English title: Religion: Not declining but changing: What do the population censuses and surveys say about religion in Estonia?

Author(s): Ringo Ringvee -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2014


This paper investigates religious affiliation in Estonia, considered to be one of the most secularized countries in the world and in which less than one third of the population affiliates with a religion on population censuses. Firstly, the article scrutinizes these data methodologically, comparing census results with findings from other survey and opinion polls. It finds that census data correlate with those from face-to-face surveys, while postal surveys tend to show considerably higher rates of religiosity and affiliation. Secondly, the article considers the findings themselves. According to census data, 29 percent of the population remained religiously affiliated between 2000 and 2011. However, the census also captures interesting changes over that period that illuminate the situation further. Significantly, Estonia is the first European country in which the traditional majority church has been usurped by a denomination associated with the largest ethnic minority group and which makes a strong connection between cultural and national identities. The article places this finding in the context of Central and Eastern European census data to argue that religious affiliation tends to remain high in societies where religious and national or ethnic identities have close ties, whereas traditional denominations have been declining in societies where these kinds of connections are weak. This factor helps explain variation between experiences of religious change in post-Socialist contexts.

Volume: 44

Issue: 3

From page no: 502

To page no: 515

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1080/0048721X.2014.914635

Journal: Religion

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