Friday, January 25, 2008

The Spiritual Landscape in Spain

For those who may be interested, the following article posted on Protestante Digital gives what I consider to be an objective and succinct summary of the current religious make-up of the country in which my family and I have dedicated the last 17 years of our life and ministry.

Immigrants changing religious map of Spain

LA CORU√ĎA, (Source: La Voz de Galicia /

One of the effects of the large numbers of immigrants entering Spain is the rapid increase in the number of religious groups. Most of the 14,000 registered religious organisations are Catholic, but those representing minority faiths are growing fast.

Spain is Roman Catholic by history and tradition, at least over the past five hundred years, but is becoming less so. Not just because the number of atheists is growing, up to 4.9% of the population at the latest count, nor yet that of agnostics, now at 11.7%, but because there is a proliferation of non-Catholic religious groups. In 2005, according to government figures, there were 12,453 Catholic organisations (today up to 12,585), while non-Catholic groups totalled 1,388 in 2005, but are up to 1,895 today.

Most of these non-Catholic groups are Protestant or Evangelical, but there are also Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox, Hindu, Buddhist, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon groups. And the figure is set to rise, not least because of the recent government decision to recognise the Scientology 'Church' as a legal entity, with the same rights as all other recognised groups.

Despite all the growth, it is somewhat amusing to discover that if one adds up the number of followers claimed by each group, it comes to a figure higher than the total population of Spain, although there may be people who claim to practice more than one religion. In round numbers, the Spanish population is 44 million, of whom 34 million are officially Catholic. However, it is impossible to know how many of them are actually still in the Catholic Church in any meaningful way, given that the Catholic Church doesn't recognise apostates. Government figures suggest about half of all Catholics are non-practising.

Behind the Catholics come the Muslims, who number over a million in Spain at present, and the Protestants, who represent a community of about 400,000 people, which has increased considerably in recent years with the huge wave of immigration from Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. The Federation of Evangelical Organisations calculates that there are a further 800,000 foreign Protestants who live in Spain for at least six months a year, most of them from northern Europe. This would put Protestants in second place, with a total of around 1.2 million.

There are about 40,000 Jews in Spain, and 9,000 practising Buddhists, as well as all those people who follow other minority faiths. The Scientology group claim to have around 10,000 followers in Spain.


Todd Buck said...

Between Scientology and Gordon Hinckley's Death, there is alot of news concerning our ultimate end.

In this regard, please see my devotion "January Closes, Another Life to Close, and His Peace."

In my cartoons section, I have some life reflections including a line about your precious father.

See my new POLL on New Year's Resolutions (aka Politics/Celebrity in the New Year).

Not too many polls include Chevy Chase, Britney Spears, and John Frame in the same question!

Thanks for all that you do for Him.

In the Lamb,

Todd Buck

David Phillips said...


I had the privilege of staying in Spain, Barcelona specifically, during the last week. I met many of your colleagues, and spent a great amount of time listening to their stories.

It was quite a life-changing blessing.