News Articles

Labour Party voters most generous with public support for church buildings

Religion remains a factor with Netherlanders

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

NIJMEGEN, the Netherlands - Nearly three out of every four Netherlanders want the government to guarantee that at least one church building in every village remains open for community gatherings. These conclusions were contained in a study conducted by the Catholic social-religious institute Kaski.

Nearly one out of every two residents wants the government also to fund upkeep of the buildings when the village church community becomes unable to carry the financial burden. According to Kaski, church affiliation is not a factor for supporters of government subsidies, Labour Party voters are the strongest proponents of such assistance while active church members are most hesitant on this point.

Many churches have closed their buildings in recent years. Especially centuries-old buildings have become a strain on budgets due to high maintenance costs while government agencies that support upkeep of such monuments increasingly prioritize funding based on strategic factors and tight budgets.


Mobile villagers easily could attend services in neighbouring towns while many small congregations and parishes are merging into area-based entities. This process especially has accelerated in southern Dutch dioceses and in northern Dutch mainline Reform-ed areas. In the cities in particular, church buildings have been remodeled for use as art galleries, concert halls, and apartments. A foundation in Friesland owns numerous village churches, often taken over for a nominal amount.

Highlights personal life

Netherlanders, forty percent report church membership, attach great value to their religion, particularly during crucial moments in personal life such as at births, deaths and when raising children.

For two out of every three people religion also is important to hold on to norms and values and during disasters, commemorations, and national festivities. The level of education also plays a factor, reports Kaski. People with a lower education and the elderly rate religion more important than do the highly educated and youth.

The confidence level in churches varies significantly among Netherlanders but is low compared to that in neighbouring countries. Nearly four out of ten people have confidence in the churches, another four has none. Protestants trust their churches (nearly 80 percent) while the Roman Catholic margin is much lower (56 percent). The unchurched lag behind at 20 percent. The public rates science at a confidence level of 72 percent, political parties at 21 percent.