Irreligion in Spain

Irreligion in Spain is a phenomenon that has existed since at least the 17th century.[2] Secularism became relatively popular (although the majority of the society was still very religious) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, often associated with anti-clericalism and progressive, republican, anarchist or socialist movements.[3]

Religious self-definition in Spain (September 2021)[1]

  Roman Catholic (57.4%)
  No religion (38.9%)
  Other (2.5%)
  Did not answer (1.3%)

During the Second Spanish Republic (1931–1936) Spain became a secular state, placing limitations on the activity of the Catholic Church and expelling the church from education. During the Spanish civil war irreligious people were repressed by the Francoist side, while religion was largely persecuted among the republicans.

During the Francoist Spain period (1939–1975) irreligion was not tolerated, following the national-catholic ideology of the regime; Spanish citizens had to be Catholic by law, though this changed after the Second Vatican Council. Irreligious people could not be public workers or express their thoughts openly.

After the Spanish democratic transition (1975–1982), restrictions on irreligion were lifted.[4] In the last decades religious practice has fallen dramatically and irreligion has grown in popularity.[5]


According to a 2018 study by the Ferrer i Guàrdia Foundation, 27% of Spanish people are either atheist, agnostic or non-believers, with 49% of 18-24 year olds in one of those categories.[6] A survey by Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas in October 2014 showed that 67.8 percent of Spanish people would today describe themselves as Catholic, although only 16.9 percent of Spanish people attend mass at least once a month. 10.8% define themselves as atheist and a further 16.7% as non-believers.[7][8] In 2008, several reports[citation needed] indicated that as much as 60% of the population of Madrid and its metropolitan area identified as non-religious. According to a 2009 study, the 46% of Spaniards aged 18–24 declare themselves atheist or agnostic.[9] In 2019, a study carried out by the CIS found that 48.9% of Spaniards aged 18-24 declared themselves atheist or agnostic, therefore becoming a majority over those who declared themselves as religious.[10]

In governmentEdit

The close alliance of Francoist Spain and the Catholic Church is said to have had a considerable amount of influence on the decline of religion in Spain.[11] The prevalence of the Church on the people and the subsequent end of the Spanish State caused the Spanish to detach themselves from Catholicism as political coercion was relaxed.[11] In the 16 years after the transition from a dictatorship to democracy, there was a significant drop in levels of religious practice. According to Miguel and Stanek, there was a 14% decrease in religious practice in Spain in just those 16 years, decreasing at an annual rate of −2.1%.[11]

In 1966 Francoist Spain passed a law that freed other religions from many of their earlier restrictions, although it also reaffirmed the privileges of the Catholic Church.[12] In 1978 the new Constitution confirmed the right of Spaniards to religious freedom and began disestablishing Catholicism as the state religion and declaring that religious liberty for non-Catholics is a government-protected right.[12]

Freedom of ideology, religion, and worship is guaranteed, to individuals and communities with no other restriction on their expression than may be necessary to maintain public order as protected by law.[8]

No one may be compelled to make statements regarding his or her ideology, religion, or beliefs.[8]

There is no state religion. The public authorities shall take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and shall consequently maintain appropriate cooperative relations with the Catholic Church and other denominations.[8]

The process of secularization was already clearly recognizable by the end of the eighteenth century. The depth, influence, and continuity of Spain's liberal and democratic traditions are particularly important in trying to understand the values connected with the ideals of tolerance and religious freedom. Seen in this light, it becomes clear why Spain in particular was one of the first countries in the world to introduce women's rights and why the divorce law of the Second Republic (1931–1936) was one of the most progressive ever passed. It is the foundation for today's law on same-sex marriage, which has led to conflict recently.[8]

Although more than 19 out of every 20 Spaniards were baptized Catholics, the secularization process has become more intense both on an institutional level as well as in the everyday lives of the people. It is argued that in return for the subsidy that the Church receives, society receives the social, health, and educational services of tens of thousands of priests and nuns. Instead, a system was set up to allow citizens to delegate up to 10% of their pay check to the church so that it was no longer government funded.

In educationEdit

There exists an inverse relationship between the level of education and the social significance of religion.[11] By 1980, a study was conducted that showed the more educated a person was, the more likely he or she was to be irreligious.[12] This is attributed to the Church's new self-restraint in politics. The church began accepting the need for separation of religion and the state.[11]


Unión de Ateos y Librepensadores (UAL)Edit

The UAL is a new organization based in Barcelona which promotes atheism and unites atheists within Spain.[13] The first post on their website is dated 11 January 2008, but they do not have information about their founding.[13] The goal of the group is to inform Spanish-speakers who want to know more about atheism and unite those who have already chosen the atheist lifestyle.[13] Their website contains links to atheist books, groups, and articles.[13] The group has scheduled meetings every Thursday.[13] They host events monthly with atheist speakers and writers.[13] Similar local groups also exist within each autonomous community of Spain.[13]

