Christian and moving house? The state will let your church know where
The Dutch cabinet is to make a new attempt to stop the automatic transfer of personal information about people who are members of a church community to church officials, so they can update their records, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.
Currently, if people who are members of a church move or get married, that information is automatically passed on to the national church authorities association Sila, which represents the seven main Dutch Christian communities.
In 2020, that happened 880,000 times, according to Sila figures. Some five million people in the Netherlands are officially members of a church, whether or not they are practicing. The biggest group, some 3.5 million, are Catholic.
The government attempted to stop the practice at the end of 2016, but the draft legislation received over 8,000 reactions, forcing a rethink.
Since then, people who are listed as members of a church can request their local authority keep their personal information private for specific reasons, but the government now wants to change this for a ‘no, unless’ approach, the VK said.
The Dutch population registration system includes information such as date of birth and sex, but also whether or not people are members of a church, but not which particular creed.
The number of people in the Netherlands describing themselves as atheist or agnostic has outstripped those who are religious for the first time, the government’s socio-cultural think-tank SCP said in March.
Various surveys show that around half the population is agnostic or atheist and that is double the number since the first surveys in the 1960s and 1070s, the SCP said. At the same time, religion and religious communities are losing influence in society and in decision making.
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