Religion in Austria

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Religion in Austria (2014)

  Roman Catholicism (61.4%)
  Protestantism (4%)
  Islam (6%)
  Other or none (22.5%)

Christianity is the predominant religion in Austria. At the 2001 census, 73.6% of the country's population was Roman Catholic.[1] As of 2012, the number of Catholics has dropped to about 63.4% of the population.[2][3] In 2014, the number of Catholics dropped by another 1% to 61.4% of the total Austrian population.[3] There is a much smaller group of Lutherans, totaling about 4.7% of the population in 2001, 3.7% in 2012.[4] Since the 2001 census, these two historically dominant religious groups in Austria recorded losses in the number of adherents. The Roman Catholic Church reported a drop of ~10%, the Lutheran Church of ~1%.

In contrast, the number of Muslims in Austria has increased in recent years, and with 4.2% of the population calling themselves Muslim in 2001, up to around 5% to 6.2% in 2010.[5][6] Orthodox churches have also grown to represent 2.2% of the population. Both the communities are represented by recent immigrants, especially from Turkey and the Balkans. There are also minor communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, and other religions in Austria.[7][8]


Main denominations in Austria[9][10]
year population Catholics percentage Lutherans[11] percentage
1951 6,933,905 6,170,084 89.0 % 429,493 6.2%
1961 7,073,807 6,295,075 89.0 % 438,663 6.2%
1971 7,491,526 6,548,316 87.4 % 447,070 6,0%
1981 7,555,338 6,372,645 84.3 % 423,162 5,6%
1991 7,795,786 6,081,454 78.0 % 338,709 5.0%
2001 8,032,926 5,915,421 73.6 % 376,150 4.7%
2005 8,250,000 5,662,782 68.5 % -
2008 8,350,000 5,579,493 66.8 % 328,346 3.9%
2009 8,376,761[12] 5,533,517 66.0 % 325,314[13] 3.9%
2010 8,387,742[12] 5,452,734[14] 65.0 % 323,863[4] 3.9%
2011 8,430,558[12] 5,403,722[14] 64.1 % 319,752[4] 3.8%
2012 8,451,860[12] 5,359,151[15] 63.4 % 313,289[16] 3.7%
2013 8,507,786[12] 5,310,000[15] 62.4 %
2014 8,579,747[12] 5,265,757[17] 61.4 %

Austria was greatly affected by the Protestant reformation, to the point a big part of the population became Protestant. The prominent position of the Habsburgs in the Counter-Reformation, however, saw Protestantism all but wiped out, restoring Catholicism as the dominant religion once more. The significant Jewish population (around 200,000 in 1938), mainly residing in Vienna, was reduced to just a couple of thousand through mass emigration in 1938 (more than 2/3 of the Jewish population emigrated from 1938 until 1941), and the following Holocaust during the Nazi period. Immigration in more recent years, primarily from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, has led to an increased number of Muslims and Serbian Orthodox Christians.[8] As in other European countries, there has been a growth of Pagan movements in Austria in recent years.

Changes in church adherence and attendance[edit]

Since the second half of the 20th century, the number of churchgoers has dropped. Data for the end of 2005 from the Austrian Roman Catholic church lists 5,662,782 members or 68.5% of the total Austrian population, and a Sunday church attendance of 753,701 or 9% of the total Austrian population.[18]

Data for the end of 2014 published by the Austrian Roman Catholic church shows a further reduction to 5,265,757 members or 61.4% of the total Austrian population, and a Sunday church attendance of 582,262 or nearly 7% of the total Austrian population.[3]

The Lutheran church also recorded a significant drop in adherents between 2001 and 2011, refer table to the right.

According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll,[19] based on a limited sample:

  • 44% of Austrian citizens responded "they believe there is a God".
  • 38% answered "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force".
  • 12% answered "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".


Letzehof Buddhist Monastery at Feldkirch, in Vorarlberg.
St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.
The Lutheran Christuskirche (Church of Christ) in Salzburg.
A mosque in Telfs.
The Temple of Apollo at Hundstalsee, built by local artists in honour of the Greek god Apollo.


Main article: Buddhism in Austria

Buddhism is a legally recognized religion in Austria and it is followed by thousands of people. Although still small in absolute numbers (10,402 at the 2001 census), Buddhism enjoys widespread acceptance in Austria. A majority of Buddhists in the country are Austrian nationals (some of them naturalized after immigration from Asia, predominantly from China and Vietnam), while a considerable number of them are foreign nationals.

As in most European countries, different branches and schools of Buddhism are represented by groups of varying sizes. Vienna not only has the largest number of foreign residents, but is also the place with the longest tradition of Buddhism in the country. Most of Austria's Buddhist temples and centres of practice can be found there; some with a specific Chinese, Vietnamese, Tibetan or Japanese appearance. The latest development has been the establishment of a "Buddhist cemetery" around a stupa-like building for funeral ceremonies at the Vienna Central Cemetery.


