Ireland: Catholic population decreases by 6%; "no religion" increases by 74%

Ireland: Catholic population decreases by 6%; "no religion" increases by 74%
Ireland: Catholic population decreases by 6%; "no religion" increases by 74%

Gah stop reporting stuff in relative change percentage, it tells you almost nothing and can't be compared

Even worse, one change is percentage points and the other is percentage.

Thank god.

For most people in Ireland, being Catholic means little else besides the sacraments. Communions, christenings, weddings, funerals and confirmations are still a huge part of the culture here. Religious orders still have a large amount of control with regards to school admissions. Even some people who attend mass recently tend to follow a sort of folk religion rather than straight and narrow catholicism. A big part of this is the lack of faith in the Catholic hierarchy as a result of various abuse scandals. Older people still tend to appreciate the community of mass, but more and more people are less likley to identify as Catholic on cultural grounds.

This is why statistics should be taught early on, because most people don't get this shit

That is a key distinction they makes the post headline false.

When you put most of the world's knowledge, culture, and communities in the palm of their hands, people begin to realize just how small religion makes you think.

EDIT: Since this is starting to get popular...

[Disclaimer] I have nothing against most religions or religious people. It gives many, many people something to believe in, it essentially solidified the world's morals and remains a good compass for many. Religion has done a lot of good in the world, and continues to be one of the largest and most impactful reasons or ways that people philanthropize. I just think it is very slowly - and rightfully - phasing itself out. As the world gets smaller and smaller, so will religion. [/Disclaimer]

it essentially solidified the world's morals

I'm sorry I just can't let this slide. Almost every religion has barbaric and absolutely horrifying moral rules. If someone claims to base their morality on their good book, run away!

We're still 78% catholic, so still very much a christian society (before everyone goes saying the catholic churches influence in Ireland is dying)

Mathematics class taught me to interpret and present information in the form of statistics. English class taught me they can be manipulated to portray any argument you like.

You're 86% correct 89% of the time, with a confidence index of factor 50. However this is subject to change.

Ooooh I can do this!

If 0.06x = 0.74y

Then there are more than 12 times as many Catholic folks in Ireland than Athesists! And relative percentages are useless unless you're trying to sell cures for rare illnesses, then they're a gold mine!


I lived in Ireland for almost 4 years. Just moved home recently. I found this to be the case also. People were still having their kids baptized. Schools are a huge part of it. My daughter was born in the US but we moved to Ireland and I was happy I lost the baptism battle. Getting her into schools would have been harder than it already was.

Between the child abuse scandals, the Magdalene Laundries, and the years of social stagnation Ireland has a tough past with The Church...

And atheists don't breed so give it twenty years

Not sure what you're saying, but I'm sure it is funny.

"I don't believe in God, but I'm Irish so I'm still Catholic." - Dara O'Briain

relevant xkcd

Id agree with this and I'm (not really) a famous Irish priest.

My parents are 'catholics' who live in a rural Irish community and attend mass every Sunday, they work with community groups in the parish, fund raise for parish events etc ..... but if they are really pushed, neither actually believe in god.

My wife is similar, she attends mass (not overly regularly, but she does go) and she would say she is a catholic, and although she does believe in some higher being, its not really what the catholic religion teaches.

Being catholic in rural Ireland is a community thing I feel, its a place where the oul lads gather and chat about 'Paddy down the road ploughing the field beside his house'. They do it outside the chapel before 9am mass on a Sunday because thats a time when they are all there and not on the farm, its a place where people can be part of a community in a rural setting. The chapel is where everyone meets everyone. Most people there don't have a strong belief in Catholicism, they just like the community aspect.

The scandals have greatly weakened the power of the church over the people in Ireland. Even when I was young it was all encompassing, the church had a say in everything that went on, but now, people no longer have to bow to the power of the church....its just there, with its power ever dwindling.

"You could join the Taliban, and you'd merely be regarded as a bad Catholic."

Story of my reddit life

"The only reason I've never gone on a murderous rampage is because God would punish me in the afterlife".

I've heard this argument several times from people who thought it would somehow make me see their religious viewpoint. Scares the shit out of me that I share a world with millions of people who genuinely believe this.

We're all going to hell. I'm so happy. Well finally be a big family.just like Jesus wanted.... Huh. He does work in strange ways.

(Just high. Not religious.)

Yes including the bible. The current morality dates back to the enlightenment. Then the church leaders decided "well some parts of the bible agree with that" and co-opted it rather successfully. It was all "burn them all, god knows his own" before the enlightenment discovered some parts of the bible are actually nice.

