Membership in National Church of Iceland Gradually Declining

New data published by Registers Iceland shows that registered membership in the National Church of Iceland continues to decline, albeit slowly. Meanwhile, the pagan Ásatrú Fellowship and the Ethical Humanist Association have both been quietly gaining members.

As of September 1, there were 229,714 people registered as members of Iceland’s National (Lutheran) Church. This is a decline of three members since December 1. And while this is not a dramatic decrease in membership, it does appear to be part of a consistent pattern. From December 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, the church lost 75 members from its registry.

The Catholic Church has the second-highest membership, or 14,709 members. Fríkirkjan, the independent Lutheran Church of Iceland, which operates apart from the national church, comes in third with 10,040 members. The Ásatrú Fellowship and the Ethical Humanist Association had the greatest jump in membership—279 new members. (Statistics Iceland shows a total of 5,118 members of Ásatrú and 4,084 members of the Ethical Humanist Association as of January 1, 2021, but the current National Registers round-up offered no more specific, recent data regarding total membership in either organization.)

As of September 1, there were 28,926 people (7.7% of the population) registered as not being part of any religious organization. There were additionally 58,514 people listed as ‘Other and Not Specified,’ or 15.7% of the nation.

 

Icelanders’ Religious Affiliation Diversifies

The number of Icelanders registered as members of the National Church has gone down in the last twelve months, while there has been an increase in followers of Ethical Humanism, Ásatrú, and Islam. This according to the most recent data Icelanders’ religious affiliation, which was recently released by the country’s national register.

Iceland’s National (Lutheran) Church has seen a decrease in membership of just around 1%, or 2,419 people. The highest increases have been for the Catholic church (up by 512 registrants; an increase of 3.8%) and The Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association (up by 536, or 23.5%). Around 400 people officially joined Ásatrú, a Norse pagan religion, which is an increase of 9.9%.

The largest increase was among registered Muslims in Iceland. This year, there was an 122.1% increase, or 105 newly registered members, for a total of 191.

The largest decrease was seen among followers of Zuism, an ancient Sumerian religion, which went down by 306 members, or 15.8%.

There was also an overall increase among those who wanted to officially register as unaffiliated with any religious or philosophical organization. There was an increase of 2,221 people in this category, or 9.9%.

Two out of Three Icelanders Registered in National Church

Nearly two out of every three of Iceland’s residents, or just over 65%, are registered members of the national church. The numbers come from Registers Iceland and represent a loss of 2,029 members for the church since December 1, 2017.

During the same time period, Iceland’s Catholic Church gained around 377 members while the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association gained 370 members. As of October 1 of this year, 24,501 individuals are not registered in any religious or spiritual association, an increase of 1,959 individuals or 8.7% since December 1, 2017.