Church attendance – Confidence in the church – Importance of God – Traditional beliefs

Many Europeans are proud of it. Some think it is too bad. However, both agree: Europe is a secularized continent. Europeans do not go to church anymore, they do not believe in God anymore, and they do not seem to be religious at all. Are these assumptions true? It depends. Unmistakable, some of them are not. One thing is for sure: the old continent is not as secularized at it seems.


Chart Importance of God, Source: Atlas of European Values

About half of all the Europeans pray or meditate at least once a week. Three out of four Europeans say they are religious persons. Of course, there is a big gap between the more secularized north-western European countries and the more traditional south-eastern ones. However, even in a country like Holland, famous for its liberal tradition, one in four of all the inhabitants attend church. Nevertheless, one assumption is true: most European churches attract fewer believers every year. Especially in the western part of the continent, the old religious institutions are deteriorating, show analyses of the European Values Studies.

However, people who consider themselves as atheists are a small minority, except in France, where almost 15 percent say they are atheist. It is obvious that a vast majority of all the Europeans nominate themselves as religious persons. There are even more people who consider themselves as religious as there are people who attend church. It is a kind of ‘believing without belonging’. People pick and choose religious beliefs, doctrines, and practices and they are mixing and matching them, as they would select food in a cafeteria. Sociologists talk about this trend as a ‘cafeteria religion’, or as ‘church-free spirituality’. Europeans remain religious, their approach is eclectic, and they borrow ideas from several traditions. Meanwhile, many institutionalized churches, especially in the West, are running empty.


Chart Visit religious services, Source: Atlas of European Values



Chart Believing, Source: Atlas of European Values