAP and the labor union NVV. The majority of Jews lived in Amsterdam, where they formed an eighth (90,000) of the population. During the Second World War about 75% of Dutch Jews were deported and murdered in the Holocaust.
Cults, sects, and new religious movements
The Dutch government chose not to make special laws regarding cults, sects or new religious movements (generally all informally called "sekten" in Dutch). This decision was based on reports made after the 1978 Jonestown mass murder and suicide. Nor is there any officially assigned institute that provides information to the public about these movements and organizations.
Since November 2012, an official complaint website about cults, sects, new religious movements, spiritual courses, philosophy courses, and therapy groups exists. The website was initiated by the Ministry of Security and Justice. The website can also refer people to psychological counsellors. The immediate reason for this website was an undercover documentary by the commercial TV station SBS6, presented by Alberto Stegeman about the Miracle of Love movement.
Secularization, or the decline in religiosity, first became noticeable after 1960 in the Protestant rural areas of Friesland and Groningen. Then, it spread to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the other large cities in the west. Finally the Catholic southern areas showed religious declines. A countervailing trend is produced by a religious revival in the Protestant Bible Belt, and the growth of Muslims and Hindu communities resulting from immigration and high fertility levels.
After the Second World War the major religions began to decline, while a new religion, Islam, began to increase in numbers. During the 1960s and 1970s, pillarization began to weaken and the population became less religious. In 1971, 39% of the Dutch population were members of the Roman Catholic Church; by 2007, their share of the population had dropped to 26% (KASKI data). The proportion of adherents of mainline Protestantism declined in the same period from 31% to 11%. An additional 5% of the population adheres to other Protestant churches. With only 40% of the Dutch currently adhering to a church, the Netherlands is one of the least religious countries of Europe. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Dutch policy on abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and prostitution became very liberal. As a result of the declining religious adherence, the two major strands of Calvinism, the Dutch Reformed Church and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, together with a small Lutheran group began to cooperate, first as the Samen op weg Kerken ("Together on the road churches") and since 2004 as the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, a united Protestant church.
During the same period, Islam increased from nearly 0% to 5%. The main Islamic immigrants came from Surinam and Indonesia, as a result of decolonization, Turkey and Morocco, as migrant workers, and Iraq, Iran, Bosnia and Afghanistan as refugees. In the early 21st century, religious tensions between native Dutch people and migrant Muslims is increasing. After the rise of the populist politician Pim Fortuyn, who sought to defend the Dutch liberal culture against what he saw as a "backwards religion", stricter immigration laws were enacted. Religious tensions heightened after Theo van Gogh was killed in 2004 by Mohammed Bouyeri, a conservative Muslim.
|This section requires expansion. (August 2011)|
In the following table, one can see the complexity of religion in the Netherlands: while 45% of the Dutch population are not members of any religious community, the other 55% are distributed over a diversity of religions. Over 45% of the Dutch population is affiliated with a Christian church. The largest group, 26.6%, is Roman Catholic. The rest is distributed over a multitude of Protestant churches making up the 18.3% of the population. The largest of which is the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which in fact is an alliance of three churches, two Calvinist and one Lutheran. Some 12.3% of the population is member of this church. Smaller churches make up about the 6% of the Dutch population. These churches have either been the result of conflicts within the Calvinist Church or been imported, mainly from the United States. Other Christians (Eastern Orthodox and Restorationists) make up only a small percentage. The remaining 10% of the population are members of another religion, such as Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Baha'i, or Buddhism.
It should be noted that different sources give very different percentages. A 2007 research God in Nederland, based on in-depth interviews of 1132 people concluded that 61% of the Dutch are non-affiliated. Fewer than 20% attend church regularly. Similar studies were done in 1966, 1979 and 1996, showing a steady decline of religious affiliation. That this trend is likely to continue is illustrated by the fact that in the age group under 35, 69% are non-affiliated. However, those who are religious tend to be more profoundly religious than in the past. Religious belief is also regarded as a very personal affair, as is illustrated by the fact that 60% of self-described believers are not affiliated with any organised religion. There is a stronger stress on positive sides of belief, with Hell and the concept of damnation being pushed into the background. One quarter of non-believers sometimes pray, but more in a sense of meditative self-reflection.
