SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Religion has become a minority pursuit in the Netherlands as the number of people identifying with a religious faith has dropped below 50% for the first time, according to official figures.
Statistics Netherlands found 49.3% of people identified with a faith community in 2017, compared to 54% when the figures were last compiled in 2012. Roman Catholics remain the largest religious group, comprising 24% of the population, while 6% of Dutch people identified as Protestant and 5% as Muslim.
Other religions, including Judaism and Buddhism, accounted for a further 6%. The figures also recorded a continued decline in church going, with 75% of people saying they never or rarely attended a religious service and just 10% going to their church or mosque on a weekly basis.
However, the rate of decline slowed and was largely confined to the Catholic community, with Protestant and Muslim attendance showing no fall in numbers.
Religious observance was more common among the elderly, with 71% of over-75s declaring a religious belief and one in three attending services regularly.
Nearly two-thirds with only a basic education (64%) said they believed in God while 20% were churchgoers. The figures for university graduates were 37% and 12% respectively. (DutchNews)