Almost half the Dutch believe in miracles and 50% believe in life after death, according to a new report into religious beliefs by the government’s social policy unit, the SCP. And while 40% believe in heaven, only 18% think that hell actually exists.
Nevertheless, the SCP calculates that by 2020, almost three-quarters of the population will not attend any form of church – the figure was 64% two years ago and just 24% in 1958.
The SCP says the number of people who describe themselves as Catholic is around 28% now, but expects this to fall to just 10% by 2020. Only small religious communities are forecast to grow. By 2020, 7% of the population will be followers of small Protestant sects and 7% will follow Islam. Some 700,000 Christians have migrated to the Netherlands and many have set up their own churches.
The Netherlands has a number of strict Protestant groups, known as the ‘blackstocking’ churches because of their dress codes. Orthodox Christian parties currently hold five seats in the 150 seat lower house of parliament. One, the SGP, has faced legal action for its opposition to women taking an active role in politics.
The SCP report also reveals that around a quarter of the Dutch believe in lucky charms, fortune tellers, astrology and faith healers – a far lower percentage than in Europe as a whole.
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