Religion in the Netherlands

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Religion in the Netherlands (2005)[1]

  Irreligious (51.3%)
  Roman Catholicism (24.6%)
  Protestantism (14.8%)
  Islam (5.8%)
  Hinduism (1.4%)
  Buddhism (1.2%)
  Other Unspecified (0.9%)

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 5,6% visiting church regularly (meaning once or more per month) in 2010. Religion is in the Netherlands generally considered a personal matter which is not supposed to be propagated in public.[2]

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 SCP expects the number of non-affiliated Dutch to be at 72% in 2020.[3]

History[edit]

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 1947, 44.3% belonged to Protestant denominations, 38.7% belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and 17.1% were unaffiliated.[4] 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.[5] In 2013 a Catholic became Queen consort.

Abrahamic religions[edit]

Christianity[edit]

Roman Catholicism[edit]

Basilica of Saint Servatius (built 570) in Maastricht is the oldest church in the Netherlands.

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,[6] 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. A planned visit of Pope Francis to the Netherlands was blocked by Eijk in 2014, allegedly because of the feared lack of interest for the Pope among the Dutch public.[7] Since the provinces North Brabant and Limburg are in The Netherlands mostly Roman Catholic by tradition, their people still use the term and certain traditions as a base for their cultural identity rather than as a religious identity. The vast majority of the Catholic population in the Netherlands is now largely irreligious in practice. Research among Catholics in the Netherlands in 2007 shows that only 27% of the Dutch Catholics can be regarded as a theist, 55% as an ietsist / agnostic theist and 17% as agnostic.[8]

Protestant Churches[edit]

The Protestant Church of the Netherlands (PKN) forms the largest Protestant denomination, with some 10.8% 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. Research shows that 42% of the members of the PKN is a non-theist.[8] Furthermore, in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) and several other smaller denominations of the Netherlands, 1 in 6 clergy are either agnostic or atheist.[9][10] A minister of the PKN, Klaas Hendrikse has described God as "a word for experience, or human experience" and said that Jesus may have never existed.[9][11] The number of members falls on average by about 2.5% per year. This is caused primarily by the death of older members and little growth among the younger population.[12]

A large number of Protestant churches, mostly orthodox Calvinist splits and liberal churches, stayed out of the PKN. They represent some 4,% of the population.

Islam[edit]

A Mosque in Terborg.

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.[13] In 2006, there were 850,000 Muslims (5% of the total Dutch population).[13] In early 2012 this number had shrunk to 825.000 (4% of the total Dutch population) as a result of different determinations methods.[14] 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, 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.[15] 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.

Judaism[edit]

The Portuguese Synagogue (built 1675) in Amsterdam is the oldest synagogue in the Netherlands.

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.[16]

Cults, sects, and new religious movements[edit]

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.[17]

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.[18] The website can also refer people to psychological counsellors.[19][20] 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.[18]

Secularization[edit]

Secularization, and 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.[21][22]

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%.[23] 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 1960s till 1980s, religion lost its influence on the Dutch politics and as a result in 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",[24] stricter immigration laws were enacted. Religious tensions heightened after Theo van Gogh was killed in 2004 by Mohammed Bouyeri, a conservative Muslim.

Humanism[edit]

A research in 2003 shows that about 1.27 million people in the Netherlands express explicitly an affinity with secular humanism, which is about 9.4% of the total population.[25] Erasmus and Coornhert are important early representatives of humanism in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Erasmus translated many classical texts so that they were accessible to a wide audience. In this period, there is still no non-or anti-religion movement. However, there was a sense of free will, own strength and reason. Dirck Coornhert in the Netherlands was one of the first who advocated religious tolerance. He did not derive his moral from the Christian faith, but found that people outside the faith could be virtuous as well. A statement Coornhert made is: "He who is never in doubt, does never learn." In the 17th century, especially Spinoza and Hugo Grotius were important. Baruch Spinoza (17th century) dared to call the Bible man-made. The jurist Hugo Grotius focused on the law relating to war, peace and law. Internationally, he is regarded as the founder of modern human rights. During the Age of Enlightenment (18th century), the importance of science and research increased sharply. Confidence in human understanding and logical reasoning was given shape in liberalism. The German philosopher Kant and the evolution theory of Darwin, among other scientific theories in the 19th century, had an exceptionally strong influence and were a major step in the development of humanism in the Netherlands. Ludwig Feuerbach called religion a creation of the human mind. De modern organized humanist movement began in the Netherlands in the mid-nineteenth century with the establishment of freethinkers association De Dageraad (Dawn). The members, including writer Multatuli and later Anton Constandse. Marx's socialism had a significant influence on the Dutch humanism of the 20th century. With the establishment of the humanistic associations Humanitas in 1945 and the Humanistisch Verbond in 1946, Dutch humanists organized themselves after the Second World War to fight the still highly compartmentalized society which was dominated by separate Christians movements in the Netherlands (pillarisation). When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, the Dutch Humanist movements became involved with the establishment of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in 1952 (and since 1990 also the European Humanist Federation).[26]

