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Religious belonging and religious demography

The importance of the ethnic aspect

Romania is a predominantly Orthodox country where no less than 18,817,975 citizens out of a total of 21,680,974 say they belong to this religion, representing a significant percentage (86.79%) (...)

Romania is a predominantly Orthodox country where no less than 18,817,975 citizens out of a total of 21,680,974 say they belong to this religion, representing a significant percentage (86.79%) (N.I.S. – National Institute of Statistics- Census, 2002). A large proportion (18,251,823 people) belong to the Romanian ethnic group. In addition there are 345,557 Roman Catholic Romanians, 17,446 Reformed Romanians, 160,896 Greek-Catholics, 276,481 Pentecostalists, 107,405 Baptists, 78,225 Seventh-Day Adventists, 1,153 Unitarians, 3,310 Muslims, 39,903 Evangelical Christians, 9,775 Old Rite Christians, 2,218 Presbyterian Lutherans, 14,325 Reformed protestants (Calvinists), 1,471 Protestants of Augsburg confession and 893 Jews. 67,200 people belong to another religion, 7,904 say they do not belong to any religion, 6,671 are atheist and 6,941 have no declared religion (N.I.S. Census, Bucarest, 2002).
The number of Romanians belonging to the Reformed, Jewish or Muslim religion can be explained by mixed marriages, which also explains why some Magyars (Hungarians) and Germans belong to the Orthodox religion.

D 2 October 2012    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe

Religious belonging and population groups

The Magyars (Hungarians) represent the largest minority in Romania with 1, 431, 807 people. The belong to different religious groups: Reformed (665, 343), Roman Catholic (587, 033), Orthodox (28, (...)

The Magyars (Hungarians) represent the largest minority in Romania with 1, 431, 807 people. The belong to different religious groups: Reformed (665, 343), Roman Catholic (587, 033), Orthodox (28, 287), Greek-Catholic (19, 645), Baptist (12, 963), Seventh-Day Adventist (9, 055), Pentecostalist (56, 971), Muslim (56), Evangelical Christian (1, 810), Old Rite Christian (129), Presbyterian Lutheran (15, 205), Protestant (1, 252), Augustinian Protestant (1, 354) and Jewish (164). Some belong to other religions (14, 104) or say they have no religion (2, 709), are atheist (612) or did not comment (N.I.S. Census 2002). It can be noted that over half of the Magyars in Romania belong to reformed religions, which are predominant in Transylvania. The Unitarian religion exclusively brings together Christians of Hungarian origin, the majority of which live in the counties of Cluj, Brasov, Covasna, Harghita and Mures. As for neo-Protestant religions, the Magyars seemed to be more partial to the Adventist and Baptist religions and less receptive to the Pentecostal and Evangelical Christian groups.

The Roma (Gypsies) represent, from a numerical point of view, the second largest ethnic minority in Romania, right after the Magyars. In the 2002 census, 535, 140 citizens said they were Roma, the majority of which were Orthodox (438, 162). The other Gypsies were primarily Roman Catholic (20, 310), Reformed (16, 385) and Greek-Catholic (6, 148). This can be explained by the fact that the majority of the group is concentrated in Transylvania, where these religions are predominant, but also by the fact that some Roma have Magyar as their mother tongue. Out of the neo-Protestant religions, Pentecostalism seems to be the most accepted by the Roma (34, 449), while Seventh-Day Adventism (4, 662) and the Baptist faith (4, 749) are least accepted (N.I.S. Census 2002). It seems that the actual number of Roma is much greater than the numbers mentioned here; many Roma prefer to declare themselves as ethnic Romanians for the censuses.

The German community of Romania is confronted with a constant numerical decrease that is on the rise. Its numbers dropped from 119, 462 in 1992 to a mere 59, 764 in 2002 (N.I.S. Censuses 1992 and 2002). This situation is due to emigration. Like the Magyars, the Germans are predominantly Roman Catholic (36, 040), Evangelical Presbyterian Lutheran (6, 358) and Augustinian Protestant (5, 317) (N.I.S. Census 2002).

Lastly, the majority of the Ukrainians in Romania (61, 098) are Orthodox (48, 262) or belong to neo-Protestant religions, Pentecostal (6, 167) being the one that is most represented.
These different population groups (Romanians, Magyar, Roma – Gypsies, Germans, Ukrainians) make up approximately 99% of the total population of Romania.

The other groups have a total of less than 40, 000 people each:
- 35, 791: the Lipovan Russians (who live in the North of the Dobroudja and particularly in the Delta of the Danube River) are predominantly Old Rite Christians (25, 675) and they follow the Julian calendar
- 32, 098: the majority of Turks are Sunnite Muslims (31, 118)
- 22, 561: the Serbs – they are predominantly Orthodox (20, 476) and follow the Julian calendar
- 23, 935: the Tatars (inhabitants of the former Republic of Tatars) are Muslim, for the most part Sunnites
- 17, 226: the Slovenians are a little more heterogeneous from a religious point of view: 11, 580 Roman Catholics, 3, 040 Evangelical Presbyterians and 679 Orthodox
- 8, 025 Bulgarians who are mainly Roman Catholic (6, 194) and Orthodox (1, 482)
- 6, 807 Croatians, the majority of which are Roman Catholics (6, 530)
- 6, 472 Greeks, predominantly Orthodox (6, 017)
- 5, 785 Jews
- 3, 941 Czechs who are primarily Roman Catholic (3, 325)
- 3, 288 Italians, 2, 506 of which are Roman Catholic
- 3, 559 Poles, the majority of which are Roman Catholic (3, 179)
- 2, 243 Chinese
- 1, 780 Armenians
- 1, 266 Csango Hungarians, an ethnic minority from the Bacau region, their language is similar to an archaic Hungarian dialect and they are well integrated into Romanian society
- 16, 850 people belong to other ethnic groups.

