Ethnic Estonians Growing Even Less Religious, Census Confirms

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Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The notion that Estonia is the least religious nation in the world was given a boost on Monday by 2011 Housing and Population Census data showing that just 19 percent of ethnic Estonians indicated that they felt any religious affiliation whatsoever, down from 24 percent in 2000.

Among the total population aged 15 and over, Orthodox Christianity - followed mainly by members of the Russian minority - surpassed Lutheranism for the first time to claim 16 percent of the share, the largest of any religious group. Lutheranism came in at 10 percent, dropping from 152,237 followers in 2000 to just 108,513 at the end of 2011.

Across the religious and ethnographic board, the percentage of 15-and-overs in Estonia who felt a religious affiliation held steady at 29 percent. Of those 320,872 people, 176,773 ticked the box for Orthodox and for 108,513 Lutheran.

Other religions came in with far smaller numbers: 4,507 Baptists, 4,501 Roman Catholics, 3,938 Jehovah's Witnesses, 2,605 Old Believers, 2,189 members of free Christian congregations, 1,925 Earth Believers (a native Estonian religious denomination), 1,855 Pentecostals, 1,508 Muslims, 1,194 Adventists, 1,145 Buddhists, 1,098 Methodists, 1,047 followers of the Taara religion (another native denomination) and 355 followers of Judaism.

Those concerned should note that 341 people indicated that they were Pagan as opposed to 271 who said they were New Age, and Satanists outnumbered Rastafarians 120 to 37.  

However, the vast majority of respondents 15 and over - 54 percent - said they felt no religious affiliation, while 14 percent refused to answer the census question.

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