• Spain's news in English

One in five Spaniards are 'convinced atheists'

Fiona Govan · 13 Apr 2015, 17:49

Published: 13 Apr 2015 17:49 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In fact with one in five Spaniards insisting that they are "convinced atheists" Spain ranks fifth on the global list of adamant non-believers.

The study by polling firm WIN/Gallup surveyed 63,398 people in 65 countries in a bid to discover global religious trends.

Spain was surprising in that only 37 percent described themselves as "religious" while 35 percent  said they were “not religious” and 20 percent went even further and declared that they were "convinced atheists".

Once the bastion of Roman Catholicism, Spain was responsible for the Inquisition and the birth of orders including the Dominicans, the Jesuits and Opus Dei, the religion has been on the wane since the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975.

The last Pope, Benedict XVI, saw Spain as one of the principle nations ripe for evangelism and visited the country three times in his eight year as pontiff.

But the number of churchgoers has continued to fall.

According to the survey, only China (61 percent), Hong Kong (34 percent), Japan (31 percent) and the Czech Republic (30 percent) registered more "convinced atheists" that Spain.

In Western Europe, approximately half of the population described themselves as "not religious" or "a convinced atheist" in the survey.

Thailand was the most religious country globally in the latest WIN/Gallup poll, with more than nine out of ten respondents descibing themselves as religious. Bangladesh, Georgia and Morocco were ranked joint second.

Jean-Marc Leger, President of the WIN/Gallup International Association, said that religion continued to dominate the lives of most global citizens.

"We see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high. Furthermore, with the trend of an increasingly religious youth globally, we can assume that the number of people who consider themselves religious will only continue to increase."

The popularity of religious processions that occur across Spain during Easter week may appear to tell a different story but the statistics do show that even those who consider themselves religious only go to church infreqiently. 

Story continues below…

A recent poll by the Spanish think tank CIS claimed that 69 percent of respondents considered themselves Catholic, 16 percent non-believers and 10.3 percent atheists.

But 60 percent admitted to almost never attending church while only 11.9 percent claimed that they went every Sunday and on Saints’ days.



For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available