Religion in Finland

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Religions in Finland (2020)[1]

  Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (67.76%)
  Orthodox Church (1.09%)
  Other Christian (0.94%)
  Other religions (0.80%)
  Unaffiliated (29.41%)
The Cathedral of Turku is considered as the national shrine of Finland

Finland is a predominantly Christian nation where 67.8% of the 5.5 million overall population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Protestant),[2] 29.4% are unaffiliated, 1.1% are Orthodox Christians, 0.9% are other christians and 0.8% follow other religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, folk religion etc.[1]

There are presently two National churches (as opposed to State churches): the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Protestant), which is the primary religion representing 67.8% of the population by the end of 2020,[1] and the Finnish Orthodox Church, to which about 1.1% of the population belongs.[3][4][1] Those who officially belong to one of the two national churches have part of their taxes turned over to their respective church.[5] There are also approximately 45,000 followers of Pentecostal Christianity,[6] and more than 12,000 Catholic Christians in Finland, along with Anglicans, and some various Independent Christian communities. Prior to its Christianisation, beginning in the 11th century, Finnish paganism was the country's primary religion.

The Muslim population in Finland is 2.7% of the total, with about 150,000 adherents in 2016.[7]


Religion in Finland (Statistics Finland)[8]
Year Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Finnish Orthodox Church Other No religious affiliation
1900 98.1% 1.7% 0.2% 0.0%
1950 95.0% 1.7% 0.5% 2.8%
1980 90.3% 1.1% 0.7% 7.8%
1990 87.8% 1.1% 0.9% 10.2%
2000 85.1% 1.1% 1.1% 12.7%
2010 78.3% 1.1% 1.4% 19.2%
2011 77.3% 1.1% 1.5% 20.1%
2012 76.4% 1.1% 1.5% 21.0%
2013 75.2% 1.1% 1.5% 22.1%
2014 73.8% 1.1% 1.6% 23.5%
2015 73.0% 1.1% 1.6% 24.3%
2016 72.0% 1.1% 1.6% 25.3%
2017 70.9% 1.1% 1.6% 26.3%
2018 69.8% 1.1% 1.7% 27.4%
2019 68.7% 1.1% 1.7% 28.5%
2020 67.8% 1.1% 1.7% 29.4%

Most Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (67.8%).[8] With about 3.7 million members out of a total population of 5.5 million,[1] the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world, although its membership has been on the decline recently. In 2015,, a website which offers an electronic service for resigning from Finland's national churches, reported that half a million church members had resigned from the church since the website was opened in 2003.[9] The number of church members leaving the Church saw a particular large increase during the fall of 2010. This was caused by statements regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage - perceived to be intolerant towards LGBT people - made by a conservative bishop and a politician representing Christian Democrats in a TV debate on the subject.[10] The second largest group - and a rather quickly growing one - of 29.4% by the end of 2020[8] of the population is non-religious. A small minority belong to the Finnish Orthodox Church (1.1%) and to the Catholic Church (12,434 people or 0.2% of the population).[11]

Other Protestant denominations are significantly smaller, as are the Sikhs, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and other non-Christian communities (totaling with the Catholics to about 1.7% of the population).

The main Lutheran and Orthodox churches are constitutional national churches of Finland with special roles in ceremonies and often in school morning prayers. Delegates to Lutheran Church assemblies are selected in church elections every four years.

The majority of Lutherans attend church only for special occasions like Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals. The Lutheran Church estimates that approximately 2 percent of its members attend church services weekly. The average number of church visits per year by church members is approximately two.[12]

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll (2010),[13]

  • 33% of Finnish citizens "believe there is a God". (In 2005, the figure was 41%)
  • 42% "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force". (In 2005, the figure was 41%)
  • 22% "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". (In 2005, the figure was 16%)

According to Zuckerman (2005), various studies have claimed that 28% of Finns "do not believe in God" and 33 to 60% do not believe in "a personal God".[14]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church[edit]

Petäjävesi Old Church is an old Lutheran wooden church and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In 2020, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland had about 3.7 million members, which is 67.8% of the population, registered with a parish. The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland is an episcopal church, that is governed by bishops, with a very strong tradition of parish autonomy. It comprises nine dioceses with ten bishops[citation needed] and 384 independent parishes.[15] The average parish has 7,000 members, with the smallest parishes comprising only a few hundred members and the largest tens of thousands.[16] In recent years many parishes have united in order to safeguard their viability. In addition, municipal mergers have prompted parochial mergers as there may be only one parish, or cluster of parishes, in a given municipality.[citation needed]

Finnish Orthodox Church[edit]

The Finnish Orthodox Church (Finnish: Suomen ortodoksinen kirkko; Swedish: Finska Ortodoxa Kyrkan), or Orthodox Church of Finland, is an autonomous Eastern Orthodox archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Church has a legal position as a national church in the country, along with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. With its roots in the medieval Novgorodian missionary work in Karelia, the Finnish Orthodox Church was a part of the Russian Orthodox Church until 1923. Today the church has three dioceses and 60,000 members that account for 1.1 percent of the native population of Finland. The parish of Helsinki has the most adherents.

