The percentage of Icelanders that are registered in the Church of Iceland has gone below 60% for the first time, Kjarninn reports. Newly released data from Registers Iceland reveals that 59.4% of Icelanders are currently registered in the church, or 270.190 people in total. That number accounts for all of the currently registered individuals, regardless of residence or citizenship. Therefore, a substantial number of those Icelanders who are registered currently live abroad.
Registers Iceland states that 2.310 people left the Church of Iceland since the beginning of December 2017 to September 2018. That decrease is following the trend of events in recent years. Around 90% of Icelanders were registered in the Church of Iceland close to the turn of the millennium. The record year for de-registrations was set in 2010, due to the church's handling of the alleged sexual crimes of Ólafur Skúlason, an ex-Bishop of Iceland. 4.242 individuals left the Church of Iceland that year.
A majority of those not in the Church of Iceland are registered outside of religion and view-of-life groups, just over 28.000 people in total. The largest increase in a religious group was with Catholics, which increased by 2.8%, or 530 people in total. This can be traced to the increase of foreign citizens in Iceland from countries where the Catholic church has a good standing, such as Poland. On the 1st of January 1998, there were 820 individuals residing in Iceland which were born in Poland. That number had grown to over 17.000 people by the end of 2017.
The existence of the Church of Iceland, which is an evangelical Lutheran church, is secured in the Icelandic constitution. It is stated that the evangelical Lutheran church shall be the national church of Iceland and that government authorities shall protect and support the institution.