Number of Muslims in Hungary doubled in twenty years, while number of Catholics halved

September 27. 2023. – 04:37 PM


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The number of professing Catholics in Hungary has almost halved in the past 20 years, and the number of those in the Reformed Church has fallen by almost the same proportion, according to the latest census figures. Almost half of the population now declines answering a question about their religion, while the number of Muslims and members of the Hungarian Faith Church (Hungary's biggest charismatic church) has increased several fold.

Despite the last 13 years of Christian-conservative governance and a law making it possible for historical denominations to establish (and take over) educational institutions, the number and proportion of religious people in Hungary, especially Catholics and Reformed, has fallen dramatically in the last ten and especially in the last twenty years. On Tuesday, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH) published most of the figures from last year's census, of which perhaps the most interesting are related to the population's religious affiliation.

Concerning religion, there were three possible answers in the census. These were as follows:

  • Hungarians could choose a religious denomination from the list;
  • they could say that they were not religious,
  • or they could choose not to answer.

The interpretation of the latter is problematic; as there may be some who conceal their religious beliefs, but the majority are likely not religious and are not even willing to answer the question. If we compare the two biggest religious denominations in the country (Roman Catholic and Reformed) with the non-religious and non-respondents, we get the following picture when looking at the last three censuses:

As can be seen from the graph, in addition to the overall decline in population, there has been a very sharp drop in the proportion of those who identify themselves as Catholic and Reformed, while the mass of non-respondents has increased several-fold. If we count them as non-religious, we can say that while

in 2001, three quarters of the Hungarian population professed to be religious, today it is less than half.

The number of professing Catholics has thus almost halved in twenty years, falling from 5.6 million to 2.9 million, while the number of Reformed has fallen slightly less, from 1.6 million to 944,000. The number of committed Lutherans fell from 300,000 to 176,000 during this period. The proportion of those professing to be non-religious remained more or less the same, while the number of non-respondents rose from 1.1 million to 3.9 million, an increase of three and a half times.

It should be noted here once again that of the almost four million non-respondents, there may be some who are religious but are for some reason keeping it to themselves, although it is hard to imagine that in 2022 in Hungary, those who previously identified themselves as Catholic or Reformed would be ashamed of their religion.

Twice as many Muslims, six times as many in the Faith Church

Not all the smaller religious groups have lost as many adherents in recent years as the Catholic and Reformed Churches. Only the number of those following Judaism has fallen significantly, from almost 13,000 to less than 9,000. The number of Unitarians has not changed much (probably due to the immigration from Transylvania).

The number of Muslims increased from 3,000 to almost 8,000, two and a half times the previous figure. The number of people belonging to the Faith Church, on the other hand, increased sixfold in twenty years, from almost four thousand to more than twenty-two thousand. But this is a mere drop in the ocean compared with the several million-strong Catholic and Reformed camp and the non-religious, non-responding group.

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