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Religious opinions, beliefs and attitudes

2015 Survey about Religion in Estonia

In 2015, the Estonian Council of Churches, together with the social and market research house “Saar Poll” conducted a survey about Religion in Estonia. In 2016 the results, together with an analysis and articles about future perspectives for religion in Estonia, were published in a book Quo vadis Terra Mariana? It was the fifth online survey, the latest one having been conducted five years ago. The focus of the survey was to find out religious beliefs and habits that describe Estonian society. The results did not differ much from the last survey, but minor differences still appear.
The questionnaire began with a question about the importance of family, friends, religion, politics etc. According to the results, religion was among the least important spheres of life: when family was the most important (91%), politics (27%) and church (24%) were considered the least important. At the same time, the more vaguely defined “Faith” was considered important by 37% of respondents. Although the most popular spheres were important for both, Estonians and non-Estonians, the results about religion and church showed that when among Estonians 26% consider religion important, among other nations (mostly Russians) the percentage was much higher (60%). For the question about the importance of the Christian Church, the relation between Estonians and other nations proved to be almost the same: 17% of Estonians and 38% from other nations consider Church important.
The percentage of those who define themselves as religious (believers) has, in comparison with the results from 2010, gone up from 13% to 20%. The percentage of atheists, on the other hand, has decreased from 23% to 17%. The largest group was in 2010, as well as in 2015, religiously indifferent people. In 2015, 35% of respondents claimed that they were indifferent towards religion. Although the rise of believers has been greater among the group of other nations (from 26% in 2010 to 38% in 2015), there has been a rise among Estonians too (from 6% in 2010 to 11% in 2015).
The possibility was given to respondents to choose two preferred religious determinations. 36% of respondents chose Christianity, which was also the largest group, followed by the group of “spiritual, but not religious” (23%). 21% of respondents determined themselves as nonreligious, with no interest in religious topics. The percentage of Christians was higher among non-Estonians (26% versus 59%), but the percentage of “spiritual, but not religious” was higher among Estonians (27% versus 14%). Thus, it was once again confirmed that although Estonians do not identify themselves as believers, spirituality is still important to them. Overall, 90% of those who define themselves as believers, claim that they are Christians.
21% of respondents claimed that they belong to a certain congregation or religious association. The percentage has grown from 16% in 2010 to 21% in 2015. Again, among these, the percentage of non-Estonians is much higher – 18% in 2010 and 25% in 2015. The percentage of Estonians has gone up from 16% in 2010, to 19% in 2015.
40% of the respondents, who belong to a congregation, are Orthodox, 36% are Lutheran. In 2010, the percentage was in favor of the Lutheran church – 44% Lutheran, 32% Orthodox. These results are in accordance with a public census held in 2011, when 19% of Estonians recognized having a faith, whereas the percentage among non-Estonians was 50. A vast majority of them defined themselves as Orthodox.

D 20 March 2017    APriit Rohtmets

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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