From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

Irreligion (adjective form: non-religious or irreligious) is the absence of religion, an indifference towards religion, a rejection of religion, or hostility towards religion.[1] When characterized as the rejection of religious belief, it encompasses explicit atheism, religious dissidence, and secular humanism. When characterized as hostility towards religion, it encompasses anticlericalism, antireligion, and antitheism.

When characterized as indifference to religion, it is known as apatheism. When characterized as the absence of religious belief, it may also include deism, implicit atheism, "spiritual but not religious", agnosticism, pandeism, ignosticism, nontheism, pantheism, panentheism, religious skepticism, and freethought, depending upon individual definitions, and the distinction between different senses of the word religion. Irreligion may include some forms of theism, depending on the religious context it is defined against; for example, in 18th-century Europe, the epitome of irreligion was deism.[2]

According to Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with a religion, while 84% are affiliated.[3] Several other polls on the subject have been conducted by Gallup International: their 2012 poll from 57 countries reported that 59% of the world's population identified as religious, 23% as not religious, 13% as "convinced atheists", and also a 9% decrease in identification as "religious" when compared to the 2005 average from 39 countries.[4] Their follow up poll in 2015 found that 63% of the globe identified as religious, 22% as not religious, and 11% as "convinced atheists".[5] According to Pew Research Center's 2012 global study, out of the global nonreligious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).[6] According to Pew Research Center projections, the nonreligious, though temporarily increasing, will ultimately decline significantly by 2050 because of lower reproductive rates and ageing.[7]

Being nonreligious is not necessarily equivalent to being an atheist or agnostic. Pew Research Center's global study from 2012 noted that many of the nonreligious actually have some religious beliefs. For example, they observed that "belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults."[6]

Human rights

In 1993, the UN's human rights committee declared that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief."[8] The committee further stated that "the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views." Signatories to the convention are barred from "the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers" to recant their beliefs or convert.[9][10]

Most Western democracies protect the freedom of religion, and it is largely implied in respective legal systems that those who do not believe or observe any religion are allowed freedom of thought.

A noted exception to ambiguity, explicitly allowing non-religion, is Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (as authored in 1982), which states that "No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion."[11] Article 46 of China’s 1978 Constitution was even more explicit, stating that "Citizens enjoy freedom to believe in religion and freedom not to believe in religion and to propagate atheism."[12]


Although 11 countries listed below have non-religious majorities, it does not mean that majority of the populations of these countries don′t belong to any religious group. For example, 67.5% of the Swedish population belongs to Lutheran Christian Church,[13] while 58.7% of Albanians declare themselves as Muslims.[citation needed] Also, though Scandinavian countries have among the highest measures of nonreligiosity and even atheism in Europe, 47% of atheists who live in those countries are still members of the national churches.[14]

A Pew 2015 global projection study for religion and nonreligion, projects that between 2010 and 2050, there will some initial increases of the unaffiliated followed by a decline by 2050 due to lower global fertility rates among this demographic.[15] Sociologist Phil Zuckerman's global studies on atheism have indicated that global atheism may be in decline due to irreligious countries having the lowest birth rates in the world and religious countries having higher birth rates in general.[16]

Gallup Religiosity Index 2009 (light color indicates religious, dark nonreligious)[17]

The tables below order the percentage of a country's population that are nonreligious from highest to lowest.

Country Percentage of population
that is non-religious (+20%)
Date and source
 Estonia 70.4 [18]
 Czech Republic 67.8 [19]
 Vietnam 63 [18][20]
 Denmark 61 [18]
 Netherlands 56 [18][21]
 Germany 55 [22]
 Sweden 54 [18]
 Albania 52 [23][24][25]
 Japan 52 [18]
 Azerbaijan 51 [26]
 China 50.5 [18][20][27]
 Uruguay 47 [28]
 France 44 [18]
 Russia 43.8 [20]
 Belarus 43.5 [20]
 South Korea 43 [20][29]
 Finland 42.9 [18]
 Hungary 42.6 [20]
 Ukraine 42.4 [20]
 Iceland 42 [30]
 New Zealand 41.9 [31]
 Latvia 40.6 [20]
 United Kingdom 39 [32]
 Belgium 35.4 [20]
 Luxembourg 29.9 [20]
 Slovenia 29.9 [20]
 Chile 25.0 [33]
 Canada 23.9 [34]
 Spain 23.3 [35]
 Slovakia 23.1 [20]
 United States 22.8 [36]
 Australia 22.3 [37]
  Switzerland 21.4 [38]
Country Percentage of population
that is non-religious (-20%)
Date and source
 Lithuania 19.4 [20]
 Guatemala 18.3 [39]
 Italy 17.8 [20]
 Argentina 16.0 [40]
 Nicaragua 15.7 [41]
 Belize 15.6 [42]
 South Africa 15.1 [43]
 El Salvador 14.6 [44]
 Croatia 13.2 [20]
 Austria 12.2 [20]
 Portugal 11.4 [20]
 Costa Rica 11.3 [45]
 Puerto Rico 11.1 [20]
 Bulgaria 11.1 [20]
 Philippines 10.9 [20]
 Honduras 9.0 [33]
 Brazil 8.0 [46]
 Ecuador 7.9 [47]
 Ireland 7.0 [48]
 Mexico 7.0 [33]
 India 6.6 [20]
 Venezuela 6.0 [33]
 Serbia 5.8 [20]
 Peru 4.7 [20]
 Poland 4.6 [20]
 Greece 4.0 [20]
 Panama 3.0 [49]
 Turkey 2.5 [20]
 Romania 2.4 [20]
 Tanzania 1.7 [20]
 Malta 1.3 [20]
 Iran 1.1 [20]
 Uganda 1.1 [20]
 Nigeria 0.7 [20]
 Thailand 0.27 [50]
 Bangladesh 0.1 [20]

