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National / Regional Profiles

Included Nations/Regions: Estonia [x], Northern Europe [x], The World [x]


Religion and State (RAS) Indexes1

Religion Indexes (Estonia)

State Funding of Religion
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 68/253
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 148/253
State Regulation of Majority or All Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 85/253
State Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 145/253
For details on how these indexes were constructed, click here

Estonia: Major World Religions (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2

The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims.


Estonia: Largest Religious Groups (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2

The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Catholics, doubly-affiliated, Mahayanists, Shias, Sunnis, Vaishnavites.


Religious Adherents (World Religion Database 2020)2

Religion Estonia
[x]
Northern Europe
[x]
The World
[x]
Baha'is 0.04% 0.05% 0.11%
Buddhists 0.05% 0.31% 6.83%
--Mahayanists 0.05% 0.19% 4.89%
--Theravadins --- 0.07% 1.72%
--Lamaists --- 0.05% 0.23%
Chinese folk-religionists --- 0.07% 5.98%
Christians 37.29% 70.50% 32.16%
--unaffiliated Christians 9.50% 10.39% 1.46%
--Orthodox 12.06% 1.49% 3.75%
--Catholics 0.44% 12.30% 15.90%
--Protestants 14.47% 43.97% 7.51%
--Independents 1.01% 2.89% 5.00%
Daoists --- --- 0.11%
Confucianists --- 0.01% 0.11%
Ethnic religionists --- 0.04% 3.65%
Hindus 0.05% 0.69% 13.58%
--Vaishnavites 0.05% 0.17% 5.15%
--Shaivites --- 0.25% 4.86%
--Saktists --- 0.27% 3.57%
Jains --- 0.02% 0.08%
Jews 0.11% 0.30% 0.19%
Muslims 0.28% 5.53% 24.20%
--Sunnis 0.24% 5.05% 21.56%
--Shias 0.04% 0.46% 2.44%
--Islamic schismatics --- 0.02% 0.21%
New religionists --- 0.09% 0.85%
Shintoists --- --- 0.04%
Sikhs --- 0.55% 0.34%
Spiritists --- 0.08% 0.19%
Zoroastrians --- 0.00% 0.00%
Non-Religious 62.18% 21.75% 11.57%
--Agnostics 57.81% 19.41% 9.65%
--Atheists 4.37% 2.33% 1.92%

Religious demographics (Estonia)3

The country has an area of 17,666 square miles and a population of 1.36 million (including 68 percent ethnic Estonian, 26 percent Russian, 2 percent Ukrainian, 1 percent Belarusian, and 1 percent Finnish). Approximately 60 percent of the population does not claim a religion. Less than 29 percent of the population are members of Christian congregations. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church is the largest denomination, with 164 congregations and approximately 180,000 members. The Estonian Orthodox Church, subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate (EOCMP), has 30 congregations with an estimated 170,000 members, and the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOC) has 61 congregations with approximately 25,000 members. The Roman Catholic Church has 9 congregations with an estimated 6,000 members. There are smaller communities of Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals, Old Believers, Methodists, and other religious groups. There is a Jewish community of approximately 2,500 members, with a community center, day school, and a synagogue that opened in May 2007, the only building in the country specifically designated for use as a synagogue. There are also small communities of Muslims, Buddhists, and other religious groups.

The ethnic Estonian majority is mainly Lutheran, while most religious adherents among the Russian-speaking population are Orthodox.

Fifty years of Soviet occupation diminished the role of religion in society. Many neighborhoods built since World War II do not have religious centers, and many of the surviving churches require extensive renovation. In May 2008 the Lutheran Nomme German Savior Church was consecrated after several years of renovation. In July 2007 St. James' Lutheran Church in Viimsi, the first new Lutheran church structure built in the country in almost six decades, was consecrated. This coastal church commemorates those who perished at sea. The national Government as well as Tallinn and other municipalities have their own ongoing projects for renovation of churches.

Summary Information

Estonia
[x]
Northern Europe
[x]
The World
[x]
Region Northern Europe The World --
Total Population4 1,282,158 101,396,610 7,335,774,068
Area in square miles 17,463 699,221 196,939,900
Life Expectancy from birth, in years5 77.1 80.2 71.9
Gross National Income per capita, in current international dollars5 28,920.0 44,226.0 16,101.0
Description of Polity Score6 (strongly democratic) -- --
Judicial Independence Composite Score, as average of scores for higher and lower courts7 2.5 2.4 0.8
Official Religion(s)8 None -- --

Religion and the State

Religion and State Collection (2014)

Estonia
[x]
Is proselytizing Legal?1 Yes
Is religious registration someties denied?1 There is no registration requirement
What are the consequences of registration?1 Groups need not register but registration is allowed or encouraged. This encouragement may include benefits given only to registered religions.
Official Support: The formal relationship between religion and state.1 Cooperation
The extent to which religious education is mandatory in public schools.1 Optional, or there is a choice between a religion and a non-religion course on topics like ethics, philosophy, or religions of the world.
The extent to which funding is exclusive to one or a few religions.1 Government funding of religion goes to only some religions for which there are a substantial number of adherents in the country.
The extent to which there are religious requirements and oaths for holding office.1 There are no religious requirements or oaths necessary in order to hold office.