Educational institutes[edit]

Demographics[edit]

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 4% 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.

Slightly more than half (52,8%) of the respondents to a research about humanism in 2003 affiliated with no religious or philosophical movement at all. In contrast 8% said to follow more than 1 movement. This form of pluralism occurs in all religious and philosophical Dutch movements, but is strongest among supporters of non-Western religions. 75% of Dutch Buddhists also affiliate with other religious or philosophical movements. Among followers of Hinduism in the Netherlands, this ratio is even higher, at 91%. On the other hand, followers of Western religions and humanism, as well as movements in the 'other' category were least likely to affiliate with more than one religious or philosophical movement. Within Western movements the people affiliating with humanism were most likely to also adhere to one or more other movements (47%). Most of these humanists adhere to Catholicism (27%), Protestantism (14%) or Buddhism (12%). Also 9% of Catholics, 6% of Protestants and 50%t of the Buddhists counting themselves as humanists, as well as 25% of the Muslims , 55% of the Hindu, 19% of the Jews and 15% of the supporters of a movement other than those listed.[27]

It should be noted that different sources give very different percentages.[28] 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 7% attend church regularly (at least once a month). 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.[28] Also Ietsism, Agnosticism and Christian atheism are on the rise; the first two being general accepted and the last being more or less considered to be non-controversial.

Almost all Christian groups show a decrease in the number of members or less stable membership, except for some 'reformed churches, which shows the largest growth of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (measured by its size). However, in particular the loss of members of the two major churches, which are the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, with a membership loss of more than 300 thousand members between late 2005 and late 2010, and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, with a membership loss of more than 150 thousand members, cause the number of Christians in the Netherlands to be decreased from approximately 7.132 million (44%) by the end of 2005 to 6,861 million (39%) [29] by the end of 2010.


