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Further information: "Religion in Europe
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St. Peter's Basilica from "Castel Sant'Angelo showing the dome rising behind Maderno's facade.
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Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka in "Łódź, Poland.
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Religion in the European Union is a diverse matter with significant levels of belief in all "EU member states. The largest religion in the EU is "Christianity, which accounts for 72% of "EU population,[2] with its largest denominations being "Roman Catholicism, "Protestantism (especially in the north), and "Eastern Orthodoxy.[3] Smaller groups include those of "Islam, "Buddhism, "Judaism, "Hinduism, and some "East Asian religions, most concentrated in Britain and France. Also present are "revival movements of "pre-Christianity European folk religions including "Heathenism, "Rodnovery, "Romuva, and "Druidry.[4]

Over the last several decades, religious practice has been on the decline in a process of "secularisation.[5] "Eurostat's "Eurobarometer Opinion Poll showed in 2010 that 20% of EU citizens don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force.[6] Many countries have experienced falling "church attendance and membership in recent years.[7]

The countries with the most people reporting no belief in any sort of spirit, God or life force are France (40%), the Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), the Netherlands (30%), Estonia (29%), Germany (27%), Belgium (27%) and Slovenia (26%).[6] The most religious countries are Romania (1% non-believers) and Malta (2% non-believers).[6] Across the EU, belief is more common with age and is higher amongst women, those with only basic education, and those "positioning themselves on the right of the political scale (57%)".[8]

Contents

Church and state[edit]

The EU is a secular body, i.e., there is a "separation of church and state. There are no formal ties to any religion and no mention of religion in any current or proposed treaty.[9] Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon have included proposals to mention Christianity and/or God in the preamble of the text. This call has been supported by Christian religious leaders, most notably the Pope.[10] However explicit inclusion of a link to religion faced opposition from secularists and the final Constitution referred to Europe's "Religious and Humanist inheritance". A second attempt to include Christianity in the treaty was undertaken in 2007 with the drafting of the Treaty of Lisbon. "Angela Merkel promised the Pope that she would use her influence during Germany's presidency to try to include a reference to Christianity and God in the treaty. This has provoked opposition, not least in the German press,[11] and as this inclusion may have caused problems in reaching a final agreement, this attempt was given up.[12] Of the Union's 28 states, only four have an official "state religion, these being Denmark ("Church of Denmark), Greece ("Church of Greece), Malta (Roman Catholic Church) and England in the UK ("Church of England). Some other churches have a close relationship with the state.[13] Until 2000, the Church of Sweden was the state church of Sweden and while never accepting the status, the "Church of Scotland was often considered to be the Established Church in Scotland, until the position was clarified finally in Parliament in the 1920s.

In the secularising EU, "The Vatican has been vocal against a perceived "militant "atheism". It based this on a number of events, for example: the rejection of religious references in the Constitution and Treaty of Lisbon, the rejection by Parliament of "Rocco Buttiglione as "Justice Commissioner in 2004,[10] while at the same time Parliament approved "Peter Mandelson (who is gay[14]) as "Trade Commissioner, and the legalisation of "same-sex marriage in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain.[10] The European Parliament has also been calling for same-sex marriages to be recognised across the EU.[15] Meanwhile, states such as Latvia and Poland[16] have rejected legislation designed to stop discrimination against homosexuals. This has been stated to be on religious grounds, with homosexual behaviour described as "unnatural", and the Catholic Church influencing public opinion. The difference of opinion between these countries and Brussels has been damaging relations.[17][18]

Due to the rise of other religions, and some intolerance towards them, the "EU Commission now regularly meets with different religious leaders.[19] In November 2005, a delegation from the "European Humanist Federation was invited to a meeting by "Commissioner-President "Barroso. This was the first time a "humanist group had been consulted in this manner by the "Commission. President "Romano Prodi has refused such meetings, despite meeting various religious leaders, causing some resentment by humanists.[20]

"Secularisation[edit]

"Atheism and "agnosticism have increased among the general population in Europe, with falling church attendance and membership in many countries.[21][22] The countries where the most people reported no religious belief were France (40%), the Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), the Netherlands (30%), Estonia (29%), Germany (27%), Belgium (27%) and Slovenia (26%).[6] In such countries, even those who have a faith can be disdainful of organised religion.[23]["unreliable source?] The most religious societies are those in Romania with 1% non-believers and Malta with 2% non-believers. Across the EU, belief was higher among: the elderly, those with strict upbringings, those with the lowest levels of formal education, those leaning towards "right-wing politics, those questioning the meaning and purpose to life, and those more concerned with moral and ethical issues in science and technology over "risk-benefit analysis.[8]

In 2012, the highest ever number of births outside of marriage were recorded in the European Union, at 40%,[24] with first-births out of wedlock and cohabitation figures being even higher. Seven EU countries recorded a majority of births outside of marriage - "Estonia (59% in 2014[25]), "Bulgaria (58.8% in 2014[26]), "Slovenia (58.3% in 2014[27]), "France (57.4% in 2014[28]), "Sweden (54.4% in 2013[29]), "Belgium (52.3% in 2012[29]), and "Denmark (51.5% in 2013[29]). These countries tend to be some of the less religious ones.[30]

