Dutch want religion out of politics; a fourth acknowledge atheism

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A large majority of the Dutch populations thinks that religion should not be a determining factor within society. Politics in particular should be religion-free, but education too can do with less religion, according to KRO's study God in the Netherlands, NOS reports.

More than 68 percent of the Dutch say they do not follow a specific church, 25 percent are Christian, 5 percent are Muslim and 2 percent follow other non-Christian beliefs. Almost a quarter of the population are atheists, compared to 14 percent in 2006. 31 percent consider themselves spiritual, compared to 40 percent ten years ago. And the people who believe in some form of higher power fell from 36 percent in 2006 to 28 percent this year. More than half of Dutch never pray.

Religion's perceived role as a social binder is also decreasing. Only 25 percent of the population now believe that morality will fall if God is out of the picture, compared to 40 percent ten years ago.

The decline in religious belief can also be seen in Christian churches. The Roman Catholic churches in particular are feeling the lack of faith. Only 13 percent of Catholics still believe in heaven and less than half believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Secularization is less noticeable, but still present in the Protestant churches. Although the Protestants are also noticing a reduction in membership, the church attendance and faith are still about the same. 77 percent of Protestants still believe in Jesus Christs' divinity.

The God in the Netherlands study is done every decade, starting in 1996. More than 2,100 Dutch people are questioned on their faith and what role it plays in their lives.

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