Roman Catholicism[edit]

Roman Catholicism is the largest religion in Austria, representing 62.4% of the population (as per the end of 2013).[15] The Catholic Church's governing body in Austria is the Austrian Conference of Catholic Bishops, made up of the hierarchy of the two archbishops (Wien, Salzburg), the bishops and the abbot of territorial abbey of Wettingen-Mehrerau. Nevertheless, each bishop is independent in his own diocese, answerable only to the Pope. The current president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops is Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. Schönborn belongs to the Central European noble family of Schönborn. Although Austria has no primate, the archbishop of Salzburg is titled Primus Germaniae (Primate of Germany).

Main article: Call to Disobedience

The organization Call to Disobedience (Aufruf zum Ungehorsam in German) is an Austrian movement mainly composed of dissident Catholic priests which started in 2006. The movement claims the support of the majority of Austrian Catholic priests and favors ordination of women, married and non-celibate priesthood, allowing Holy Communion to remarried divorcees and non-Catholics in contrast to teachings of the Catholic Magisterium.

Orthodox Christianity[edit]

Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches grew over the last decades due to the coming of South Slavic immigrants from the Balkans to Austria. The largest group of Eastern Orthodox in Austria are Serbs. The churches claim to have "up to 450.000 adherents", between 5 and 6 % of the Austrian population.[20]


Once the second largest Christian religion in the country, Lutheranism in Austria has undergone a sharp decline due to a loss in members, and as of 2013 the 313,289 Lutherans constitute 3.7% of the total population.[4] The Reformed Church in Austria, a Calvinist body, has roughly 13,590 members.


Main article: Islam in Austria

Due to immigration, especially from the Balkans and Turkey, the number of Muslims in Austria has grown exponentially over the latest decades, with Muslims accounting for ~7% of the total population as of 2010, up from 4.2% in 2001.[6]


Main article: Hinduism in Austria

Hinduism is a minority religion in Austria, and according to the 2001 census, it was the religion of 3629 people. Since 1998, the 'Hindu Community in Austria' (HRÖ), the official representative of Hindus in Austria, has been able to call itself an 'Official registered confessional community', yet does not enjoy full legal recognition from the state.[21]


Austria has seen a growth of Pagan movements in recent years, especially Druidic (Druidentum), but also Germanic Heathen (Heidentum), Wiccan and Witchcraft (Hexentum) groups. As of 2010 Austrian motorway authorities have been hiring Druids for geomantic works intended to reduce the number of accidents on the worst stretches of Austrian speedways.[22][23]

Celtic Neopaganism and Neo-Druids are particularly popular in Austria, by virtue of Austria being the location of the proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture. The Keltendorf in Diex, Kärnten combines archaeological reconstruction with "European geomancy". The Europäische Keltische Gemeinschaft has been active since 1998.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Religion in Austria on CIA World Factbook". Retrieved December 13, 2006. 
  2. ^ Kirchenaustritte gingen 2012 um elf Prozent zurück
  3. ^ a b c Kirchenstatistik, abgerufen am 13. Jänner 2015
  4. ^ a b c d "Zahlen & Fakten". 2010-12-31. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  5. ^ How many Muslims live in Austria
  6. ^ a b Islam in Österreich
  7. ^ "Religion in Austria on CIA World Factbook". Retrieved April 21, 2007. 
  8. ^ a b "Religion in Austria on Sacred Destinations". Retrieved April 21, 2007. 
  9. ^ pdf
  10. ^ Medienreferat der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz / "Statistics Catholic Church in Austria 2003–2008". Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  11. ^ "Statistical Data 2001–2008 in German". 31 December 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2010. [dead link]
  12. ^ a b c d e f Austrian Population 4. Quarter 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  13. ^ "Bischof Bünker: "Jeder Austritt ist einer zu viel."". 19 January 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010. [dead link]
  14. ^ a b kathweb Kirchenstatistik, abgerufen am 10. Jänner 2012
  15. ^ a b c [1]
  16. ^
  17. ^ Statistics of the Catholic Church in Austria retrieved 13. January 2015
  18. ^ "Kirchliche Statistik der Diozösen Österreichs (Katholiken, Pastoraldaten) für das Jahr 2005". Retrieved April 21, 2007. 
  19. ^ Eurobarometer Biotechnology report 2010 p.383
  20. ^ Wepage of the Austrian orthodox churches retrieved 21. September 2015
  21. ^
  22. ^ Druids cut death toll with divine intervention. The Telegraph.
  23. ^ Motorway druids tackle road accidents. Austrian Times.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reingrabner, Gustav (1999), "Austria", in Fahlbusch, Erwin, Encyclopedia of Christianity 1, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, pp. 168–172, ISBN 0802824137 

External links[edit]