Christians by country[edit]

Christianity by country
Country Christians  % Christian  % Catholic  % Protestant/ Orthodox/ Other
 "Austria ("details) 6,100,000 70.0%[31] 59.9% 10%
 "Belgium ("details) 6,860,000 65%[32] 58%[32] 7%[32]
 "Bulgaria ("details) 6,364,000 85.0%[32] 1% 84%[32]
 "Croatia ("details) 4,107,000 90.1%[33] 86.2% 4.7%
 "Cyprus ("details) 863,000 79%[34][35] 1% 78%
 "Czech Republic ("details) 1,175,000 34%[32] 29.0%[32] 5.0%[32]
 "Denmark ("details) 4,400,754[36] 79% 1% 77.8%[37]
 "Estonia ("details) 310,000 45%[32] 3%[32] 42%[32]
 "Finland ("details) 4,109,000 [38] 74.9% [38] 74.9%
 "France ("details) 36,700,000-40,000,000 58[32]/63-66%[39] 50%[40]/54[32]-63% 4%[32]
 "Germany ("details) 50,000,000 60%[41] 29%[41] 31%[41]
 "Greece ("details) 11,000,000 89.5%[42] 1.2% 88.3%
 "Hungary ("details) 5,254,179[43]- 6,501,000[32] 52.87%[43]-65.0%[32] 38.96%[43]-58.0%[32] 13.91%[43]
 "Ireland ("details) 3,992,000 [44] 83.8% [44] 78.2% [44] 5.6% [44]
 "Italy ("details) 53,230,000[45] 83% 81.2% 2%
 "Latvia ("details) 1,570,000 70%[32]-80%[46] 24.1%[32]-25.1%[46][47] 46.8%[32]-54.9%[46]
 "Lithuania ("details) 2,827,000 81.4%[48]-86.0%[32] 77.2%[49]-80.0%[32] 5.6%-6.0%[32]
 "Luxembourg ("details) 360,000 72.4%[50] 68.7% 3.7%
 "Malta ("details) 400,000 91.6%[51] 88.6% 3.0%
 "Netherlands ("details) 5,750,000-7,900,000 34%-44%[32] 22.0%[32]-23.3%[52]- 10.2%[53]-22.0%[32]
 "Poland ("details) 36,090,000 94.3% 86.3% 8%
 "Portugal ("details) 10,110,000[54] 84.3%[55] 81.0% 3.3%
 "Romania ("details) 18,067,000 98.0%[32] 11.0%[32] 87.0%[32]
 "Slovakia ("details) 4,730,000 80.0%[32] 67.0%[32] 13.0%[32]
 "Slovenia ("details) 1,610,000 68.0%[32] 64.0%[32] 4.0%[32]
 "Spain ("details) 33,000,000 71% [56]-72%[32] 68%[32][57] 2%[32]
 "Sweden ("details) 6,292,000 65%[58] 2% 63%
 "United Kingdom ("details) 33,200,000 59.3%[59] 8.9% 50%
"Europe 565,560,000[60] 76.2%[60] 35.0%[61] 41.2%[60] -

Religiosity[edit]

Most EU countries have experienced a decline in church attendance, as well as a decline in the number of people professing belief. The 2010 Eurobarometer Poll found that, on average, 51% of the citizens of the EU Member States state that they believe there is a God, 26% state that they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force and 20% state that they don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force. 3% declined to answer.[6] According to a recent study ("Dogan, Mattei, Religious Beliefs in Europe: Factors of Accelerated Decline), 47% of French people declared themselves as agnostics in 2003. The situation of religion varies between countries in European Union. A decrease in religiousness and church attendance in Western Europe (especially in the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic) has been noted and called "Post-Christian Europe". Also, in the most populous Eastern European country and EU Member State Poland there has been a sharp reduction in church attendance since 2005, although with 41.5% in 2009[62] it is still well above the single digit figures that are so typical for Sunday mass attendance in other EU countries.

Belief in God, spirit/life force, or no belief per country (Eurobarometer 2010)
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Belief in God.
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Belief in spirit or life force.
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No belief at all.

The following is a list of European countries ranked by religiosity, based on rates of belief, according to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll. The 2010 Eurobarometer Poll asked whether the person believes "there is a God", believes "there is some sort of spirit or life force" or "doesn't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".

