Press release 2008-10-19
Church Leaving Rising in Finland
The Finnish state church is increasingly under pressure due to
membership loss. In 2008 approximately 34,000 persons have so far left the
church. Estimated 43,000 persons will leave the church this year. Last
year's number is 38,000, which means a 13% increase this year.
43,000 persons is 1% of church members. 10,000 persons joined the
church in 2007. The most common reason to leave the church is
avoiding the church tax, which is 1.3% of income on average.
81% of the 5.3 million Finns are members of the state church.
Privileges of the state church include taxing profits of all
companies, monopoly on undertaking, and avoiding some taxes.
90% of the people who left the church made it through Eroakirkosta.fi,
a web site created in 2003 by the Freethinkers of Tampere. In 2003 the
state passed laws that allows leaving the state church by sending
email. Email resignations became possible in 2004 through the web
site. Resignation rates have increased each year since 2003.
Large size cities (population over 50,000) have higher leaving rates
than medium size cities (population 10,000 - 50,000). On average,
0.72% of large city population have left the church this year. In
medium size cities the same number is 0.49%. In small cities
(population less than 10,000) the number is 0.36%. One possible
explanation is that small and medium size cities have tighter
communities than large cities, which decreases the tendency to leave
54% of apostates are under 30 years old. 8.5% are exactly 18 years old,
which is the age at which a person can autonomously leave the church.
60% of apostates are male.
Eroakirkosta.fi is a Finnish web site maintained by the Freethinkers
of Tampere. The Freethinkers of Tampere is a secular organization that
defends the rights of secular people, aims to separate the state and
church, and demands equality in law for all ideological organizations.
Media liaison for Eroakirkosta.fi
Member of the board, Freethinkers of Tampere