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Religion in the Netherlands
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The Netherlands is one of the more secular countries in the Western Europe, with only 39% being religiously affiliated (31% for those aged under 35), although 62% are believers (but 40% of those not in the traditional sense). Fewer than 20% visit church regularly.
According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 34% of Dutch citizens responded that "they believe there is a god", whereas 37% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".
In 1950, before the secularisation of Europe, and the large settlement of non-Europeans in the Netherlands, most Dutch citizens identified themselves as Christians. In 1950, out of a total population of almost 13 million, a total of 7,261,000 belonged to Protestant denominations, 3,703,000 belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and 1,641,000 had no acknowledged religion.
However, Christian schools are still funded by the government, but the same applies for schools founded on other religions, Islam in particular. While all schools must meet strict quality criteria, from 1917 the freedom of schools is a basic principle in the Netherlands.
Three political parties in the Dutch parliament (CDA, ChristianUnion and SGP) base their policy on the Christian belief system. Although The Netherlands is a secular state, in some municipalities where the Christian parties have the majority the council practices religion by praying before a meeting. Other municipalities in general also give civil servants a day off on a religious holiday, such as Easter and the Ascension of Jesus. On September 4 2008, a discussion was started by Tineke Huizinga whether the Islam should receive a holiday, like Christianity. In 2005, 20% of the Dutch thought it should be a national holiday and 45% thought that Eid ul-Fitr should at least be recognized as a holiday.
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