This solution only works assuming that:

All former Catholics became "no religion" All new "no religion" are former Catholics. There are no categories aside from Catholic or "no religion". A static population.

That doesnt really mean anything lol

Thankfully Catholicism has never been one of the super anti-science denominations, they have that going for them at least. I come from an Irish Catholic family and never ran into any troubles with studying science, my mum even had a convent education and still managed to become a microbiologist.

84% of people know that

The Catholic population decrease was a change in percentage points. In other words 78% of people used to identify as Catholics and now 72% do, which is a 7.7% change (72 is 92.3% of 78)

The "no religion" increase was a percentage change, meaning the total population went from 5.8% to 10% "no religion".

So they are mixing terms. They should have either said Catholics decrease by 6% points and "no religion" increases by 4.2% points, or Catholics decrease by 7.7% and "no religion" increase by 74%.

Another way to look at it is this. There's a pie cut into 4 pieces and you have 1 slice and I have 3. You have 25% and I have 75%.

I give you one of my slices. We now each have 50% of the pie. You could report that as you gained 25% points and I lost 25% points, or you could say I lost 33.3% of what I had and you gained 100% of what you had. But saying I lost 25% and you gained 100% is mixing the terms and is confusing.

This just isn't true. At least not regarding christianity (I don't know too much about other religions). I remember from my medieval history course that the way joe averageguy was treated improved markedly as 'being in line with christianity' became an important part of having the right to rule.

Besides the appearance of charities, orphanages, etc, a lot of things that could be easily excused under the prechristian system (such as killing a whole village, etc after you take it) decreased markedly because it reflected extremely poorly on the 'christian-ness' of the ruler. Of course it didn't stop, but what the people expected from their rulers increased significantly because they had to be in line with new testament teaching.

Anyway, the morality of the enlightenment is really just the new testament divorced from religion (not complaining here).

I respectfully disagree. I think the concept of hell is something that nobody, not even the most vile people in the world, deserve. It is punishment for punishment's sake. It is eternal. It isn't interested in rehabilitating people, it's an "eye for an eye" system of punishment, which I disagree with.

Infinite punishment for a finite crime is unacceptable, no matter how bad the crime. Think about it: if hell were real, there would be people suffering there in a million or twenty billion years. I don't think any crime deserves eternal punishment.

Yeah, some people get away with being sick bastards. Others die and that's it. No more punishment for them. But sometimes life is just unfaor and torturing someone forever because of something they did in a limited amount, no matter how vile, is absolutely disgusting. It puts the torturer on the same level as the people being punished.

It's even worse if you consider that this comes from an omnipresent god who would have to have foresight of all this and would know that person was hellbound an eternity before they existed. And that god is also omnipotent but doesn't change anything about it. That's just sick.

Education wise, you're not missing out on much by going to a Catholic school here. Religion classes had a bigger focus on learning about other religions and when looking at stories from the bible it was usually looking at them metaphorically and discussing the meaning behind different things. Physics, biology and chemistry are still a big part of what's taught along with discussing evolution.

74% increase. Not 74% of all people.

Whatever the numbers were before, add 74% and that's how many. So if there were 100 "no religion" people last year, and there are 174 this year, this would mean a 74% increase.

It's a false number. A lot of people identify as Catholic because of cultural identity tradition. And all it takes is to tick a box on a census. Nowhere near 78% of the country goes to mass every week.

As an atheist, Hell is what I miss most. So many assholes fuck up other people's lives, live a long an filthy rich life and die old. It's this injustice that makes me want a hell to exist.

Christianity might die off. Islam doesn't look like it's going anywhere if anything it's growing.

Sadly religion (even in the civilized world) will always exist in an small percentage.

Some people don't care if it's made up or not, they just need to think that there are an afterlife and people in power will keep brainwashing them.

Everyone here needs to be nice to each other and respect each other, regardless of what they believe. These comments are cancer.

You're right - Islamic countries are much more civilized now in how they kill gay people. Throw them off buildings, hang them, decapitate them. Oh, wait. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, they still have stonings.

That doesn’t change the fact that the headline is a lie. If a clarification within the article is required to make the headline not a lie, then the headline is a lie.

No. The numbers in the title are meaningless unless you knew the population of each group before. 6% decrease in a group is tiny, except the article actually says percentage points, so it's 6% of the total population, not 6% of the catholic population. This whole article really should just be a graph or a table with the relevant population numbers, because all the words they added aren't helping.