See also


  1. Campbell, Colin. 1971. Towards a Sociology of Irreligion. London:McMillan p. 31.
  2. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. "The Global Religious Landscape". Retrieved December 18, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Global Index of Religion and Atheism" (PDF). WIN/Gallup International. Retrieved 13 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Losing our Religion? Two Thirds of People Still Claim to be Religious" (PDF). WIN/Gallup International. WIN/Gallup International. April 13, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 6.0 6.1 "Religiously Unaffiliated". The Global Religious Landscape. Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life. December 18, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Why People With No Religion Are Projected To Decline As A Share Of The World's Population". Pew Research Center. April 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "CCPR General Comment 22: 30/07/93 on ICCPR Article 18".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. International Federation for Human Rights (1 August 2003). "Discrimination against religious minorities in Iran" (PDF). Retrieved 3 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Davis, Derek H. "The Evolution of Religious Liberty as a Universal Human Right" (PDF). Retrieved 3 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. [1]
  11. People's Republic of China 1978 Constitution (PDF). 1978. p. 41. Retrieved 2014-02-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Kyrkan i siffror, Swedish Lutheran Christian Church in numbers".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Zuckerman, Phil, ed. (2010). "Ch. 9 Atheism And Secularity: The Scandinavian Paradox". Atheism and Secularity Vol.2. Praeger. ISBN 0313351813.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050". Pew Research Center. April 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Zuckerman, Phil (2007). Martin, Michael (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 59. ISBN 0521603676.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. The Religiosity Index is a measure of the importance of religion for respondents and their self-reported attendance of religious services. For religions in which attendance at services is limited, care must be used in interpreting the data. (Gallup WorldView) Archived April 29, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  17. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 18.8 Zuckerman, Phil. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns", from the Cambridge Companion to Atheism, edited by Michael Martin, University of Cambridge Press, 2007
  18. "Population by religious belief and by municipality size groups" (PDF). Czech Statistical Office. Retrieved 23 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 20.12 20.13 20.14 20.15 20.16 20.17 20.18 20.19 20.20 20.21 20.22 20.23 20.24 20.25 20.26 20.27 20.28 20.29 20.30 20.31 20.32 Dentsu Communication Institute Inc., Research Centre for Japan (2006)(Japanese)
  20. Knippenberg, Hans "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, page 92
  21. (German) Religionen in Deutschland: Mitgliederzahlen Religionswissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst; 31 October 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  22. "Albania". 2006-09-15. Retrieved 2011-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> US Department of State - International religious freedom report 2006
  23. "" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "". Retrieved 2011-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Some publications
  25. "Global Index Of Religion and Atheism" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Publications are taken from Gallup
  26. "". Retrieved 2011-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Some publications
  27. "Atheism to Defeat Religion By 2038". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. According to figures compiled by the South Korean National Statistical Office. "인구,가구/시도별 종교인구/시도별 종교인구 (2005년 인구총조사)". NSO online KOSIS database. Retrieved August 23, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "2013 Census totals by topic".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Religion and belief: some surveys and statistics". British Humanist Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 "Las religiones en tiempos del Papa Francisco" (PDF) (in Spanish). Latinobarómetro. April 2014. p. 6. Archived from the original (pdf) on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "96F0030XIE2001015 - Religions in Canada". Retrieved 2013-05-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Canada 2011 census
  34. [2] Socialogical Research Centre, January 2012
  35. "America's Changing Religious Landscape". Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life. May 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "Census shows result of mining boom, with increased cost of housing and higher wages", PIA AKERMAN, The Australian, 21 June 2012.
  37. "Ständige Wohnbevölkerung ab 15 Jahren nach Religions- / Konfessionszugehörigkeit, 2012" (XLS). (Statistics) (in German, French, and or Italian). Neuchâtel: Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-05. External link in |website= (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. The Latin American Socio-Religious Studies Program / Programa Latinoamericano de Estudios Sociorreligiosos (PROLADES) PROLADES Religion in America by country
  39. "Table Of Statistics On Religion In The Americas". April 2001. Retrieved 2011-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Gallup-Argentina survey
  40. "2005 Nicaraguan Census" (PDF). National Institute of Statistics and Census of Nicaragua (INEC) (in Spanish). pp. 42–43. Retrieved 2007-10-30.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. "Table Of Statistics On Religion In The Americas". April 2001. Retrieved 2011-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Gallup-Belize survey
  42. [3] Güney Afrika 2001 census Archived April 11, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  43. "International Religious Freedom Report for 2012". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 2014-03-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. International Religious Freedom Report 2008: Costa Rica. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  45. "Census 2010; Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática SIDRA". Retrieved 2013-06-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. (Spanish) El 80% de los ecuatorianos afirma ser católico, según el INEC
  47. "This is Ireland. Highlights from Census 2011, Part 1" (PDF). March 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. "Religión en Panamá" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. ประชากรจำแนกตามศาสนา หมวดอายุ เพศ และเขตการปกครอง (in ไทย). สำมะโนประชากรและเคหะ พ.ศ. 2543 (2000 census), National Statistical Office of Thailand. Retrieved 2013-10-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading