Religion in Denmark
Of all the religions in Denmark, the most prominent is Christianity in the form of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (Dansk Folkekirke), the state religion. Hence, Denmark is not a secular state as there is a clear link between the church and the state with a Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs. However, pockets of virtually all faiths can be found among the population. The second largest faith is Islam, due to immigration since 1980. In general, however, Danes consider themselves to be secular, and church attendance is generally low.
According to the latest Eurobarometer, as of 2015, 78.2% of Danish people are Christians (67.4% are Protestant, 2.0% are Orthodox and 1.3 are Catholics), 19.7% are non-religious and 2.1% are members of other religions.
According to a Eurobarometer Poll conducted in 2010, 28% of Danish citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", 47% responded that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 24% responded that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force". Another poll, carried out in 2008, found that 25% of Danes believe Jesus is the son of God, and 18% believe he is the saviour of the world. A gallup report in 2009 found that only 19% of Danes consider religion to be an important part of their life.
Less than 20% of the Danish population identifies as atheist. Phil Zuckerman, an American professor of sociology, after spending 14 months in Sweden and Denmark talking to hundreds of people about religion, reported that they were “often disinclined or hesitant to talk with [prof. Zuckerman] about religion, and even once they agreed to do so, they usually had very little to say on the matter.”
|Statistical data: 1984, 1990-2017, Source: Kirkeministeriet|
Christianity is the predominant religion of Denmark, with three quarters of the Danish population estimated as adherents of the "Folkekirken" ("People's Church"), Denmark's national Lutheran church. Aside from Lutheranism, there is a small Catholic minority, as well as small Protestant denominations such as the Baptist Union of Denmark and the Reformed Synod of Denmark.
According to official statistics from January 2017, 75.9% of the population of Denmark are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (Den danske folkekirke), the country's state church since the Reformation in Denmark–Norway and Holstein, and designated "the Danish people's church" by the 1848 Constitution of Denmark.
A 2015 study estimates some 4,000 Christian believers from a Muslim background in the country, most of them belonging to some form of Protestantism.
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A Jewish community has been present in Denmark since the seventeenth century, when the monarchs began allowing Jews to enter the country and practice their religion on an individual basis. Emancipation followed gradually and by the end of the nineteenth century most Jews were fully assimilated into Danish society. In the early decades of the twentieth century there was an influx of more secular, Yiddish speaking, Eastern European Jews. Nearly 99% of Danish Jews survived the Holocaust, in part due to the actions of the Danish resistance, and to the Swedish authorities' offer of asylum to the Danish Jews.
Today there are approximately 10,000 ethnic Jews in Denmark, and three synagogues located in Copenhagen.
Denmark's Muslims make up approximately 3% of the population and form the country's second largest religious community and largest minority religion. As of 2009 there are nineteen recognised Muslim communities in Denmark. Ahmadi Muslims constructed the first mosque in the capital, Copenhagen. There were approximately 600 Ahmadis all over Denmark in 2006.
According to a survey of various religions and denominations undertaken by the Danish Foreign Ministry, other religious groups comprise less than 1% of the population individually and approximately 2% when taken all together.
The Baha'i Faith arrived in Denmark in 1925, but it did not make much impact until the arrival of American pioneers in 1946. A National Spiritual Assembly was formed in 1962. In 2005, it was estimated that there were about 1,251 Baha'is in the country.
Buddhism in Denmark was brought back from expeditions that explored the Indian subcontinent. Initial interest was mainly from intellectuals, authors, Buddhologists and Philologists. In 1921, Christian F. Melbye founded the first Buddhist Society in Denmark, but it was later dissolved in 1950 before his death in 1953. In the 1950s, there was a revival in interest towards Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism and Hannah and Ole Nydahl, founded the first Karma Kagyu Buddhist centers in Copenhagen. The third wave of Buddhism came in the 1980s, when refugees from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and China came to Denmark.
A neopagan religious group, Forn Siðr — Ásatrú and Vanatrú Association in Denmark, describes itself as a revival of the Norse paganism prevalent in Denmark before Christianization. It gained state recognition in November 2003. There are about 500 registered heathens (0.01% of the population) adhering to the old Norse beliefs.
Politics and government
Politicians in Denmark will not generally be found making use of any religious rhetoric or arguments in their declarations, and this is especially the case for government ministers, with the possible, occasional exception of the Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs in the course of his or her duties. Four of Denmark's prime ministers have identified themselves as atheists.
The Christian Democrats is the only major political party to regularly employ religious rhetoric and arguments, and they have not been represented in the Folketing since 2001, as they have not been able to acquire the minimum 2% of the votes needed to secure a seat.
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The Constitution of Denmark contains a number of sections related to religion.
- §4 establishes the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark as the state church of Denmark.
- §6 requires the Danish monarch to be a member of the state church.
- §67 grants freedom of worship.
- §68 states that no one is required to personally contribute to any form of religion other than his own. As state subsidies are not considered personal contributions the Church of Denmark receives subsidies - according to §4 - beyond the church tax paid by the members of the church. The Church of Denmark is the only religious group to receive direct financial support from the state. Other religious groups can receive indirect support through tax deductions on contributions.
- §70 grants freedom of religion by ensuring civil and political rights can not be revoked due to race or religious beliefs. It further states race and religious beliefs can not be used to be exempt from civil duties.
- §71 ensures no one can be imprisoned due to religious beliefs.
- Christianization of Scandinavia
- Buddhism in Denmark
- Bahá'í Faith in Denmark
- Islam in Denmark
- History of the Jews in Denmark
- Hinduism in Denmark
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