Eurobarometer Poll 2010[6]
Country "I believe
there is a God"
"I believe there is some
sort of spirit or life force"
"I don't believe there is any sort
of spirit, God or life force"
"Declined to answer"
"Malta "Malta 94% 4% 2% 0%
"Romania "Romania 92% 7% 1% 0%
"Cyprus "Cyprus 88% 8% 3% 1%
"Greece "Greece 79% 16% 4% 1%
"Poland "Poland 79% 14% 5% 2%
"Italy "Italy 74% 20% 6% 0%
"Republic of Ireland "Ireland 70% 20% 7% 3%
"Portugal "Portugal 70% 15% 12% 3%
"Croatia "Croatia 69% 22% 7% 2%
"Slovakia "Slovakia 63% 23% 13% 1%
"Spain "Spain 59% 20% 19% 2%
"Lithuania "Lithuania 47% 37% 12% 4%
"Luxembourg "Luxembourg 46% 22% 24% 8%
"Hungary "Hungary 45% 34% 20% 1%
"Austria "Austria 44% 38% 12% 6%
"Germany "Germany 44% 25% 27% 4%
"Latvia "Latvia 38% 48% 11% 3%
"United Kingdom "United Kingdom 37% 33% 25% 5%
"Belgium "Belgium 37% 31% 27% 5%
"Bulgaria "Bulgaria 36% 43% 15% 6%
"Finland "Finland 33% 42% 22% 3%
"Slovenia "Slovenia 32% 36% 26% 6%
"Denmark "Denmark 28% 47% 24% 1%
"Netherlands "Netherlands 28% 39% 30% 3%
"France "France 27% 27% 40% 6%
"Estonia "Estonia 18% 50% 29% 3%
"Sweden "Sweden 18% 45% 34% 3%
"Czech Republic "Czech Republic 16% 44% 37% 3%
"European Union "EU28 51% 26% 20% 3%
Eurobarometer Poll 2012[1] Christian Denominations in the EU
Country Catholic Orthodox Protestant Other Christian Total Christians
"Austria "Austria 77% 2% 7% 0% 86%
"Belgium "Belgium 58% 1% 2% 4% 65%
"Bulgaria "Bulgaria 1% 82% 1% 1% 85%
"Cyprus "Cyprus 2% 96% 0% 1% 99%
"Czech Republic "Czech Republic 29% 0% 2% 3% 33%
"Denmark "Denmark 1% 0% 64% 6% 71%
"Estonia "Estonia 3% 17% 6% 19% 45%
"Finland "Finland 1% 1% 70% 10% 82%
"France "France 54% 0% 3% 1% 58%
"Germany "Germany 31% 2% 30% 2% 65%
"Greece "Greece 1% 96% 0% 0% 97%
"Hungary "Hungary 58% 0% 7% 6% 71%
"Republic of Ireland "Ireland 88% 1% 2% 1% 92%
"Italy "Italy 90% 0% 1% 1% 92%
"Latvia "Latvia 24% 20% 13% 12% 69%
"Lithuania "Lithuania 84% 3% 1% 2% 90%
"Luxembourg "Luxembourg 68% 1% 3% 3% 75%
"Malta "Malta 95% 0% 1% 0% 96%
"Netherlands "Netherlands 22% 0% 15% 7% 44%
"Poland "Poland 91% 1% 0% 0% 92%
"Portugal "Portugal 88% 1% 1% 3% 93%
"Romania "Romania 5% 87% 3% 3% 98%
"Slovakia "Slovakia 69% 0% 5% 4% 78%
"Slovenia "Slovenia 64% 3% 0% 1% 68%
"Spain "Spain 67% 1% 1% 2% 71%
"Sweden "Sweden 2% 1% 41% 8% 52%
"United Kingdom "United Kingdom 15% 1% 23% 19% 58%
"European Union "EU27 48% 8% 12% 4% 72%

Diversity[edit]

Judaism has had a long, and frequently dark, history in Europe. Prior to "the Holocaust, the area of the European Union had a Jewish population of 5,375,000; it was largely exterminated in German Nazi death camps. In 2002 the EU had a "Jewish population of barely over a million, including about 519,000 in France and about 273,500 in the United Kingdom (compare with about 5.8 million Jews living in Israel.[63]). In view of the "history of persecution of "Jews in Europe, "antisemitism remains a matter of attention within the EU.[64]

Immigration has increasingly introduced religions not originally of significant adherence into Europe, most notably Islam. It was estimated that the Union's Muslim population in 2009 was 13 million people.[65] The country with the largest number of Muslims in western Europe is believed to be France with an estimated 6–7 million (though the French census does not ask religious questions) followed by Germany (4.5 million), the United Kingdom (2.7 million)[66] and Italy (1.5 million).[67] Aside from Turkey, the only possible future member to have a majority of Muslims is Albania, although other Balkan states like "Bosnia and Macedonia also have sizeable Muslim populations.[67] Kosovo is also a Muslim majority area. A series of clashes and incidents connected to the religion have occurred in recent years, including: the murder of "Theo van Gogh by "Mohammed Bouyeri, the "2004 Madrid train bombings, the "Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy with continuing attempts to kill the cartoonist, and numerous terrorist attacks in the UK such as the "7 July 2005 London bombings.[68] In response to Islamic extremism, some figures, such as "Justice Freedom & Security Commissioner "Franco Frattini, have suggested creating a ""European Islam" – a branch of the Islamic faith that is compatible with European values.[69]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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