Constitutional Features [ View Excerpts]

Constitution

Estonia
[x]
Constitution Year10 1992
Last Amended10 2015
Source10 Constitute Project
Translation10 Source is an English translation.
Current as of10 July 29, 2018

Public Opinion (Estonia)

(Calculated by the ARDA from the World Values Survey)11
1990 1996 1999 2011
Religious Affiliation/Identification
Percent belonging to a religious denomination. 12.8 27.3 25.1 34.7
Percent identifying as a religious person. 21.2 35.6 41.6 32.8
Percent raised religious. 15.4 17 --- ---
Religious Behaviors
Percent attending religious services at least once a month. --- 8.6 11.2 7.6
Percent praying to God more than once per week. --- --- 14.7 12.8
Percent that meditate or pray. --- --- 50.8 ---
Percent attending religious services at least once a month when 12 years old. --- --- 8.6 ---
Percent that changed denominations. --- --- 6.4 ---
Percent active in a church or religious organization. --- 2.4 --- 3.8
Percent never consulting a horoscope. --- --- 25.5 ---
Religious Beliefs
Percent believing in God. --- 51.8 51.4 50
Percent believing in heaven. --- 20.6 19.3 ---
Percent believing in hell. --- 17.2 16.5 21.2
Percent believing in life after death. --- 28.7 36.2 ---
Percent believing that there are clear guidelines on good and evil. 22.9 31.8 30.1 ---
Percent believing that politicians who do not believe in God are unfit for public office. --- --- 14.3 ---
Percent believing that religious leaders should not influence people's vote. --- --- 84.5 ---
Percent believing that things would be better if there are more people with strong religious beliefs. --- --- 25.6 ---
Percent that think that religious faith is an important quality in children --- --- --- 18.8
Percent that agree: We depend too much on science and not enough on faith --- --- --- 33.4
Percent believing church gives answers to people's spiritual needs. --- --- 72.8 ---
Percent that do not trust people of other religions --- --- --- 55.3
Percent believing church gives answers on family life problems. --- --- 30.5 ---
Percent believing churches give answers to moral problems. --- --- 45.5 ---
Percent that often think about meaning and purpose of life --- --- --- 32.3
Percent believing churches give answers to social problems. --- --- 14.1 ---
Percent believing that religious leaders should influence the government. --- --- 7.8 ---
Percent believing that people have a soul. --- 63.5 --- ---
Percent believing in the concept of sin. --- 56.6 52.4 ---
Percent believing religious services are important for deaths. 72.2 --- 75.6 ---
Percent believing religious services are important for births. 65.6 --- 63.7 ---
Percent believing religious services are important for marriages. 64.3 --- 64.8 ---
Percent believing in a personal God. 6.7 --- 15.9 ---
Percent believing in telepathy. --- --- 54.8 ---
Percent believing in re-incarnation. --- --- 37 ---
Percent believing in the devil's existence. --- 26 --- ---
Percent that think that it is more important to follow religious norms and ceremonies than to do good for other people --- --- --- 34.5
Percent that think the meaning of religion is to make sense of life in this world --- --- --- 75.4
Percent that agree that whenever science and religion conflict, religion is always right --- --- --- 12.1
Percent that agree that the "only acceptable religion is my religion." --- --- --- 30.4
Percent that agree that all religions should be taught in public schools --- --- --- 47.1
Percent that agree, "People who belong to different religions are probably just as moral as those who belong to mine." --- --- --- 82.9
Percent that agree, "One of the bad effects of science is that it breaks down people’s ideas of right and wrong." --- --- --- 30.1
Religious Experiences
Percent finding comfort and strength from religion. --- 84.5 36 ---
Percent saying that they have a lucky charm. --- --- 20.8 ---
Percent considering that a lucky charm definitely does not provide protection. --- --- 29.3 ---
Attitudes
Percent considering religion important. 18.6 28 22 25.7
Percent considering that God is not at all important in their life. --- 23.6 21.9 23.5
Percent confident in religious organizations. 53.8 60.3 44.1 63.9
Politics
Percent thinking that churches have an influence on national politics. --- --- --- 10.8

Socio-Economic Measures

Military Measures

Estonia
[x]
Northern Europe
[x]
The World
[x]
Composite Index of National Capability, in fraction of 118 0.0001812 0.0023169 0.005162584
2012 Military expenditure (% of GDP)5 1.9 1.8 --

Other Measures on Religion, State, and Society


Constitution Clauses Related to Religion


Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion) (Estonia)10

Article 8.

No one shall be deprived of Estonian citizenship because of his or her beliefs.

