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Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1

Sweden Northern Europe World
Baha'i <0.1% <0.1% 0.1%
Buddhist 0.4% 0.3% 7.2%
Chinese Universalist <0.1% <0.1% 6.3%
Christian 63.6% 74.8% 32.8%
Confucianist <0.1% <0.1% 0.1%
Ethnoreligionist 0.1% <0.1% 3.5%
Hindu 0.1% 0.7% 13.8%
Jain 0.0% <0.1% <0.1%
Jewish 0.2% 0.3% 0.2%
Muslim 3.6% 2.9% 22.5%
Shintoist 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Sikh <0.1% 0.4% 0.3%
Spiritist <0.1% <0.1% 0.2%
Taoist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Zoroastrian 0.0% <0.1% <0.1%
Neoreligionists 0.2% <0.1% 0.9%
Atheist 11.7% 2.4% 2.0%
Agnostic 19.9% 17.7% 9.8%

Religious Demography2

The country has an area of 173,732 square miles and a population of 9.1 million.

There are numerous religious groups. The Government does not register the religion of citizens--it relies on statistics submitted by religious organizations when these apply for state funds.

Religious membership or affiliation is concentrated in a few major denominations. According to the Church of Sweden (Lutheran), an estimated 75 percent of citizens are members; other Protestant groups total approximately 4.4 percent (400,000 persons) of the population. Membership in the Church of Sweden has decreased steadily since it separated from the state in 2000. During 2006, 56,537 members left the Church, 0.8 percent of its registered membership. Studies led by the Church found that individuals left primarily for economic reasons: membership carries a tax of 0.98 percent on income. (Separated members can still attend services.) In 2006 the Church baptized 65.1 percent of all children born in the country, a figure that has steadily declined over the past two decades. Less than 36 percent of 15-year-olds were confirmed in 2006; 80 percent were in 1970. The Church married 48.7 percent of all couples, compared to 61.1 percent in 2000.

Approximately 5 percent (450,000-500,000) of residents are Muslims (although the officially sanctioned Muslim Council of Sweden, for Swedish government funding purposes, only reported 100,000 active participants.

Religious communities representing less than 5 percent of the population include the Pentecostal movement and the Missionary (or Missions) Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

The number of Jews is estimated at 18,500 to 20,000. The Jewish community estimated there are 9,500 practicing members. There are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform synagogues, found mostly in the cities. Large numbers of Jews attend High Holy Day services, but attendance at weekly services is low.

Smaller communities are concentrated in larger cities and include Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, the Church of Scientology, Zoroastrians, Hare Krishna, Word of Faith, and the Unification Church.

It is against the law for the Government to register the faith of individuals, therefore there are no statistics on correlation between religious groups and socioeconomic status. However, large numbers of immigrants are found at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.

Religions are closely tied to immigration, including the large Finnish-speaking Lutheran denomination and the Orthodox Christian churches of Syrians, Serbs, Greeks, Romanians, and Macedonians. Nearly all Roman Catholics are first- or second-generation immigrants, from southern Europe, Latin America, and Poland. Within the Stockholm Catholic Diocese, the Armenian, Chaldean, Maronite, Melchite, and Syrian churches celebrate Mass in their respective languages, as do the Polish, Croatian, Spanish, Italian, Eritrean, Vietnamese, Korean, and Ukrainian communities.

While services in Christian churches generally are poorly attended, many persons observe major church festivals and prefer religious ceremonies to mark turning points in life such as weddings and funerals.


Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.

1.  The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

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