, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 209-220

Secularization in the Netherlands in its historical and geographical dimensions

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The Netherlands is one of the most secularized countries in the western world. The aim of this paper is to put the secularization process in both historical and geographical perspective. As a mass process secularization started in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and accelerated from the sixties of this century onwards. The first concentrations of non-denominationalism could be found in the (Protestant) countryside of Friesland and Groningen as a consequence of profound social cleavages. Then, the big cities in the west took part in the process and more recently even the Catholic areas were affected due to the cultural revolution of the sixties and early seventies. Two counterforces were analysed: a religious revival within the Protestant community and the increasing proportion of Muslims and Hindus as a consequence of immigration and high fertility levels.