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Photo: Golli. A mass in Hallgrímskirkja church, Reykjavík.

Shifts in Religious Associations and Affiliation in Iceland

A few changes have occurred to the religious associations listed in the National Registry of Iceland over the past year, Fréttablaðið reports. The Jewish Community of Iceland was registered for the first time, with 38 members currently listed. The Islamic Cultural Centre of Iceland was taken off the registry of religious groups (another Islamic association, the Félag Múslima á Íslandi, remains on the registry). The National Church of Iceland is still the largest religious association in the country by membership, though it has been steadily losing members in recent years.

A total of 53 religious and life stance associations are currently listed in the National Register. Currently, 229,623 individuals are registered in the national church, which has higher affiliation than any other religious association in the country. Its registered members, however, decreased by 94 between December 1, 2020 and October 1 of this year.  The second most populous religious association in the country is the Catholic Church, with just over 14,700 registered members, followed by the Free Church in Reykjavík with about 10,000 members.

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The two religious groups that saw the biggest spikes in membership during the same period were the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association (Siðmennt), which grew by 334 members, and Ásatrúarfélagið (a pagan religious organization).

The largest decrease was in the Zuist Association, which decreased by 225 members, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the church was set to dissolve in 2019 following disputes with authorities. The organisation with the smallest membership was Vitund (Awareness), with three members. As of October 1, 2021, 4.6% of Iceland’s population was registered outside of any religious organisation, or more than 29,000 people.

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