The percentage of newborn children who are registered into the National Church has been in steady decline for nearly a decade, Fréttablaðið reports, and last year that percentage fell below 50% for the first time.
As recently as 2003, over 83% of newborn children were registered in the National Church. Since then, that percentage had its ups and down, but nonetheless reflected a downwards trend. That downward trend got more precipitous in 2006, due in part to an increase in immigration—mostly from Poland, a traditionally Catholic country—and a series of sexual abuse scandals that began to come to light in 2008 may have also played a part.
However, in 2013, the law on child registration in the National Church was changed. Up until then, if the mother of a child was registered in the National Church, the child was as well, unless the parents indicated otherwise. This has since been changed, whereby both parents need to be living together and registered in the same religious organisation for automatic registration to occur.
In 2018, the percentage of newborn children registered in the National Church was at 49.2%, an historic low.
Whatever the factors contributing to the decline, registration in the church itself has been on the wane. According to data from Statistics Iceland, the number of people registered in the National Church went from 253,069 in 2009 down to 232,591 in 2019, while the population of Iceland has risen.
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