Catholic Church in Finland[edit]

St Henry's Cathedral, Catholic Diocese of Helsinki, Finland

The Catholic Church in Finland is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. As of 2019 there are more than 14,000 registered Catholics out of the country's population of 5.5 million as well as an estimated 10,000 unregistered Catholics in the country.[citation needed] There are estimated to be more than 6,000 Catholic families in the country, about half native Finns and the rest from international communities.  As of 2018 there are only five Finnish-born priests, and only three of them work in Finland. The Bishop of Helsinki is Mgr. Teemu Sippo, appointed on June 16, 2009. He is the first Finn to serve as a Catholic bishop in over 500 years. Currently there are more than 30 priests working in Finland from different countries. Due to the small number of Catholics in Finland, the whole country forms a single diocese, the Catholic Diocese of Helsinki.The Catholic Church in Finland is active in ecumenical matters and is a member of the Finnish Ecumenical Council, even though the worldwide Catholic Church is not a member of the World Council of Churches.

Baptists in Finland[edit]

Baptists in Finland are part of the Baptist branch of Protestant Christianity. They were among the early free churches in Finland. There are three church associations, the Finnish Baptist Church (Finnish: Suomen Baptistikirkko), Swedish Baptist Union of Finland (Swedish: Finlands svenska baptistsamfund), and two congregations belonging to the Seventh Day Baptists. Additionally, there are several independent Baptist churches. The Baptist movement came to Finland from Sweden in the mid-1800s.[17] The Swedish Baptist Union of Finland includes 13 congregations with approximately 1000 members.[18] The Finnish Baptist Church consists of 14 congregations with about 1500 members.[19] The Seventh-day Baptist Fellowship includes two congregations with 35 members. The membership and congregation numbers of the independent Baptist churches are unknown.

Finnish Neopaganism[edit]

Finnish Neopaganism, or the Finnish native faith (Finnish: Suomenusko: 'Finnish Faith') is the contemporary Neopagan revival of Finnish paganism, the pre-Christian polytheistic ethnic religion of the Finns. A precursor movement was the Ukonusko ('Ukko's Faith', revolving around the god Ukko) of the early 20th century. The main problem in the revival of Finnish paganism is the nature of pre-Christian Finnish culture, which relied on oral tradition and of which very little is left. The primary sources concerning Finnish native culture are written by latter-era Christians. There are two main organisations of the religion, the Association of Finnish Native Religion (Suomalaisen kansanuskon yhdistys ry) based in Helsinki and officially registered since 2002, and the Pole Star Association (Taivaannaula ry) headquartered in Turku with branches in many cities, founded and officially registered in 2007. The Association of Finnish Native Religion also caters to Karelians and is a member of the Uralic Communion.

Buddhism in Finland[edit]

Buddhism in Finland represents a very small percentage of that nation's religious practices. In 2013 there were 5,266 followers of Buddhism in Finland, 0.1% of the population.[20] There are currently 12 Finnish cities that have Buddhist temples: in Helsinki, Hyvinkää, Hämeenlinna, Jyväskylä, Kouvola, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Pori, Salo, Tampere and Turku.[citation needed]

Bahá'í Faith in Finland[edit]

While no statistics on the numbers of Baha'is have been released, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland estimates the 2004 population of Bahá'ís to be approximately 500. Operation World, another Christian organization, estimated 0.01%, also about 500 Bahá'ís, in 2003. In 2005 there was an estimate of 1668 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia).

Hinduism in Finland[edit]

Hinduism is a very minor religious faith in Finland. There are estimated to be around 5,000 Hindus in Finland, mostly from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Finland acquired a significant Hindu population for the first time around the turn of the 21st century due to the recruitment of information technology workers from India by companies such as Nokia.[21] In 2009, Hindu leaders in Finland protested the inclusion of a photograph that "denigrates Hinduism" in an exhibit at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum later removed the picture from its website.[22]

Islam in Finland[edit]

Islam is a religion in Finland. The first Muslims were Tatars who immigrated mainly between 1870 and 1920. 2.7% of the population is Muslim. In December 2017 plans to build a large mosque complex in Helsinki financed by crowdfunding organized by the Islamic Foundation based in Bahrain were withdrawn after the rejection by the city's Urban Environment Board for a bid for land. The application was rejected due to uncertainty over how reliable the funding would be for such a large project both for the initial building and running costs. It was also criticized as it was unclear whether a single group within Islam would dominate its prayers and the attendant risk of radicalization and conflict between different religious communities.[23][24]

Judaism in Finland[edit]

