The Least Religious Country: Estonia

From the Guardian:

Estonians, and especially the young, have turned their backs on organised religion, but belief in neo-paganism is thriving.


Estonia and the Czech Republic are the two nations that often claim to be the least religious in Europe. And they seem to be proud of their unbelief. According to the census of 2000, 29% of the total population considered themselves as adherents of some religion. Almost 14% of them were Lutherans (in the 1930s the percentage of Lutherans was over 80), and about 13% Orthodox Christians divided between two churches: one under the canonical jurisdiction of ecumenical patriarchate and the other under the jurisdiction of Moscow patriarchate.

A Eurobarometer poll in 2005 found that only 16% of the Estonian population believed in God. With this number, Estonia hit the bottom of the list. However, at the same time more than half the population (54%) believed in some sort of spirit or life force. Thus it could be claimed that 70% of the Estonian population are believers, at least in some sense of the word. Professor Grace Davie’s description of the British religiosity as “believing without belonging” seems to fit to the Estonian context as well.

The churches are on Sundays mostly empty and the ignorance of religion is widespread. According to the available statistics and surveys, the membership of religious associations in Estonia remains under one fifth of the total population.

Churches in America are mostly empty on Sundays too- so American ‘religiosity’ is in name only (else we wouldn’t have the world’s worst murder rate).  Anyway, I’m not at all convinced that the Estonians and Czech’s should be proud of the fact that their populations are pagan.  Rather, it’s something to be ashamed of.

2 thoughts on “The Least Religious Country: Estonia

  1. “Churches in America are mostly empty on Sundays too”.

    The pentecostal mega churches always seem to be full, from what I hear. And many Catholic parishes have 3+ Masses on Sat & Sun as there is a need. I guess only some churches are empty.


    • well first of all mega churches are churches in name only. theyre really entertainment, like sporting events or movie theaters. so what they have in terms of folk showing up is irrelevant. and the fact that catholic churches have multiple masses each sunday is meaningless. it has nothing to do with crowds and everything to do with the ‘convenience’ of the attendees.


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