Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


God in Denmark and Britain

Aztec Gods
Originally uploaded by Dunechaser

Mailund posted a link to an article about attitudes to religion in Denmark, Britain and the US.

It’s the author’s idea that the UK is “somewhere between the United States and Denmark when it comes to religion”.

I must admit this surprised me a bit. In my experience, although there are possibly relatively more religious people in the UK than in Denmark, there are also many more declared atheists.

In Denmark, almost everybody is a member of the state church and would go there for christenings, confirmations and weddings, and possibly for Christmas, even if they don’t really believe in God.

In the UK, lots of people never ever go to church, and they’re most certainly not a member.

Based on this, it was interesting to look at the figures quoted in the article.

The author’s hypothesis seems to be supported by questions like “don’t believe in life after death”, “strongly disagree that politicians who don’t believe in God are unfit for office” and “attend religious service once a week or more”, for which the UK is neatly placed between Denmark and the US.

But on the other hand, Denmark is in the middle when it comes to questions such as “never think about meaning & purpose of life” and “a religious person”.

I guess this has something to do with averages. If we look at church attendance, Denmark is full of people who go once or twice a year, whereas the UK consists of 15% believers who go to church all the time and 85% who never go.

Danes also want everybody to be equally vague about religion, which is why they don’t want religious political leaders (but I suspect they’d also be much more suspicious of strongly atheist politicians than people in the UK).

And whereas many Britons are so atheist they never think about the meaning of life, much fewer Danes would be this radical, just as Danes wouldn’t like to describe themselves as irreligious – so long as they don’t need to go to church too often.

5 thoughts on “God in Denmark and Britain

  • These stats are very interesting and really don’t strike me as representing the norm I know in both places. I doubt many Danes my age could say they’d never been to a christening of a child because no one they knew or were related to had ever had their child christened. I get the impression most Danes who don’t believe still follow these expected cultural obligations for fear of what people would think whereas the 85% of non church goers in the UK simply would never have their kid christened.

  • But now go visit the US of A ,,
    There they are all religious nutters of varying denominations ,, and none of them with the brains to think through the shite they spout ,.,. it’s actually tragically funny over the Pond.

  • Harry Campbell

    So in the UK nearly 15% “attend religious service once a week” (or more!) and about twice that number “pray to God outside of religious service at least once a week”? I find that very hard to believe. I don’t know how the respondents were selected and which religions were included, and I suppose it’s possible higher levels of religious observance/conformity among ethnic minorities might be a factor (and one which might divide the UK and Denmark), as well as perhaps an ageing housebound population praying away at home, but surely not enough to produce these figures. This is not the Britain I know. Where do all these people go to church (or mosques or synagogue or whatever) once a week “or more”?? Are there enormous American-style drive-in worship-factories in secret locations out in the countryside somewhere that I just happen to have glimpsed?! No, for a century or more religious attendance has plummeted while populations have rocketed — OK, the odd mosque/temple/gurdwara has been set up plus a few house churches, but innumerable places of Christian worship have been demolished or made into carpet warehouses, flats, pub/restaurant complexes etc, and few I know of can boast a weekly congregation running into three figures. This survey must have been very self-selecting, surely, with plenty of fibbing and wishful thinking in the answers.

  • Harry Campbell

    Wot, no “edit comment” button? “…that I just happen NOT to have glimpsed” I meant of course.

  • Suddenly I get it!!! A foreigner is sitting outside Cottiers etc counting the number going in on a Sunday, not realizing it is a pub and no longer a church!


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