Finnish Jews are Jews who are citizens of Finland. The country is home to approximately 1,000 Jews in 2020,[1] who mostly live in Helsinki. Jews came to Finland as traders and merchants from other parts of Europe. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, about 28 Finnish Jews, mostly Finnish Army veterans, fought for the State of Israel. After Israel's establishment, Finland had a high rate of immigration to Israel (known as aliyah), which depleted Finland's Jewish community. The community was somewhat revitalized when some Soviet Jews immigrated to Finland following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The number of Jews in Finland in 2010 was approximately 1,500, of whom 1,200 lived in Helsinki, about 200 in Turku, and about 50 in Tampere. Jews are well integrated into Finnish society and are represented in nearly all sectors. Most Finnish Jews are corporate employees or self-employed professionals. Most Finnish Jews speak Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue. Yiddish, German, Russian, and Hebrew are also spoken in the community. Jews, like Finland's other traditional minorities as well as immigrant groups, are represented on the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO).There are two synagogues: one in Helsinki and one in Turku. Helsinki also has a Jewish day school, which serves about 110 students (many of them the children of Israelis working in Finland); and a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi is based there. Tampere previously had an organized Jewish community, but it stopped functioning in 1981. The other two cities continue to run their community organizations.

Population register[edit]

Traditionally, the church has played a very important role in maintaining a population register in Finland. The vicars have maintained a church record of persons born, married and deceased in their parishes since at least the 1660s, constituting one of the oldest population records in Europe. This system was in place for over 300 years. It was only replaced by a computerised central population database in 1971, while the two national churches continued to maintain population registers in co-operation with the government's local register offices until 1999, when the churches' task was limited to only maintaining a membership register.[25]

Between 1919 and 1970, a separate Civil Register was maintained of those who had no affiliation with either of the national churches.[25] Currently, the centralised Population Information System records the person's affiliation with a legally recognised religious community, if any.[26] In 2003, the new Freedom of Religion Act made it possible to resign from religious communities in writing. That is, by letter, or any written form acceptable to authorities. This is also extended to email by the 2003 electronic communications in the public sector act.[27] Resignation by email became possible in 2005 in most magistrates., an Internet campaign promoting resignation from religious communities, challenged the rest of the magistrates through a letter to the parliamentary ombudsman. In November 2006, the ombudsman recommended that all magistrates should accept resignations from religious communities via email.[28] Despite the recommendation by the ombudsman, the magistrates of Helsinki and Hämeenlinna do not accept church membership resignations sent via the service.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Belonging to a religious community by age and sex, 2000-2020". Tilastokeskuksen PX-Web tietokannat. Government. Retrieved 5 April 2021. Note these are official state religious registration numbers, people may be registered yet not practicing/believing and they may be believing/practicing but not registered.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Kolme neljästä suomalaisesta kuuluu luterilaiseen kirkkoon". (in Finnish). Sanoma. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Kirkon väestötilasto 2012". (in Finnish). Suomen ortodoksinen kirkko. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  5. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report for 2013: Finland". United States Department of State. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Helluntailiike on selvästi tienhaarassa". (in Finnish). Ristin voitto. 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Muslim Population Growth in Europe".
  8. ^ a b c "Population". Statistics Finland. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  9. ^ 500 000 käyttäjää - Uskontokuntiin kuulumattomien osuus kaksinkertaistunut
  10. ^ "Up to 18,000 Finns leave Lutheran Church over broadcasted anti-gay comments". Helsingin Sanomat. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Statistics". Catholic Diocese of Helsinki. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  12. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2004". U.S. Department of State. 2004-09-15. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  13. ^ "Special Eurobarometer Biotechnology" (PDF). Fieldwork: January–February 2010; Publication: October 2010. p. 204. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  14. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2006). "Atheism: Contemporary Numbers and Patterns". In Michael Martin (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 47–66. doi:10.1017/CCOL0521842700.004. ISBN 978-1-139-00118-2. Retrieved 2019-01-19.:50 Some requoted at
  15. ^ "Seurakunnat". (in Finnish). Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  16. ^ Heino, Harri (1997). Mihin Suomi tänään uskoo [What does Finland believe in today] (in Finnish) (2nd ed.). Helsinki: WSOY. p. 44. ISBN 951-0-27265-5.
  17. ^ "Baptismen i Finland och som en världsvid trosgemenskap | Finlands Svenska Baptistsamfund". Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  18. ^ "Om oss | Finlands Svenska Baptistsamfund". Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  19. ^ " | Suomen Baptistikirkko". Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  20. ^
  21. ^[permanent dead link] Labour Journal: Finland's welfare system appeals to Indian IT engineers
  22. ^ Pournima, Falgun (10 March 2009). "Helsinki: Nude man photo upsetting Hindus removed from website". Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  23. ^ McKernan, Bethan (3 May 2017). "Finnish minister says new 'grand mosque' could pose 'security risk'". The Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  24. ^ News Now Staff (18 December 2017). "Mirage: Why Helsinki's 'Grand Mosque' Disappeared". News Now Finland. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  25. ^ a b "History". Population Register Centre. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  26. ^ "Rekisteriselosteet". (in Finnish). Väestörekisterikeskus. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  27. ^ "Act on Electronic Services and Communication in the Public Sector". 16 October 2003. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  28. ^ Jääskeläinen, Petri (30 November 2006). "Dnro 2051/4/05". (in Finnish). Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  29. ^ - Helsingin maistraatti jarruttaa kirkosta eroamista