Church attendance in decline

23/12/2013 15:00

Last year, 16 percent in the population attended religious services in churches, mosques or went to other religious meetings on a regular basis. Yet, more than half of adults in the Dutch population perceive themselves as members of a religious denomination or philosophical creed.

One quarter are Roman Catholics

A small majority of 54 percent in the adult Dutch population defined themselves as religious in 2012 versus 60 percent in 1999.

More than one quarter (27 percent) are Roman Catholics. Altogether, 18 percent are Protestants: 8 percent are Dutch Reformed, 4 percent are Calvinists and 6 percent belong to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN). Another 4 percent are Muslims and 6 percent belong to another religious denomination or philosophical creed.

Population aged 18 years and older by religious denomination

Population aged 18 years and older by religious denomination

One in six are regular churchgoers

Last year, 16 percent of adults regularly went to a church, mosque or other religious meeting at least once a month versus one quarter in 1999. Church attendance declined notably among older people: among 55 to 65-year-olds from 33 to 16 percent and among 65 to 75-year-olds from 39 to 22 percent. The decline is far less substantial among 18 to 34-year-olds; 12 percent attend religious services on a regular basis. Church attendance among 35 to 64-year-olds is marginally higher.

The downward trend with respect to church attendance is not found among people with a non-western background. Three in ten attend religious services at least once a month, approximately as many as 15 years ago. The attendance frequency in this ethnic group is twice as high as among native Dutch.

Attend religious services at least once a month

Attend religious services at least once a month

Calvinists are the most dedicated churchgoers

The attendance frequency varies widely by denomination. Calvinists and PKN members appear to be the most dedicated churchgoers: approximately 60 percent go to church at least once a month. In the Muslim population in the Netherlands, 39 percent worship regularly. With 25 and 18 percent respectively, the proportions of regular churchgoers are much lower among Dutch Reformed and Roman Catholics.

Attendance religious services by denomination, 2012

Attendance religious services by denomination, 2012

Hans Schmeets