Religion in the Netherlands: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Religious division in the Netherlands in 1849. Catholicism holds a majority in green areas. Protestantism holds a majority in red areas.

Historically the Netherlands is characterized by multitude of religions. Since the mid of the middle ages, the Netherlands was a predominantly Christian country until late into the 20th century. Although religious diversity remains to the present day, there is a major decline of religious adherence.



The Netherlands declared its independent from Spain in 1581, during the Eighty Years' War; Spain finally accepted this in 1648. The independence was partially religiously motivated: during the Reformation the Dutch had become Anabaptist, Mennonite and Calvinist forms of Protestantism. These religious movements were suppressed by the Spanish, who supported the Counter Reformation. After independence the Netherlands adopted Calvinism as a state religion, but practiced religious tolerance towards non-Calvinists. It became considerably safe for Jewish and Protestant refugees from Flanders, France (Huguenots), Germany and England (Pilgrims for instance). There have always been considerable differences between orthodox and liberal interpretations of Calvinism: between Arminianism and Gomarism in the 17th century; and between the Dutch Reformed Church and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in the late 19th century. Catholics, who dominated the southern provinces, were not allowed to practice their religion openly. They were emancipated during the late 19th and early 20th century through pillarization, by forming their own social communities. In the 20th century the major religions began to decline: most of the Dutch Jews did not survive the Holocaust; and in the 1960s and 1970s the Protestantism and Catholicism began to decline. There is one major exception: Islam which grew considerably as the result of immigration. Linked with the decline of religion is the Dutch adoption of liberal social policies towards abortion, euthanasia, prostitution and same-sex marriage. Since the year 2000 there has been raised awareness of religion, mainly due to Muslim extremism.[1]

Major Denominations


Roman Catholicism

Currently Roman Catholicism is the single largest religion of the Netherlands, forming the religious home of some 26.3 % of the Dutch people down from 40 percent in the 1970s. The number of Catholics is not only declining, but many people who identify themselves as Roman Catholics also do not regularly attend Sunday mass. Fewer than 200,000 people or 1.2 % of the Dutch population attends mass on a given Sunday. [2] Most Catholics live in the southern provinces of North Brabant and Limburg where they make up the majority of the population. Willem Jacobus Eijk is the highest Catholic authority.

Protestant Churches in the Netherlands

The Protestant Church of the Netherlands (PKN) forms the largest Protestant denomination, with some 11.4% of the population. It was formed in 2004 as a merger of the two major strands of Calvinism: the Dutch Reformed Church (which the represented roughly 8.5% of the population) and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (at that time 3.7% of the population) and a smaller Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (0.1%). Since the 1970s these three churches had seen a major decline in adherents and had begun to work together. The Church embraces religious pluralism.

A large number of Protestant churches, mostly orthodox Calvinist splits, stayed out of the PKN. They represent some 6% of the population.


A Mosque in Terborg.

Islam is a relatively new and fast-growing religion in the Netherlands, as per recent (CBS) statistics about 944.000 or 6% of the Dutch population are Muslims.[3] Islam numbers began to rise after the 1970s as the result of immigration Migrants from former Dutch colonies, such as Surinam and Indonesia, were Muslim, as well as migrant workers from Turkey and Morocco. During the 1990s, the Netherlands opened its borders for Muslim refugees from countries like Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Of the immigrant ethnic groups, 99% of Moroccans; 90% of Turks; 69% of Asians; 64% of other Africans and 12% of Surinamese were Muslims.[4] Muslims form a diverse group. Social tensions between native Dutch and migrant Muslims began to rise in the early 21st century, with the rise and murder of populist politician Pim Fortuyn by militant animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf and the murder of Theo van Gogh by an extremist Muslim, Mohammed Bouyeri.


Judaism has been present in the Netherlands for much of the country's history and several sources claim judaism arrived in the Netherlands before Christianity. Because of its social tolerance, the Dutch Republic formed a haven for Jews that were persecuted because of their beliefs throughout Europe. Prominent Dutch Jews include Baruch Spinoza, a 17th century philosopher, Aletta Jacobs, a 19th century feminist, and Henri Polak, who founded both the socialist party SDAP and the labor union NVV. The majority of Jews lived in Amsterdam, where they formed an eighth ( 90 000 ) of the population. During the Second World War a large majority of Jews were deported and murdered in the Holocaust.

Bahá'í Faith

The first mentions of the Bahá'í Faith in the Netherlands were in Dutch newspapers which in 1852 covered some of the events relating to the Bábí movement which the Bahá'í Faith regards as a precursor religion.[5] Circa 1904 Algemeen Handelsblad, an Amsterdam newspaper, sent a correspondent to investigate the Bahá'ís in Persia.[6] The first Bahá'ís to settle in the Netherlands were a couple of families — the Tijssens and Greevens, both of whom left Germany for the Netherlands in 1937 as business practices were affected by Nazi policies.[7] Following World War II the Bahá'ís established a committee to oversee introducing the religion across Europe and so the permanent growth of the community in the Netherlands begins with Bahá'í pioneers arriving in 1946.[7] Following their arrival and conversions of some citizens the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Amsterdam was elected in 1948.[8] In 1957, with 110 Bahá'ís and nine spiritual assemblies, the Bahá'í community in the Netherlands first elected its own National Spiritual Assembly.[7] In 2005 the Netherlands had 34 local spiritual assemblies.[8] In 1997 there were about 1500 Bahá'ís in The Netherlands.[9]


