Irreligion in Sweden

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Sweden is one of the world's most secular and irreligious nations,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] partly because many Swedish people define themselves as irreligious but spiritual people.[11] Phil Zuckerman, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College,[12] writes that several academic sources have in recent years placed atheism rates in Sweden between 46% and 85%, with one source reporting that only 17% of respondents self-identified as "atheist".[13]

Sweden's official website asserts that just three out of 10 Swedes state that they have confidence in the church. The article lists the following facts about religion in Sweden:

  • Only 1 in 10 Swedes thinks religion is important in daily life.
  • Only 1 in 10 Swedes has trust in a religious leader.[14]

Statistics from the Church of Sweden states that:

  • Under 5 out of 10 children are christened in the church.[15]
  • Around 1 out of 3 weddings take place in church.[15]
  • Around 3 out of 4 Swedes have Christian burials.[15]

Many Swedes attend church due to traditional or cultural reasons, but are otherwise not practicing Christians. One poll found that only 15% of Church of Sweden members actually believe in Jesus.[16]

Relatedly, the Swedish government has passed several secular reforms over the years; a legal opt-out of the previously mandatory 1.1% church tax was allowed in 1951, automatic birthright membership in the Church of Sweden - the organization's enrollment practice since the 1850s - ended in 1996, and the Church of Sweden was formally separated from the state in 2000, leaving Sweden as "the only Nordic country without a state church".[17][18][19]


  1. ^ "DOES SWEDEN DISCRIMINATE AGAINST CHRISTIANS?". Vice. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  2. ^ Phil Zuckerman. "Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  3. ^ "Swedish church losing 1 million members by 2020". Local. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  4. ^ "Swedish Church members 'don't believe in Jesus'". Local. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  5. ^ "Evolutionary Psychology: Original Article/Essay" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  6. ^ "Beliefs about God across Time and Countries" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  7. ^ "Atheism and Secularity - Google Books". 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  8. ^ "What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common". Gallup. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  9. ^ "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  10. ^ "Beliefs about God across Time and Countries" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  11. ^ "Scandinavian Nonbelievers, Which Is Not to Say Atheist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  12. ^ "Phil Zuckerman, Professor of Sociology - Faculty Profiles - Pitzer College". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  13. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2006). "Atheism—Contemporary numbers and Practices". In Michael Martin. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 47–50. ISBN 0-521-84270-0. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 
  14. ^ "Only one in ten Swedes trusts religious leaders". Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c "Svenska kyrkan i siffror". Svenska kyrkan (in Swedish). 
  16. ^ "Swedish Church members 'don't believe in Jesus' - The Local". Retrieved 2016-01-28. 
  17. ^ "Swedes End Long Union Of Church And State". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1995-12-31. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  18. ^ "Sweden 'least religious' nation in Western world". The Local. 2015-04-13. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  19. ^ Scott Sutherland (2015-08-28). "10 fundamentals of religion in Sweden". Swedish Institute. Retrieved 2016-01-27.