Irreligious public figuresEdit



See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ CIS."Barómetro de Septiembre de 2021", 3,780 respondents. The question was "¿Cómo se define Ud. en materia religiosa: católico/a practicante, católico/a no practicante, creyente de otra religión, agnóstico/a, indiferente o no creyente, o ateo/a?".
  2. ^ Andreu Navarra Ordoño. El ateísmo. La aventura de pensar libremente en España. Editorial Cátedra, Madrid, 2016.
  3. ^ Alfonso Pérez-Agote. Sociología histórica del nacional-catolicismo español. Universidad Complutense de Madrid,
  4. ^ España aconfesional y católica.
  5. ^ España ha dejado de ser católica practicante.
  6. ^ "El Pais English" (15 April 2019). "Losing their religion? New report shows Spaniards are turning their backs on faith". Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  7. ^ Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (Centre for Sociological Research) (October 2014). "Barómetro octubre 2014" (PDF). p. 27. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e Costa, Xavier. "Spain between tradition and the modern". euro|topics. Archived from the original on 20 July 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  9. ^ Los jóvenes españoles se declaran abiertamente ateos o agnósticos. El Correo Gallego, 29 July 2009.
  10. ^ País, Ediciones El (20 April 2019). "5 gráficos sobre la religiosidad en los jóvenes españoles". Verne (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e Requena, Stanek, Miguel, Mikolaj. "International Sociology". International Sociological Association. Sage Publications. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  12. ^ a b c Scofield, James. "Spain: Religion". Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g admin. "Unión de ateos y librepensadores". Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  14. ^ El diccionario de Zapatero.] El País, 2009
  15. ^ Manuela Carmena: "Soy agnóstica pero me gusta mucho el Papa".
  16. ^ Esta semana: Carod-Rovira. El Mundo, 2006.
  17. ^ [Cifuentes pide al PP que mantenga los derechos de los homosexuales.] Cadena SER, 14 February 2012.
  18. ^ Fallece el escritor argentino Horacio Vázquez-Rial. El País, Barcelona 6 September 2012
  19. ^ "Para un agnóstico la ciencia es algo a lo que agarrarse" Faro de Vigo, 2012.
  21. ^ Ateo por la gracia de Dios: Buñuel y la religión.
  22. ^ Javier Bardem: "Siempre he dicho que no creo en Dios, creo en Al Pacino". 20 Minutos, 24 September 2010.
  23. ^ Antonia San Juan: "Las religiones son el auténtico cáncer de todas las culturas". AmbienteG, 5 November 2009.
  24. ^ Pío Baroja, "el hombre malo de Itzea".
  25. ^ Javier Cercas: "Quien no asuma riesgos, que no sea escritor".
  26. ^ Najat El Hachmi: "Em sembla molt negatiu que per mostrar dubtes sobre el procés sobiranista siguis llençat a la foguera". El Crític, 4 July 2015.
  27. ^ Picasso bajo la lupa del Psicoanálisis.
  28. ^ Carta de un ateo a Zapatero., 2011.
  29. ^ Ignacio Fernández Toxo, el hombre que durante 4 años fue Ángel Luna González. 20 Minutos, 2010.
  30. ^ Pedro Sánchez, primer aspirante a La Moncloa que se declara abiertamente "ateo". El Plural, 2014.
  31. ^ El monaguillo Pablo Iglesias. El Mundo, 1 June 2014.
  32. ^ Albert Rivera: "El PP y el PSOE son partidos tóxicos". La Vanguardia, 1 July 2015.
  33. ^ Xosé Manuel Beiras: "Continuamos a estar sometidos ao colonialismo lingüístico"
  34. ^ Javier Nart: «Se puede ser rojo y ateo en Ciudadanos; yo lo soy y no lo he ocultado». ABC, 2016.
  35. ^ [Andreu Navarra Ordoño. El ateísmo. La aventura de pensar libremente en España. Editorial Cátedra, Madrid, 2016. Pages 53 and 54.]
  36. ^ Abel Paz: Durruti en la revolución española. 1978
  38. ^ Andreu Navarra Ordoño. El ateísmo. La aventura de pensar libremente en España. Editorial Cátedra, Madrid, 2016. Page 97.
  39. ^ El legado invisible de Ortega y Gasset. El Periódico de Catalunya, 28 May 2014.
  40. ^ La Biblia del ateo. El País, 14 May 2008.
  41. ^ Gustavo Bueno: Cuestiones cuodlibetales sobre Dios y la religión. Madrid: Mondadori, 1989.
  42. ^ Crítica a las religiones – Fernando Savater.
  43. ^ Muere el escritor y activista Shangay Lily Muere el escritor y activista Shangay Lily. El Periódico de Catalunya, 12 April 2016.