Good News in Spain: Non-Believers Double Practicing Catholics May 1, 2011

Good News in Spain: Non-Believers Double Practicing Catholics

Hey, Americans, we need to catch up with Spain! Their demographics are looking better and better for non-religious people.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports what people ages 15-29 said when they were surveyed about their religious preferences (forgive the rough translation):

The number of young people practicing Catholicism has plummeted, from 29.2% in 2002 to 10.3% in 2010, according to the Youth Institute of Spain (Injuve). Also, the number of non-believers (19.1%) and atheists (9.6%) have increased nine points and three points, respectively. Non-practicing Catholics are the majority, making up 45% of the total.

So why are young people leaving Catholicism in droves? Exactly why you might guess:

… The coordinator of the magazine and member of the research team…, Jesus Sanz, says that [young people reject the Catholic Church] because “[their doctrines] collide with modernity and [because of] the activities carried out regularly by them.”

Like trying to cover up all the child raping. (Why can’t they just come out and say that…?)

But these young adults are doing more than just rejecting Catholicism. They’re leaving religion altogether. Maybe they’re realizing what American Atheists has been saying for a while: this is all a scam.

(Thanks to Jose for the link)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Trace

    Politics has a lot to do with religious/non-religious alignment in Spain. The role of the Catholic church before and during the Spanish civil war as well as during the Franco years determined the current trend.

  • Steve

    There isn’t really much of an alternative to Catholicism in Spain. Protestants are almost non-existent there.

  • Sackbut

    Meanwhile, the Spanish courts denied atheists the right to march on Holy Thursday because it would offend Catholics.

  • ckitching

    Like trying to cover up all the child raping.

    Now, now. There’s more than just child raping to oppose. There’s also the opposition to contraception, and rights for gays, the extreme resistance to change in the name of tradition, the refusal to give women any power or influence inside the Church, or the extremely long and sordid history the Church has in supporting some of the worst characters in history and suppressing (often violently) those who oppose it.

  • frank

    How are non-believers and atheists different categories? Does one include the other?

  • The youth of today huh? They are great and fortunate to live in the Information age. The Internet means the next generation have greater access to free-thinking, alternative, rational ideas so can better avoid indoctrination into their countries historic religion. They will have enough to deal with in terms of a shrinking global economy where the gap between the wealthy and poor is widening, global warming and overpopulation. With all that, the last thing they need is to waste time building churches and praying to magical sky beings: there’s real work to be done. Statistics like this give me hope that humanity is advancing. America needs to catch-up with Europe. The UK, for example, has more atheists that Christians as of 2009.

  • Luis E. Espinosa

    A very good film and bitter critic on the Opus Dei at Spain is showed at Javier Fesser’s Camino (2008). Certainly give so much to think to the young people in Spain, where was a controversial film at its time, but must praised that condemned, and the latter mostly by religious and conservatives audiences. I really, really recommended.

  • Danish Atheist

    Luis, I will check out that movie if I get a chance. I just love spanish movies :o) and this one sounds good.

    Having always heard about the catholic south europe, I was surprised when I close relative of mine lived in Spain for 6 months and came home telling me how incredibly secular minded the young people he met down there were 🙂

  • jose

    In Spain, the church is a lobby. It’s not a grassroots, bottom-up power. That’s why they can influence courts without having real influence on common people.

  • maria

    I’m spanish and if even a right wing newspaper is saying that..

    I’m in that demographic and we are more numerous, most of those young “catholics” are just in a cultural sense because they have been surrounded by that religion, you have to understand the catholic church was official until 1975.

    Also, our most famous actors, mostly in USA, are agnostic or atheist even tought one of them celebrates catholic procesiones (i dont know the translation) jut like some of my friends and family do because its still a cultural thing. NOT SAYING NAMES, i dont like outing people but you can search for quotes and oscars ;)and Z.

    Also, there’s a lot of adults who are not religious like my parents who are agnostics and my brother is an atheist..and my grandmother, you can send her to a church, to a mosque, sinagogue, temple,etc.. she would me you think shes religious in all of them, she was brought up to blend because of the wars and Franco (spanish dictator) who tried to kill her family.

    Franco used the title Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios, meaning Leader of Spain, by the grace of God.. enough said

    Today it’s still a touchy subject because all the people that died in both sides..
    Btw sorry for my possible mistakes, english is my third language..SORRY!!

  • You’re fine, Maria – way better than most people would do speaking even a second language, let alone a third!

    As for translating procesiones…maybe ‘rituals’ would work.

  • oliver

    “Why can’t they just come out and say that…?”

    Because it’s not just the pedophilia, it’s the homophobia, the racism, the sexism, the economic corruption, the lies, the hate, the fascism… ah, the Spanish Church and its inquisitorial nostalgia…

  • CosmoKitten

    Maria talks about procesiones and maybe romerías. When we say ‘procesiones’ we’re referring to a procession like these They aren’t just christian rituals as they’re linked to Spain’s history and many of them have been declared as international touristic interest in Spain (and worldwide). E.g:

  • CanadianNihilist


  • Freemage


    There isn’t really much of an alternative to Catholicism in Spain. Protestants are almost non-existent there.

    I was actually wondering about this. Americans tend to forget that a lot of Europe and South America are very much single-sect states. Breaking from the Church in such an environment tends to lead you to walking away from faith entirely–there’s none of the American phenomenon where you get fed up with the Catholics, and become an Episcopalian, or tire of the Evangelicals and become a Baptist, or what-have-you.

  • Claudia

    I think it’s important to note that “non-practicing Catholic” is better translated as “cultural Catholic”. A majority of my friends are technically counted as “Catholic” having been baptized, had first Communion and in a few cases even married in the Church. Of course, outside of these events they never go to church, are more often than not nonbelievers and don’t give a damn what the Church thinks about anything.

    The closest analogy for an American would be American Jews. It’s quite common to find Jewish atheists. Some people identify Catholicism as a cultural marker, but not actually as a belief. In any event baptism rates are plummmeting and as I recall secular (city hall) weddings now outnumber church weddings.

    Now if we could get the damn church off of our tax forms, that would be super.

  • Noigiler

    Still wondering about frank‘s question: “How are non-believers and atheists different?” Anybody have a POV on that?

  • David

    The article didn’t present the information accurately. Even those in their early 30s are leaving the church in droves. According to psychologist Jean Twenge, author of “Generation Me,” in 2006 just 18% of 18 – 29 year olds (born 1977 to ’88) attended church every Sunday (that percentage now is probably slightly lower).

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