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"Irreligious" redirects here. For the album by Moonspell, see Irreligious (album).
Not to be confused with secularity.

Irreligion (adjective form: nonreligious or irreligious) is the absence of religion, an indifference towards religion, a rejection of religion, or hostility towards religion.[1] When characterized as the rejection of religious belief, it includes atheism, religious dissidence and secular humanism. When characterized as hostility towards religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as indifference to religion, it includes apatheism. When characterized as the absence of religious belief, it may also include agnosticism, ignosticism, nontheism, religious skepticism and freethought. Irreligion may even include forms of theism depending on the religious context it is defined against, as in 18th-century Europe where the epitome of irreligion was deism.[2]

A 2012 survey found that 36% of the world population is not religious and that between 2005 and 2012 world religiosity decreased by 9 percentage points.[3] The Pew global report in 2010 noted that many that are not religious have some religious beliefs and the majority of nonreligious come from Asia and the Pacific.[4] According to one source, it has been estimated that 40–50% of non-religious people hold belief in at least one deity, or in some higher power.[5]

Constitutional protections

Most Western democracies protect the freedom of religion, and it is largely implied in respective legal systems that those who do not believe or observe any religion are allowed freedom of thought. However, few national constitutions explicitly protect the right to not believe in a religion.

A noted exception is Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (as authored in 1982), which states that "No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion."[6] Article 46 of the 1978 Constitution was even more explicit, stating that "Citizens enjoy freedom to believe in religion and freedom not to believe in religion and to propagate atheism."[7]


Main article: Irreligion by country

The tables below order the percentage of a countries population that are nonreligious from highest to lowest.

Country Percentage of population
that is nonreligious
 Sweden 46–85 (average of 65.5) [9]
 Czech Republic 64.3 [10]
 Vietnam 46.1–81 (average of 63.55) [9][10]
 Denmark 43–80 (average of 61.5) [9]
 Albania 60 [11][12][13]
 United Kingdom 39–65 (average of 52)
 Japan 51.8 [10]
 Azerbaijan 51 [15]
 China 8–93 (average of 50.5) [9][10][16]
 Estonia 49 [9]
 France 43–54 (average of 48.5) [9]
 Russia 48.1 [10]
 Belarus 47.8 [10]
 Finland 28–60 (average of 44) [9]
 Hungary 42.6 [10]
 Ukraine 42.4 [10]
 Netherlands 39–44 (average of 41.5) [9][17]
 Latvia 40.6 [10]
 South Korea 36.4 [10]
 Belgium 35.4 [10]
 New Zealand 34.7
(from 87.3% who answered the optional question)
 Germany 34.6 [19]
 Chile 33.8 [10]
 Ecuador 30.0 [20]
 Luxembourg 29.9 [10]
 Slovenia 29.9 [10]
 Uruguay 29.4 [10]
 Venezuela 27.0 [10]
 Canada 23.9 [21]
 Spain 23.3 [22]
 Slovakia 23.1 [10]
Country Percentage of population
that is nonreligious (2006)
 Australia 22.3
 Mexico 20.5 [10]
 United States 19.6 [24]
 Lithuania 19.4 [10]
 Italy 17.8 [10]
 Argentina 16.0 [25]
 South Africa 15.1 [26]
 Croatia 13.2 [10]
 Austria 12.2 [10]
 Portugal 11.4 [10]
 Puerto Rico 11.1 [10]
 Bulgaria 11.1 [10]
 Philippines 10.9 [10]
 Brazil 8.0 [27]
 Ireland 7.0 [28]
 India 6.6 [10]
 Serbia 5.8 [10]
 Peru 4.7 [10]
 Poland 4.6 [10]
 Iceland 4.3 [10]
 Greece 4.0 [10]
 Turkey 2.5 [10]
 Romania 2.4 [10]
 Tanzania 1.7 [10]
 Malta 1.3 [10]
 Iran 1.1 [10]
 Uganda 1.1 [10]
 Nigeria 0.7 [10]
 Thailand 0.27% [29]
 Bangladesh 0.1 [10]

Although 10 countries listed above have non-religious majorities, it does not mean that majority of the populations of these countries don′t belong to any religious group. For example, 70% of the Swedish population belongs to Lutheran Christian Church, while 58.7% of Albanians declare themselves as Muslims.

See also


  1. Includes rejection.

Further reading

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