Trends in religion in the Netherlands
Some Dutch people believe that the ties with our religious
tradition are loosening and leading the Netherlands to a collective
loss of religious memory. Others believe that those views are
driven too much by an outmoded view of religion, and argue that all
manner of alternative forms of spirituality are flourishing and
that a new interpretation of religion is emerging. This report
explores both these perspectives: the changes in the traditional,
church-based religion and the popularity of new spiritual values.
Is the process of secularisation and erosion of traditional Christian beliefs continuing? Do the Dutch still adhere to religion, religious customs and religious communities? Does the Church still have any social relevance? Does secularisation mean that religion is disappearing from Dutch society? Or is it now located elsewhere, far away from church buildings? And do generational differences play a role? Does the Netherlands occupy a special position within Europe or the world on these questions? This report attempts to provide more clarity on all these questions and assumptions. It constitutes an update of the findings presented in a previous report on religious change in the Netherlands (Zwevende gelovigen).
Based on research carried out over a series of years, this report describes the current status of religion and spirituality in the Netherlands, of religion within and outside the Church.
Joep de Hart is a member of the Participation, Culture and Living Environment research sector at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research¦SCP and a professor occupying the Kerk en Wereld (‘Church and the World’) chair at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam. His research interests focus on religion and civil society.