Membership of Religious Communities according to 2004 data from a 2007 SCP report[30]
Religion Orientation Adherents Year Population (%)
(estimate)
Christianity 7,500,000 * 43.4%
Catholicism 4,359,000 2006 26.6%
Catholicism Roman Catholic 4,352,000 2006 26.6%
Old Catholic Church Old Catholic 5,981 2004 <0.1%
Free Catholic Church in the Netherlands Free Catholic Church 800 2004 <0.1%
Protestant 3,033,831 * 18.3%
Protestant Church in the Netherlands Lutheran and Calvinist 1,944,000 2005 12%
Restored Reformed Church Calvinist
(Hervormd)
70,000 2005 0.4%
Continued Reformed Churches Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
3,900 2005 <0.1%
Christian Reformed Churches Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
74,853 2005 0.5%
Netherlands Reformed Congregations Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
103,272 2005 0.6%
Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
21,708 2005 0.1%
Continued Reformed Churches in the Netherlands Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
3,000 2005 <0.1%
Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands (in repaired relations) Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
1,250 2005 <0.1%
Old Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
18,000 2005 0.1%
Free Old Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
18,000 2004 0.1%
Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
125,970 2005 0.8%
Netherlands Reformed Churches Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
31,590 2004 0.2%
New Reformed Churches Calvinist
(Gereformeerd)
1,500 2005 <0.1%
Mennonite Church in the Netherlands Anabaptist
(Doopsgezind)
9,368 2005 0.1%
Remonstant Brotherhood Remonstrant
(Remonstrant)
4,581 2005 <0.1%
Union of Baptist Churches in the Netherlands Baptist
(Baptist)
11,364 2004 0.1%
Brotherhood of Baptist Churches Baptist
(Baptist)
4,200 2004 <0.1%
Independent Free Baptist Churches Baptist
(Baptist)
4,200 2004 <0.1%
League of Free Evangelican Parishes Lutheran 5,821 2004 <0.1%
Evangelican Brotherhood Lutheran 12,000 2005 0.1%
New Apostolic Church Restorationist 11,856 2004 0.1%
Apostolic Community Pentecostal 18,673 2004 0.1%
United Pentecostal and Gospelchurches Pentecostal 19,820 2004 0.1%
Other Pentecostal Pentecostal 50,830 2004 0.4%
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%
Salvation Army Methodism 6,840 2005 <0.1%
Geredja Indjili Maluku unknown 25,000 2004 0.2%
Christian Church Netherlands
(Nordic Brotherhood)
unknown 2,100 2004 <0.1%
Quaker * 200 * <0.1%
Liberal Religious Community NPB * 5,338 2004 <0.1%
Zwingli Union * 150 * <0.1%
Eastern Orthodox 22,000 2004 0.1%
Eastern Orthodox Orthodox 22,000 2004 0.1%
Islam 944,000 2004 5.8%
Islam Islam 944,000 2004 5.8%
Judaism 35,900 * 0.2%
Nederlands Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap Judaism 5,000 * <0.1%
Union of Religious Liberal Jews in the Netherlands Judaism 3,500 * <0.1%
Portugees-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap Judaism 600 * <0.1%
Hinduism 215,000 2004 1.3%
Hinduism Hinduism 215,000 * 1.3%
Buddhism 169,000 2004 1.0%
Buddhism Buddhism 169,000 2004 1.0%
Sikhism 12,000 2004 0.1%
Sikhism Sikhism 12,000 2004 0.1%
No religious affiliation 7,230,000 * 42.7%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Donk, W.B.H.J. van de; Jonkers, A.P.; Kronjee, G.J.; Plum, R.J.J.M.: Geloven in het publieke domein, verkenningen van een dubbele transformatie, WRR, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam
  2. ^ Becker, Jos and Joep de Hart (2006). Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland (in Dutch). Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau. ISBN 90-377-0259-7. OCLC 84601762. 
  3. ^ Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, God in Nederland (2006/2007)
  4. ^ "Volkstellingen 1795–1971". Volkstellingen.nl. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ [1] retrieved 2 February 2014
  7. ^ http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4492/Nederland/article/detail/3587802/2014/02/01/Kardinaal-Eijk-blokkeert-bezoek-paus-Franciscus.dhtml
  8. ^ a b God in Nederland' (1996-2006), by Ronald Meester, G. Dekker, ISBN 9789025957407
  9. ^ a b Pigott, Robert (5 August 2011). "Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world". BBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  10. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6TuZ9F-PGo
  11. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eypysiJQgw
  12. ^ Bron: Statistische Jaarbrief 2011
  13. ^ a b "Religion in the beginning of the 21st century" (PDF), Central Bureau of Statistics, the Netherlands, 2009, retrieved 2012-02-14 
  14. ^ Een op de zes bezoekt regelmatig kerk of moskee CBS, 21 december 2012
  15. ^ "Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "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. 
  18. ^ a b "Hoeveel sekteleiders lopen hier rond? Ministerie wist het niet meer - Religie - TROUW". Trouw.nl. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  19. ^ "pers | Sektesignaal". Sektesignaal.nl. 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  20. ^ "Steunpunt slachtoffers misstanden bij sektes gelanceerd | Nieuwsbericht". Rijksoverheid.nl. 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  21. ^ Hans Knippenberg, "Secularization in the Netherlands in its historical and geographical dimensions," GeoJournal (1998) 45#3 pp 209-220. online
  22. ^ Tomáš Sobotka and Feray Adigüzel, "Religiosity and spatial demographic differences in the Netherlands" (2002) online
  23. ^ (Dutch) Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland, Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, September 2006
  24. ^ (Dutch) Fortuyn: grens dicht voor islamiet, Volkskrant, 2002-02-09
  25. ^ http://www.verwey-jonker.nl/doc/participatie/D0693416.pdf
  26. ^ http://www.humanistischverbond.nl/geschiedenis-humanisme
  27. ^ http://www.verwey-jonker.nl/doc/participatie/D0693416.pdf
  28. ^ a b Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, page 92
  29. ^ http://www.gh.nl/onderzoek/Lectoraat%20Zorg%20en%20Spiritualiteit/~/media/Files/Onderzoek/ZS/Diversen/20111103%20GrevelS-handout.ashx
  30. ^ "SCP-publicatie "Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland"". Web.archive.org. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hoekstra, E.G.; Ypenburg, M.H. (2000). Wegwijs in religieus en levensbeschouwelijk Nederland. Kampen: Uitgeverij Kok. ISBN 90-435-0028-3.