National Church Loses Congregants By The Thousands

12.4.2011
Words by Paul Fontaine
New data from Statistics Iceland shows church participation continuing to wane, as thousands de-registered from the national church last year.

Vísir reports that adult congregants in the national church number some 183,697, or 77.2% of the country. By contrast, 89.9% of Icelanders were registered in the national church in 1998.

Nonetheless, the national church remains the largest religious group in the country. In distant second is the Catholic church, which has some 6,366 congregants over the age of 18.

Those who are registered outside of any religious organisation are increasing. 11,868 were so registered, a jump from 8,483 just one year previous. Among those registering themselves with a religious group for the first time, the Catholic church is in the lead, possibly due to the fact that the largest immigrant group in Iceland is comprised of Poles.

A series of controversies last year that centred around the national church and how it has dealt with cases of sexual abuse within its walls led to a number of people de-registering from the church. Statistics Iceland now reports that 5,092 left the church last year alone.

More exact information can be found on the Statistics Iceland website (in Icelandic).
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