Religious devotion among the Dutch

23/12/2002 10:00

Six out of ten people living in the Netherlands in 2001 said they belonged to a religious denomination. The number of people who actually went to church was much smaller. One third of the Dutch population visited a church or mosque on a regular basis. People with a Calvinist protestant faith went to church most regularly.

Secularisation stabilised

In 2001 some six out of ten of the Dutch population aged 18 and older said they belonged to some sort of faith, the same proportion as ten years previously. At the time of the last general census, in 1971, three-quarters of the population said they belonged to a religion, and 150 years ago everyone in the country said they had a religious or philosophical faith.

Religious denomination, 1971–2001

Four out of ten people non-denominational

In 2001 30 percent of people aged over 18 said they were Roman Catholic, 14 percent belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church and 7 percent to the Calvinist Church. Another ten percent belonged to other faiths, including the Islam. Forty percent of the population said they did not belong to a religious denomination.

One third of the population attend church or mosque

Belonging to a faith does not necessarily mean that someone actually goes to church on a regular basis. In 2001 two-thirds of the population attended church or mosque services hardly or not at all. Just over twenty percent attended a religious service at least once a month. The group of regular churchgoers, those who go to church at least once a week, accounted for 12 percent of the population.

More women and elderly people go to church

There are relatively many women, older people, people with lower educational levels and people living in more rural areas among those belonging to a religious denomination and those actually going to church.

Church attendance by religious denomination

Calvinists most loyal churchgoers

Church attendance has fallen most among Roman Catholics in the last 25 years. In 1977, 58 percent of Catholics went to church at least once a month, by 2001 this had dropped to 29 percent. For the Dutch Reformed Church the proportion of monthly churchgoers fell less sharply. The Calvinists have remained most loyal: the proportion of churchgoers fell from 86 percent in 1977 to 66 percent in 2001.

Miriam van Baal