In a world where being a non-believer is ever more fashionable (at least in the westernised world anyway) we take a look at 25 countries that supposedly have the greatest percentage of Atheists. It is interesting to note the main religious following within each country which is mostly Christianity in the countries with high levels of Atheism. You will also notice how there isn’t a single traditionally Islamic country in our list. Geographically, Europe takes the brunt of most of the list racking up 19 of the 25 positions on the list.
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All of the statistics come from the following site: http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist.html The stats were took in 2005 therefore it is correct to say that certain numbers may have changed and in terms of numbers of Atheists may have increased.
The percentage used corresponds to amount of people in the nation that are either Atheist, Agnostic or Non-believers but for the purpose of the article I am just using the phrase 'Atheist'.
25. Australia ( 24 - 25% Atheist)
In June 2010 it was reported that Australia’s new female Prime Minister Julia Gillard was an Atheist. Perhaps this will allow more Aussie’s to come out of the infidel closet and declare their Atheism!
24. Austria ( 18 - 26% Atheist)
An unusual religious story concerning Austria came into light in July 2011 concerning a man and his unflappable desire to uphold his religious beliefs. Even if he was a ‘Pastafarian’. Doesn’t sound like a country that takes religion too seriously.
23. Switzerland ( 17 - 27% Atheist)
Perhaps it would suit the famously stoic nation of Switzerland to have a neutral stance on religion as well as global conflicts.
22. Slovakia ( 10 - 28% Atheist)
Slovakia is perhaps seen as one of the more Conservative, right wing nations, particularly alongside neighbour Czech Republic yet it still makes the list at number 22.
21. Latvia ( 20 - 29% Atheist)
One of two Baltic states to make the list, unfortunately Lithuania couldn’t make the cut.
20. Canada ( 19 - 30% Atheist)
Whilst other countries in North America such as Mexico and the U.S (3 – 9% atheist) have solid Christian numbers, more liberal and easy going neighbour Canada has a more wide spread base of non-believers.
19. Israel ( 15 - 37% Atheist)
Perhaps surprising to some, maybe not to others. The Jewish state of Israel may have been formed slap-bang in the middle of the Holy Land populated, cosmopolitan cities such as Tel Aviv have introduced a more free thinking, less religious community.
18. Slovenia ( 35 - 38% Atheist)
In 2009 a high ranking Cardinal condemned Slovenia as being an ‘Atheist island’ within Europe. Fortunately for him it doesn’t seem like Slovenia has the highest Atheist proportion of people by quite a way.
17. Bulgaria ( 34 - 40% Atheist)
Atheists of Bulgaria took up in protest in order to have ‘Atheism’ as a possibility in their national census. The government are yet to get back to them.
16. Belgium ( 42 - 43% Atheist)
Catholic masses in particular are suffering in Belgium as there is a drop in church goers from 1967 (42.9% of population) to 2009 (5%) according to an independent study. Probably too busy stuffing their faces with waffles to go to mass.
15. United Kingdom ( 31 - 44% Atheist)
The birthplace of Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins may one day be higher up in this list. We can only hope.
14. Netherlands ( 39 - 44% Atheist)
Understandably the Netherlands makes the list. What else would you expect from a country where you can openly smoke cannabis and see live sex shows in the capital city?
13. Hungary ( 32 - 46% Atheist)
Whilst Hungary shows a relatively high percentage of Atheists, the government doesn’t act like it. As of April 2011 a new constitution was formed which claimed it wanted to put greater emphasis on Hungary’s Christian heritage with laws that seem to rule out acts like abortion.
12. Russia ( 24 - 48% Atheist)
Back in the day the likes of Lenin and Stalin would have happily seen a 100% Atheism rate in Mother Russia. The country’s communist past has seen a decline in the Orthodox Russian church.
11. Germany ( 41 - 49% Atheist)
Early Atheistic influences in Europe came from Germany in the form of philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach who wrote ‘The Essence of Christianity’. This in turn influenced other Atheist Germans such as Karl Marx.
10. Estonia ( 49% Atheist)
Since the original study of Atheist countries in 2005, there is apparent knowledge recently that Estonia is the least religious nation in the world. Apparently only 14% of Estonians believe that religion is an important part of their life.
9. South Korea ( 30 - 52% Atheist)
One of three countries in he far east to make the list. South Korea could find itself less than 9th place in the near future due to a strong growing Christian base.
8. France ( 43 - 54% Atheist)
Having been classed as a Catholic country for what seemed an eternity it now seems France can claim that title no longer. According to an independent study by newspaper Le Monde in 2007 shows that 51% of French call themselves Catholic. Even stranger is the fact that only half of the 51% say they believe in God!
7. Finland ( 28 - 60% Atheist)
The largest religious organisation in Finland is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The church has seen steep declines in modern times due to its strict beliefs on homosexuality.
6. Czech Republic ( 54 - 61% Atheist)
Nestled perfectly in Central Europe it could be seen as unusual that the Czechs make it this far up the list considering they border the strong Catholic nation of Poland. Back in 1415 Protestant priest and Philosopher Jan Hus was burnt at the stake for heresy against the Catholic Church. Nowadays neither Catholicism nor Protestantism flourish much.
5. Japan ( 64 - 65% Atheist)
Delving into the religious beliefs of many Japanese is a complicated business. . It seems that the religions of Buddhism are still practiced along with Shintoism which together combines as Shinbutsu Shugo. However, clearly the Japanese want to simplify their beliefs by not having any at all.
4. Norway ( 31 - 72% Atheist)
The first of all three Scandinavian countries in the list. In 2007 Norway was voted most peaceful country in the world via the Global Peace Index due to its low levels of violence and crime and willingness to enter global conflict, is it a coincidence that the country is mostly Atheist? Probably.
3. Denmark ( 43 - 80% Atheist)
In a book about non-religious communities a Danish pastor was quoted as saying ‘the word ‘God’ is one of the most embarrassing words you can say. You would rather go naked through the city than talk about God.’
2. Vietnam ( 81% Atheist)
Perhaps a surprising 2nd place finish for Vietnam at first glance but really a justified one when you look closely. Vietnam has the magic combination of being a Communist country for decades whilst having religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are merely seen as a tradition rather than a belief.
1. Sweden ( 46 - 85% Atheist)
And the number 1 position lands in the Nordic nation of Sweden! The percentage of Atheists seems massive and perhaps daunting for a few. Maybe, Sweden will be the first country to officially outlaw religion in the future, who knows…
There you have it folks, the 25 most Atheist nations in the world. REMEMBER it is actually impossible to get perfect statistics and the term ‘Atheism’ will have been used widely incorporating Agnosticism and Non-Religious.
Of course I feel it is necessary to say, as you may have realized that I myself am an Atheist and have written in such a way. No offence intended to any of the religious amongst us. If you disagree or want to question with any of the facts given please feel free to comment.