As faith continues to falter, more than one fifth of all churches in the Netherlands have been converted into libraries, apartments, offices, and other secular spaces.
The shift is part of the continuing secularization of the country, which has been happening since the 1880s. As recently as 2016, two-thirds of Dutch people said they have no religious faith whatsoever.
Of the 6,900 church buildings in the country, one fifth of those built before 1800, which classifies them as national monuments, have been transformed into secular spaces, according to The Tablet. And of those built since that time, nearly one-quarter are now being used for other purposes.
It is, according to the Protestant Dutch newspaper Trouw, less likely for Catholic churches than Protestant churches to be repurposed.
“For Roman Catholics the church is sacred, for Protestants the church is useful,” the paper explained. “As a result, Roman Catholics are more reluctant to give their churches a different function.”
In addition, Catholics seemed much more concerned about how their former sanctuaries would be used. They prefer the churches be used for social and cultural activities while Protestant buildings were more likely to be converted to apartments and office spaces.
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