Source : N.I.S. Census 2002

An analysis of religious belief and national belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (May 2017) is available on the Pew Research Center website (full report available as a pdf document).

D 2 October 2012    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe

Demographic and religious changes

In Romania, religious identity is closely linked to ethnic identity as Romanians are predominantly Orthodox. On the whole, Romania has preserved its specific composition, even though since 1990, (...)

In Romania, religious identity is closely linked to ethnic identity as Romanians are predominantly Orthodox. On the whole, Romania has preserved its specific composition, even though since 1990, under the impact of development, some changes have started to occur. First of all, there was a drop of over one million inhabitants between the two censuses, from 22, 810, 035 in 1992 to 21, 680, 974 in 2002. The main causes are a severe decrease in the birth rate, the increase in the death rate and the considerable importance of emigration.
The evolution of the business sector since 1990 has also brought about the presence of a considerable amount of foreigners in Romania (approximately 20, 700), particularly Chinese, Syrians, and Arabs. This explains, for example, the increased numbers of the Muslim minority in Romania, from 55, 928 in 1992 to 67, 257 in 2002.

Source : N.I.S. Censuses 1992 and 2002.

D 2 October 2012    AManuela Gheorghe

Stability of the Orthodox Church

The successive population censuses of 1992 and 2002 show that the Romanian Orthodox Church is still the majority church. Although the total number of followers has dropped, from 19, 802, 389 to (...)

The successive population censuses of 1992 and 2002 show that the Romanian Orthodox Church is still the majority church. Although the total number of followers has dropped, from 19, 802, 389 to 18, 817, 975, this decrease (of approximately one million Christians) occurred at the same time as the significant decrease in the population came about (1, 129, 061 fewer inhabitants between 1992 and 2002). Religious affiliation, expressed as a percentage of the population, is therefore stable: approx. 86.8% in 1992, approx. 86.7% in 2002. Moreover, the increased offer on the religious market in Romania goes hand in hand with a decrease in (slow at present) interest in traditional religions. There has been a decrease in the number of members of these religions: for Catholics, from 1, 161, 942 (5.1%) in 1992 to 1, 026, 429 (4.73%) in 2002, for Greek-Catholics, from 233, 327 (1%) in 1992 to 191, 556 (0.81%) in 2002, for the Reformed, from 802, 454 (3.5%) in 1992 to 701, 077 (3.23%) in 2002, and so forth.

D 2 October 2012    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe

Increase in new religious movements

The neo-Protestant religions have evolved in the opposite direction, with their number of followers increasing. The Pentecostal religion comes in ahead as their number of followers increased from (...)

The neo-Protestant religions have evolved in the opposite direction, with their number of followers increasing. The Pentecostal religion comes in ahead as their number of followers increased from 220, 824 in 1992 to 324, 462 in 2002. These changes are explained and understood by the effects of secularisation and globalisation, the drop in the birth rate and the consequences of economic emigration in a context of sustained social transition and poverty.

D 2 October 2012    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe

Religious belonging (Percentage of 2002 compared to 1992)

Denomination Figures of the 1992 census Figures of the 2002 census Increase / decrease in 2002 1. Orthodox 86.8% 86.79% - 5.02% 2. Roman Catholics 5.1% 4.73% - 11.66% 3. Greek Catholics (...)

Denomination Figures of the 1992 census Figures of the 2002 census Increase / decrease in 2002
1. Orthodox 86.8% 86.79% - 5.02%
2. Roman Catholics 5.1% 4.73% - 11.66%
3. Greek Catholics 1% 0.88% - 14.22%
4. Reformed 3.5% 3.23% - 12.63%
5. Pentecostals 1% 1.50% + 46.93%
6. Baptists 0.5% 0.6% + 15.69%
7. Seventh Day Adventists 0.3% 0.43% + 20.79%
8. Unitarians 0.3% 0.31% - 12.79%
9. Muslims 0.2% 0.31% + 20.25%
10. Gospel Christians 0.2% 0.21% - 10.98%
11. Christians of ancient rite 0.1% 0.18% + 35.55%
12. Lutherans 0.1% 0.3% + 27.76%
13. Evangelics of Augustan confession 0.02% 0.04% - 77.71%
14. Jews 0.04% 0.03% - 37.36%
15. Others 0.39% 0.50% + 21.24%
16. Without religion 0.1% 0.06% - 47.25%
17. Atheists 0.1% 0.04% - 17.49%
18. N/A 0.07% 0.05% - 27. 40%

Source : I.N.S. 1992 and 2002 census.

D 2 October 2012    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe

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