The Netherlands is no longer a religious country, think tank says

Photo: Johan van Buren

The number of people in the Netherlands describing themselves as atheist or agnostic has exceeded the number of religious people for the first time, the government’s socio-cultural think tank SCP said on Thursday.

Various surveys show that about half the population is agnostic or atheist and that’s double since the first surveys in the 1960s and 1070s, the SCP said.

At the same time, religion and religious communities are losing their influence in society and in decision-making, according to the SCP. He points out that this has had positive effects, both in terms of personal freedom and in terms of attitudes towards sexual diversity.

Yet there are also caveats. Instead of searching for meaning in life, individual nonbelievers search for meaning in their own lives,” the SCP said. They do this through personal development, caring for others, or seeking intense experiences.

This can lead to greater mental strain and a possible increase in associated problems, such as burnout,” the SCP said.

Furthermore, the agency warns that there is a growing lack of understanding between Christians, Muslims and other religious communities and those who are not religious.

He recommends that government policy focus on building understanding and creating a society in which everyone can participate and is valued.

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