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Swiss Metadatabase of Religious Affiliation in Europe (SMRE)

Swiss Metadatabase of Religious Affiliation in Europe (SMRE)

Religious Affiliation in Europe – an Empirical Problem

The role of religion in European societies has become a prominent topic of public and academic debate. In the context of contemporary European societies questions concerning religion figure large when it comes to identities and social integration. The role of the different Christian traditions, the degree of secularization and the status of more recently immigrated religious minorities, especially of Muslims, are contested.
Consequently, statistics on religious affiliation are frequently used (or mis-used) as political arguments. Data on religious affiliation are regularly brought forward in debates about the strength, predominance and acceptance of various religious groups.

Despite the growing importance of this statistical information, social science research has thus far paid little attention to the question of religious affiliation and its precise measurement. In fact, social scientists (as well as politicians) use figures on religious affiliation which, to the surprise of an empirically minded researcher, vary greatly. Moreover, for Europe as a whole as for important European countries such as France and Great Britain it is currently impossible to give reliable figures on the religious affiliation of its population.

The Swiss Metadatabase of Religious Affiliation in Europe (SMRE) has been set up to change this situation. Over the course of three years, data from a wide range of sources have been collected by two researchers from the University of Lucerne. These data were integrated into a new database designed especially for this purpose. The SMRE-base is part of the subproject #4 of the university research program Religion und gesellschaftliche Integration in Europa (REGIE) at the University of Lucerne, which funded its first phase of development. The new metadatabase includes statistics on religious affiliation for 42 European countries (including Turkey) covering two periods of reporting, namely 2000 (1996-2005) and 2010 (2006-2015).

The following pages introduce you to the project, its metadatabase and the essential findings from a first comparative analysis of our data.