I'm not a Catholic, but many Catholics here in Ireland don't seem to follow these "barbaric and absolutely horrifying moral rules" you mentioned. They all use their faith as a source of guidance and charity in times of hardship.

Don't mind him, he must have gotten into the toilet duck again.

Wonderfully ignorant statement there

You are judging barbaric times by modern standards - it's not fair. Everyone back then was barbaring whether religious or not. As far as modern religion goes - i'd say it's confirmation bias. You only hear about the bad things (paedophile pastors, muslim extremists, etc.), but if anyone does a generally good thing, which is kind of their job, they won't get global or national attention.

United States: Moose population increases by 7%; number of murders increases 13%.

78% of people aren't going to mass every week here. Majority of that is people who don't practice, and maybe go round Christmas or weddings. They wouldn't go as far to call themselves atheists.



Title: Percentage Points

Title-text: Grayton also proposed making college scholarships available exclusively to sexually active teens, amnesty for illegal immigrants who create room for themselves by killing a citizen, and a graduated income tax based on penis size. He has been endorsed by Tracy Morgan, John Wilkes Booth's ghost, and the Time Cube guy.

Comic Explanation

Stats: This comic has been referenced 89 times, representing 0.0522% of referenced xkcds. | xkcd sub | Problems/Bugs? | Statistics | Stop Replying | Delete


Title: Percentage Points

Title-text: Grayton also proposed making college scholarships available exclusively to sexually active teens, amnesty for illegal immigrants who create room for themselves by killing a citizen, and a graduated income tax based on penis size. He has been endorsed by Tracy Morgan, John Wilkes Booth's ghost, and the Time Cube guy.

Comic Explanation

Stats: This comic has been referenced 89 times, representing 0.0522% of referenced xkcds. | xkcd sub | Problems/Bugs? | Statistics | Stop Replying | Delete

Guessing 8% of Ireland is no religion, up from 6%, or close to, as a six percent drop of the one precipitates the 74% rise in the other.

Edit: 5%, not 2%. Mistype people.

Because of information. It was so easy 20 years ago to say "Yeah no the bible is totally historically accurate" and people would have to take days and likely have spend money to research that claim.

It's still very much that way in many Islamic countries, especially considering anything that would contradict their claims is often sought out and banned. But I imagine Islam will have a semi-renaissance soon.

The morality of the enlightenment was a completely new thing, constructed from largely first principles, that the New Testament happened to agree with on some counts.

78% 'Catholic', over 70% of them don't believe in transubstantiation! Cultural catholics, not actual catholics

Meh, Life before you were born was fine and you didn't have a care. Life after you die will be the same, just like sleeping. Your body will become parts of other things and time will continue as it has for some billions of years.

Religiosity is moderately heritable, actually. Identical twins raised in separate families are more similar in their religious beliefs than fraternal twins raised in separate families, implying genes produce some of our proclivity towards being religious or not.

Martin et al. (1986), in the first genetic analysis of religiosity, reported significant heritable effects on beliefs regarding such matters as the importance of observing the Sabbath and truthfulness of the Bible. This work was replicated and extended by Waller, Kojetin, Bouchard, Lykken, and Tellegen (1990) showing that individual differences in religious attitudes, the importance of religion, and interests in religion were all significantly influenced by genes. Subsequent work across numerous studies has corroborated these earlier positive findings indicating that religious beliefs and practices contain moderate heritable influences

Then catholics are prolific too

I hope it brings us closer to the day where reunification vs. partition seems unimportant and anachronistic...although I wouldn't want to lose the related memes from the Irish Simpsons Fans Facebook page.

Islam is growing in the west though..

People are inherently superstitious.


Even if you get this shit would you really understand what's going on if you only read the headline?

Cause nothing compares


This. Actual morality/moral behaviour is based on social instincts, and has been demonstrated in other species as well.

Yes for the bzzt on athiesm. I don't really label myself as anything, I just look on in wonder. I'm totally open to the question, I just have nothing. Insufficent data. I can't base my life on it. I don't understand how others can.

this one seems more directly relevant to me


They identify as Catholic because they don't identify as anything else - that's it. They were born to Catholic parents, baptised, raised in Catholic traditions, and they're comfortable enough to not feel the need to seek anything else.

