Nonbelievers in the Church: A Study of Cultural Religion in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


In terms of belief and attendance, Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world. Yet, church affiliation and ritual participation remain high. As the Church of Sweden historically served secular func- tions on behalf of the state, this paper uses survey data from the International Social Survey Program to investigate the extent to which Swedes are culturally religious, whereby they belong without believing. Findings reveal more prominent differences between individuals identifying with other religions and the Church of Sweden than between those identifying with the Church of Sweden and no religion. Furthermore, there is a weak connection between beliefs and Church of Sweden iden- tification, while there is a strong relationship between beliefs and regular attendance. As such, this study calls for careful conceptualization of religious belonging as, in some contexts, common mea- sures of objective religiosity, such as affiliation and attendance, reflect fundamentally different phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-294
Number of pages20
JournalSociology of Religion
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • cultural religion
  • church and state
  • Sweden
  • secularity
  • belonging
  • believing


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonbelievers in the Church: A Study of Cultural Religion in Sweden'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this