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The rise of non-religion and atheism during the recent years worldwide, especially what has been called the ‘new atheism’, is now a phenomenon observable in Greek society too. The presence of atheism and non-religion was promoted by the Greek translations of all the major works of the protagonists of the international movement (R. Dawkins, K. Hitchens, and S. Harris) as well as by the publication of other books in favour of atheism, including scientific ones. Aside from that, articles about atheism have been published in the mainstream media, and news reports have been presented on prime time television broadcasting. As one could expect, the last few yearshave seen the emergence of many websites, forums and blogs that support atheist ideas. A last but crucial point was the founding of the Atheist Union of Greece (AUG) in 2012. AUG counts about 2,300 members and is quite active for the secularisation of the state and society through a series of activities (organising conferences, participating in anti-racist festivals and gay pride, sending letters to political parties and the government, making publications, taking legal action, etc.).

According to Eurobarometer (2005), 81% of the population believes that there is a god, 12% that there is some sort of spirit or life force and 3% neither from the above. In another opinion poll (Public Issue 2008), 7% stated that religion is not at all important in their lives, while 14% said that religion is not that important. More recently (Kapa Research 2015), 81.4% said that they are Orthodox Christians while 14.7% said that they are atheists, a number much higher than the 1.8% mentioned in the same company’s opinion poll in 2006. In the most recent surveys on the issue conducted by Dianeosis (2022), it is mentioned that 17.2% do not believe in God, while in 2016 (Dianeosis 2016) this number was 15.8% and in 2017 19.3%. It is important to mention that these numbers are much higher among ages 17–24, 33.6% in 2017 and 34.2% in 2022. According to the most recent wave of the World Values Survey (2018), 2.9% of Greeks identified themselves as atheists (a number that reaches 8.5% for ages 18–29), 11.9% as non-religious (with 15.9% for ages 18–29), while 81.4% said that they are religious. In the same survey, 6.2% said they do not believe in God, which for ages 18–29 was 14%.

Sources :
- Sakellariou, A. (2022). “Young people and the process of secularisation in contemporary Greek society”, Religions, 13 (10), Special Issue : Secularism and Religious Traditions, J.Kulska & A.M.Solarz (eds.)
- Sakellariou, A. (2022). “Greek society in transition : Trajectories from Greek Orthodoxy to Atheism”, in A.-L.Zwilling & H.Årsheim (eds.), Nonreligion in Late Modern Societies, Cham : Springer, pp.129-150.

D 27 juillet 2023    AAlexandros Sakellariou

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