The 6% drop is interesting because it means more people ARE choosing to identify as something else, even if it's a protest "anything but Catholic" in the form of "no religion." That's the place I find myself in, even though I'm not Irish. Raised Catholic, still Christian, but don't really go to church at all any more because I'm so angry over the last 2000 years of bullshit.

0.06 p = 0.74 * (1 - p)

p = 0.74 / 0.8 = 92.5% Catholic; => 86.5% following the decline. It's still Father Ted.

Yea I never know whether the author means went from 40% to 34% or went from 40% to 38.4%

It’s not growing due to more people being converted. It’s growing as a portion of the total population due to immigration and immigrants having more people and will fall again eventually as children grow up with a free internet and surrounded by atheists and realise it’s all bullshit.

Growth rates for Islam are slowing down.

My Science teacher in Ireland was a Nun lol

prefer the oul Dreamy sleepy nighty snoozy snooze myself.

All other things held equal, and assuming there are only Catholics and persons of no religion in Ireland, based on the Wikipedia estimate of 6,378,000 population the numbers are as follows.

Before: 5,899,650 Catholics and 478,350 no religion After: 5,545,671 Catholics and 832,329 no religion

Since there are almost certainly other religions represented in Ireland, you can probably assume those numbers to be bigger than actual.

Edit: changed references to atheists to “no religion”

Hat tip to u/umaOnda for clarifying that no religion does not mean the same as not religious.

At least they won't refuse to bake a gay cake. /s

We will see the death of religion within our lifetimes

Oh how precious. Bless your optimistic heart.

Thank you for getting to the body of the argument

Some people like to simplify it to a matter of Catholic Ireland vs Protestant Ireland, but its so much more complicated than that.

That population will be for the 32 counties (republic of Ireland and northern ireland) reported statistics are for the republic of Ireland only.

I'm confused... You say you're a priest but you have a wife?... Are you Byzantine rite maybe?...

E: Apparently there is a TV show I am unaware of....

people who genuinely believe this

Yeah but no. They claim that because it's good propaganda, they can keep themselves convinced with that. And it makes religion sound necessary. Truth is, without religion, they'd be about the same. Proof is in the fact that when they want something, they twist their religion or ignore their religion, and obtain it anyway. There's a reason most of the people who get arrested in the US were Christians upon being arrested. There's a reason atheists/agnostics are disproportionately non-criminals, despite being "godless".

Being good and being moral and getting along with others has more to do with intelligence and self-control than any religious books or rulesets. The idea that religion somehow brings more peace into society can be disproven by looking at the US (primarily Christian) and the fact that this nation jails more people per capita than any other. We are the most criminal country, a mainly Christian country, and the criminals are disproportionately Christian on their arrest (not that Islam is any better, or the rest).


What could go wrong? ... ...

To be more accurate, "no religion" does not equate to "atheist" either.

No, if hell were real, nobelievers would not "choose" to be sent there. Belief is not a choice. Many theists seem to think that atheists believe but supress their belief. This is not the case.

I do not believe in any god in the same way that I do not believe that there are magical pixies flying outside my window. No matter how much I would like to, I simply do not and cannot believe in them. The same is the case with a god or gods.

If not believing in something for which I cannot see any evidence to believe is choosing to go to hell, then refusing to give your money to someone who is robbing you, leading to a murder is committing suicide. This god, like the robber, is the one who is ultimately pulling the trigger / sending the person to hell.

I know, I was getting 78% from those who still said they were Catholic

It's only going to get worse (or better, depending on your take). We will see the death of religion within our lifetimes. At least in the civilized world, anyways.

Yeah, it's not like the Church literally stuffed babies into septic tanks to die down in Tuam. Or sold them to foreign nations for profit. That never happened in Ireland.

Catholics and Protestants was never really about religion though, you could be an atheist and still be labelled a catholic because of your family and where you live.

I've been reading through these comments and this is the first one worth responding to. I hope you have a good day :)

I don't get it, what could go wrong with teaching stats earlier?

Some 20 years ago I realized that I don't know if I believe in God, but I'm sure I don't believe in church

So I suppose you're an agnost? Because there's no proof of there being no God either, so there should be a bzzt sound for that as well.

My physics and biology teachers were both priests. They taught reproduction, climate change, the big bang, etc.

be nice to each other and respect each other

just like living my town in Catholic town in rural Ireland :)

I'm not sure what you are saying. Would you please elaborate?

So, what that actually means is that there are still a lot of Catholics and not many in the "no religion" category.

It's from rte, the Irish national broadcasting service. They're well known here for having shite management and standards.