Sorry God, Danes are just not that into you

Nearly one in every fifth Dane identifies as an atheist, new poll shows

As church pews continue to sit empty due to dwindling church membership, the number of atheists in Denmark now make up nearly 20 percent of the population.

 

A new survey carried out by market researcher TNS Gallup for Berlingske newspaper revealed that almost every fifth Dane identifies as an atheist.

 

Ina Rosen, a sociologist specialising in modern beliefs and religion, was surprised by the high amount of atheists, but agreed that traditional religions were losing members.

 

"We know that religion has become uncool and has a formal character that does not sit well with modern people," Rosen told Berlingske. "Most people need something that requires less dedication."

 

People still believe in something greater
Rosen went on to argue that there is still a great interest for the existential and philosophic questions. Most people still seek to find meaning in their lives and believe in something greater than themselves.

 

"But today, people see a difference between faith and religion and faith can easily function without the traditional religious context," Rosen said. "People would rather create their own faith package or practice their faith without any framework."

 

The figures back up Rosen’s remarks. In January 2013, Statistics Denmark found that while 79.1 percent of the population of Denmark are members of the Church of Denmark (folkekirken), just three percent of the population regularly attends church services.

 

Church membership down
This summer, the atheist association Ateistisk Selskab, successfully campaigned to have a religion-free area set up in a Copenhagen cemetery, where people can be buried without religious symbols and rituals.

 

Meanwhile, the city has closed a number of churches due to a decline in attendance.

 

"We see that there are empty pews in church because what the church offers does not really have any direct relevance to the lives of modern people, so why should they even go there?," Rosen asked.

 

According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 16 percent of the world's population – 1.1 billion people – are atheists, making atheism the third-largest 'belief' on the planet.




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