Fewer churchgoers, especially among Catholics

03/10/2014 15:00

Church attendance is declining in the Netherlands. Catholics in particular have been going to church less in recent years. In spite of this, over half of the population say they belong to a religion or believe in a certain ideology.

One quarter of population are Catholic

In 2013, 53 percent of the Dutch population said they were religious. This was down from just under 55 percent in 2010. One quarter are Catholic, they still account for the largest group of religious people. Sixteen percent are Protestant:  7 percent belong to the Dutch Reformed Church, 4 percent to the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, and 5 percent to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN). A further 5 percent are Muslim and 5 percent say they have another religion or ideology, including Jewish (0.1 percent), Hindu (0.6 percent) and Buddhist (0.4 percent).

Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and PKN have most regular churchgoers

Seventeen percent of over-18s in the Netherlands went to church, a mosque or another religious meeting at least once a month in 2013.  Members of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the PKN were the most faithful churchgoers: around 60 percent went to church at least once a month. In the Muslim community, 38 percent are regular mosque-goers. Attendance rates are much lower for the Dutch Reformed Church (30 percent) and especially for Catholics (17 percent). For Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, the percentage of religious service attendance is around 20. Church attendance has been declining only among Catholics since 2010: from 21 to 17 percent.

Churchgoers per municipality, 2010/2013

Churchgoers per municipality, 2010/2013

Nearly everyone in Urk goes to church

There are large regional differences in both the share of people who say they belong to a religious denomination and the frequency of church attendance. 
The provinces Zeeland and Overijssel top the list, with a quarter of the population attending church, mosque or synagogue regularly. Zeeland is the only province where slightly more people have been going to church since 2010, while in Limburg and Drenthe in particular, church attendance has been under increasing pressure. In North Holland and North Brabant, only 12 percent of the population go to a religious service regularly.

The differences between church attendance rates are larger at municipal level. The highest rates (30 percent or more) are in the Bible Belt municipalities, an almost continuous strip of municipalities from Zeeland in the southwest of the country to north Overijssel in the east.
There were thirteen municipalities where over half of adults went to church regularly in the period 2010-2013, in Urk (Flevoland) this attendance rate was even 94 percent.
The shares of non-religious are relatively low in municipalities in Limburg. In Urk only 2 percent of inhabitants are not religious.

Non-religious inhabitants per municipality, 2010/2013

Non-religious inhabitants per municipality, 2010/2013