In the following table one can see the complexity of religion in the Netherlands: while 45% of the Dutch population is not member of any religious community, the other 55% are distributed over a diversity of religions. 43.4% of the Dutch population is affiliated with a Christian church. The largest group, 26.6%, is Roman Catholic. The rest is distributed over a multitude of Protestant churches. The largest of which is the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which in fact is an alliance of three churches, two Calvinist and one Lutheran. Some 12% of the population is member of this church. Smaller churches have either been the result of conflicts within the Calvinist Church or been imported, mainly from the United States. The remaining 10% of the population is member of another religion, including Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

It should be noted that different sources give very different percentages. [10]A 2007 research God in Nederland, based on in-depth interviews of 1132 people concluded that 61% of the Dutch are non-affiliated. Fewer than 20% attend church regularly. Similar studies were done in 1966, 1979 and 1996, showing a steady decline of religious affiliation. That this trend is likely to continue is illustrated by the fact that in the age group under 35, 69% are non-affiliated. However, those who are religious tend to be more profoundly religious than in the past. Religious belief is also regarded as a very personal affair, as is illustrated by the fact that 60% of self-described believers are not affiliated with any organised religion. There is a stronger stress on positive sides of belief, with Hell and the concept of damnation being pushed into the background. One quarter of non-believers sometimes pray, but more in a sense of meditative self-reflection.

Membership of Religious Communities according to 2004 data from a 2007 SCP report[11]
Religion Orientation Adherents Year Population (%)
Christianity 7,500,000 * 43.4 %
Catholicism 4,359,000 2006 26.6%
Catholicism Roman Catholic 4,352,000 2006 26.6%
Old Catholic Church Old Catholic 5,981 2004 0.0%
Free Catholic Church in the Netherlands Free Catholic Church 800 2004 0.0%
Protestant 3,033,831 * 16.8%
Protestant Church in the Netherlands Lutheran and Calvinist 1,944,000 2005 12%
Dutch Reformed Church in Repaired Relation Calvinist
70,000 2005 0.4%
Continued Reformed Churches Calvinist
3,900 2005 0.00024%
Christian Reformed Churches Calvinist
74,853 2005 0.46206%
Reformed Parishes Calvinist
103,272 2005 0.637481%
Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands Calvinist
21,708 2005 0.134%
Reformed Parishes (outside of relations) Calvinist
3,000 2005 0.0%
Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands (in repaired relations) Calvinist
1,250 2005 0.0%
Old Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands Calvinist
18,000 2005 0.1%
Free Old Reformed Parishes in the Netherlands Calvinist
18,000 2004 0.1%
Reformed Churches (liberated) Calvinist
125,970 2005 0.8%
Dutch Reformed Churches Calvinist
31,590 2004 0.2%
Continued Liberated Church Calvinist
1,500 2005 0.0%
Mennonite Church in the Netherlands Anabaptist
9,368 2005 0.1%
Remonstant Brotherhood Remonstrant
4,581 2005 0.0%
Union of Baptist Churches in the Netherlands Baptist
11,364 2004 0.1%
Brotherhood of Baptist Churches Baptist
4,200 2004 0.0%
Independent Free Baptist Churches Baptist
4,200 2004 0.0%
League of Free Evangelican Parishes Lutheran 5,821 2004 0.0%
Evangelican Brotherhood Lutheran 12,000 2005 0.1%
New Apostolic Church Pentecostal 11,856 2004 0.1%
Apostolic Community Pentecostal 18,673 2004 0.1%
United Pentecostal and Gospelchurches Pentecostal 19,820 2004 0.1%
Other Pentecostal Pentecostal 50,830 2004 0.4%
Anglican Church in the Netherlands Anglican 33,000 2004 0.2%
Seventh-day Adventist Church Restorationist 4,500 2004 0.0%
Gathering of Religious Dispensationalism 10,000 * 0.1%
Salvation Army Methodism 6,840 2005 0.0%
Geredja Indjili Maluku unknown 25,000 2004 0.2%
Christian Church Netherlands
(Nordic Brotherhood)
unknown 2,100 2004 0.0%
Quaker * 200 * 0.0%
Liberal Religious Community NPB * 5,338 2004 0.0%
Zwingli Union * 150 * 0.0%
Eastern Orthodox 22,000 2004 0.1%
Eastern Orthodox Orthodox 22,000 2004 0.1%
Islam 944,000 2004 5.8%
Islam Islam 944,000 2004 5.8%
Judaism 35,900 * 0.2%
Nederlands Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap Judaism 5,000 * 0.0%
Union of Religious Liberal Jews in the Netherlands Judaism 3,500 * 0.0%
Portugees-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap Judaism 600 * 0.0%
Hinduism 215,000 2004 1.3%
Hinduism Hinduism 215,000 * 1.3%
Buddhism 169,000 2004 1.0%
Buddhism Buddhism 169,000 2004 1.0%
No religious affiliation 7,230,000 * 42.7%

See also


  1. ^ Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 9055892483, pages 102-104
  2. ^ according to the Catholic University of Nijmegen institute for ecclestical statistics (KASKI) in their 2007 annual statistical update of the Dutch catholic province. website
  3. ^ Data drawn from 2007 SCP report page 34
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ de Vries 2002, pp. 18-20
  6. ^ de Vries 2002, pp. 65-69
  7. ^ a b c C. van den Hoonaard, Will (1993-11-08). "Netherlands". draft of A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith. Baha'i Library Online. Retrieved 2008-12-25.  
  8. ^ a b C. Vieten, Gunter (2006), THE DUTCH BAHA’I COMMUNITY,, retrieved 2008-12-25  
  9. ^ Hoekstra 2000, pp. 61
  10. ^ Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 9055892483, page 92
  11. ^ 2004 data drawn from 2007 SCP report
  • Hoekstra, E.G.; Ypenburg, M.H. (2000), Wegwijs in religieus en levensbeschouwelijk Nederland, Kampen: Uitgeverij Kok, ISBN 9043500283  


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address