Article 12.

Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall be discriminated against on the basis of … religion …

The incitement of … religious … hatred, violence or discrimination shall, by law, be prohibited and punishable. …

Article 40.

Everyone has freedom of conscience, religion and thought.

Everyone may freely belong to churches and religious societies. There is no state church.

Everyone has the freedom to exercise his or her religion, both alone and in community with others, in public or in private, unless this is detrimental to public order, health or morals.

Article 41.

Everyone has the right to remain faithful to his or her opinions and beliefs. No one shall be compelled to change them.

Beliefs shall not excuse a violation of the law.

No one shall bear legal liability because of his or her beliefs.

Article 42.

State agencies, local governments, and their officials shall not gather or store information about the beliefs of an Estonian citizen against the citizen’s free will.

Article 45.

Everyone has the right to freely disseminate … beliefs … by word, print, picture or other means.

Article 124.

A person who refuses to serve in the Armed Forces for religious … reasons has a duty to perform alternative service pursuant to procedure prescribed by law.

Variable Details

  • For more details on State Funding of Religion (FUN_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions (SOC_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on State Regulation of Majority or All Religions (NXX_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on State Discrimination of Minority Religions (MXX_4CAT) see this document.
  • Sources

    1 The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel and is directed by Jonathan Fox. Round 3 of the RAS includes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states and offers annual measures from 1990 to 2014. The methods used for conducting the RAS3 collection and the complete codebook can be reviewed online. Or, the codebook and data file can be downloaded free of charge here. For details on how the RAS indexes reported on the ARDA’s National Profiles were coded, constructed, and placed into categories, click here.

    2 Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim, eds. World Religion Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2022).

    3 The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

    4 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    5 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

    6 The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) is engaged in innovative research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system. The Center supports scientific research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal-systemic development processes. The Center continually monitors political behavior in each of the world's major states and reports on emerging issues and persisting conditions related to the problems of political violence and "state failure." A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission. *Note: Polity Scores range from -10 to 10 and include the following categories: -10 to -9: strongly autocratic, -8 to -7 autocratic, -6 to -4 weakly autocratic, -3 to +3 anocratic, +4 to +6 weakly democratic, +7 to +8 democratic, +9 to +10 strongly democratic.

    7 Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is a new approach to conceptualizing and measuring democracy. V-Dem provides a multidimensional and disaggregated dataset that reflects the complexity of the concept of democracy as a system of rule that goes beyond simple presence of elections. The V-Dem project distinguishes between seven high-level principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, egalitarian, majoritarian, and consensual, and collects data to measure these principles. A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission.

    8 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    9 Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    10 Text from country constitutions was copied from primary documents obtained online using a variety of sources, including the Constitute Project, World Constitutions Illustrated, and government sources. When the text was in a language other than English, it was translated to English by ARDA staff or with web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to differentiate religious content from non-religious content. Text is current to the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

    11 The World Values Survey is a worldwide investigation of socio-cultural and political change. It is conducted by a network of social scientists at leading universities around the world. Interviews have been carried out with nationally representative samples of the publics of more than 80 societies. A total of four waves have been carried out since 1981. The ARDA has averaged the weighted responses across the waves for each country surveyed. The average responses for all countries have been placed in a single file and can be previewed and downloaded here. See the World Values Survey website for further information and to download the original survey data: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/.

    12 Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that offers measures of the extent to which governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and women are guaranteed. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    13 The CIA's World Factbook was created as an annual summary and update to the now defunct National Intelligence Survey (NIS) studies. The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971. The NIS program was terminated in 1973 except for the Factbook, map, and gazetteer components. The 1975 Factbook was the first to be made available to the public with sales through the US Government Printing Office (GPO). The year 2010 marks the 67th year of the World Factbook and its predecessor programs. The maps and flags are also from the World Factbook, which is an open source.

    14 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

    15 The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is a systematic, empirical measurement of economic freedom in countries throughout the world. A set of objective economic criteria are used to study and grade various countries for the annual publication of the Index of Economic Freedom. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    16 The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    17 The 2013 Gender Inequality Index is a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market. It varies between zero (when women and men fare equally) and one (when men or women fare poorly compared to the other in all dimensions). The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate. The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels. The labor dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force. Source: The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    18 Military data is drawn from the National Material Capabilities (v4.0) dataset, which is a component of and hosted by the Correlates of War Project. The Correlates of War Project seeks to facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations. Correlates of War data may be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.

    19 The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.

    20 The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset contains standards-based quantitative information on government respect for 15 internationally recognized human rights for 202 countries, annually from 1981-2011. It is designed for use by scholars and students who seek to test theories about the causes and consequences of human rights violations, as well as policy makers and analysts who seek to estimate the human rights effects of a wide variety of institutional changes and public policies including democratization, economic aid, military aid, structural adjustment, and humanitarian intervention. The full CIRI Human Rights Dataset can be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.

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