|Old Catholic Church||Old Catholic||5,981||2004||<0.1%|
|Free Catholic Church in the Netherlands||Free Catholic Church||800||2004||<0.1%|
|Protestant Church in the Netherlands||Lutheran and Calvinist||1,944,000||2005||12%|
|Restored Reformed Church||Calvinist
|Continued Reformed Churches||Calvinist
|Christian Reformed Churches||Calvinist
|Netherlands Reformed Congregations||Calvinist
|Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands||Calvinist
|Continued Reformed Churches in the Netherlands||Calvinist
|Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands (in repaired relations)||Calvinist
|Old Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands||Calvinist
|Free Old Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands||Calvinist
|Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated)||Calvinist
|Netherlands Reformed Churches||Calvinist
|New Reformed Churches||Calvinist
|Mennonite Church in the Netherlands||Anabaptist
|Union of Baptist Churches in the Netherlands||Baptist
|Brotherhood of Baptist Churches||Baptist
|Independent Free Baptist Churches||Baptist
|League of Free Evangelican Parishes||Lutheran||5,821||2004||<0.1%|
|New Apostolic Church||Restorationist||11,856||2004||0.1%|
|United Pentecostal and Gospelchurches||Pentecostal||19,820||2004||0.1%|
|Church of England, Diocese in Europe||Anglican||33,000||2004||0.2%|
|Seventh-day Adventist Church||Restorationist||4,500||2004||<0.1%|
|Gathering of Religious||Dispensationalism||10,000||*||0.1%|
|Geredja Indjili Maluku||unknown||25,000||2004||0.2%|
|Christian Church Netherlands
|Liberal Religious Community NPB||*||5,338||2004||<0.1%|
|Nederlands Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap||Judaism||5,000||*||<0.1%|
|Union of Religious Liberal Jews in the Netherlands||Judaism||3,500||*||<0.1%|
|No religious affiliation||7,230,000||*||42.7%|
- Ietsism (Dutch term for an undetermined faith in a higher force)
- Sikhism in the Netherlands
- Buddhism in the Netherlands
- History of Dutch religion
- Hinduism in the Netherlands
- Irreligion in the Netherlands
- Islam in the Netherlands
- Judaism in the Netherlands
- Religion by country
- Roman Catholicism in the Netherlands
- "Only few Dutch people go to church or mosque regularly". Web Magazine. Statistics Netherlands. 12 June 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-10. Statistics Netherlands is an official government office.
- Becker, Jos and Joep de Hart (2006). Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland (in Dutch). Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau. ISBN 90-377-0259-7. OCLC 84601762.
- Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, pages 102-104
-  retrieved 2 February 2014
- "Religion in the beginning of the 21st century" (PDF), Central Bureau of Statistics, the Netherlands, 2009, retrieved 2012-02-14
- "Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- JCH Blom (July 1989). "The Persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands: A Comparative Western European Perspective". European History Quarterly 19 (3): 333–351. doi:10.1177/026569148901900302.
- "Prof. Fokko Oldenhuis: 'The government should set up an advisory centre to tackle sects' < University of Groningen". Rug.nl. 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- "Hoeveel sekteleiders lopen hier rond? Ministerie wist het niet meer - Religie - TROUW". Trouw.nl. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- "pers | Sektesignaal". Sektesignaal.nl. 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- "Steunpunt slachtoffers misstanden bij sektes gelanceerd | Nieuwsbericht". Rijksoverheid.nl. 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- Hans Knippenberg, "Secularization in the Netherlands in its historical and geographical dimensions," GeoJournal (1998) 45#3 pp 209-220. online
- Tomáš Sobotka and Feray Adigüzel, "Religiosity and spatial demographic differences in the Netherlands" (2002) online
- (Dutch) Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland, Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, September 2006
- (Dutch) Fortuyn: grens dicht voor islamiet, Volkskrant, 2002-02-09
- Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, page 92
- Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, page 92
- "SCP-publicatie "Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland"". Web.archive.org. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- de Vries, Jelle (2002). The Babi Question You Mentioned--: The Origins of the Baha'i Community of the Netherlands, 1844-1962. Peeters Publishers. ISBN 978-90-429-1109-3