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Lisätty: 2008-10-19

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, 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 the church.

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. 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.

Heikki Orsila
Media liaison for
Member of the board, Freethinkers of Tampere
Yliopistonkatu 58B
FI-33100 Tampere
tel: +358407325989

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