In Slovenia, religion is not the most crucial aspect of the culture. There are not so many religions, and many Slovenes consider themselves as non-religious. However, faith in the country still had a complex and deep history.
In 2017, almost 60% of Slovenes declared themselves as Roman Catholic, 2,4% are Muslim, 2,3% are Orthodox Christians, and about 10% are atheists. In Slovenia, you will not necessarily find a lot of religious diversity. However, there are still small percentages of people from Judaism and Hinduism.
If you are interested in Slovenia and its religions, you have to know that every main religion has a deep history. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about Religion in Slovenia.
Demographics of Religions in Slovenia
Most Slovenes belong to the Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, one of the world’s main religions.
The Catholic Church is the leading Christian denomination in Slovenia, followed by Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism.
Nowadays, three-fifths of the population is religious. It represented fewer people compared to the 1990s when four-fifths of Slovenes had strong religious beliefs. In the 21st century, 18% of Slovenes are atheist or agnostic.
Nevertheless, we can observe an increase in the number of religious communities accepted or tolerated in Slovenia. There are about 40 different religious groups in the country, but they represent only 1% of the population.
For instance, it is only in the 1970s that Muslim and Orthodox Christians arrived in Slovenia, impacting the country’s religious overview strongly. Most Orthodox Churches are located directly in Ljubljana, the capital. On the contrary, the first Mosque was built after 50 years of persuasion, even though Muslims are more numerous.
Other minor religions include Judaism and Hinduism.
In Slovenia, everyone is free to believe in the religion they choose. According to the Constitution, no one is forced to practice a religion.
History of Religion in Slovenia
Slovenia developed alongside religion. Faith played an influential role in its traditions, including the centuries of a state church. This era was interrupted by the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Socialism and Communism after World War II in Slovenia resulted in the separation of the State and the Church, which is the beginning of secularism.
The Slovene Catholic Church is under the leadership of the Pope in Rome. Slovenia counts about 1,1 million Catholics, divided between the six dioceses and two archdioceses.
This religion came to Slovenia around the 8th century when the Slavic tribes living in the territory embraced it as their new religion. It stayed a compelling religion in the country until 1945.
Industrialization, capitalism, and consumerism caused a decrease in religious beliefs in Slovenia, especially concerning Catholicism because of the departure of the more conservative Catholics.
After Roman Catholicism, another present branch of Christianity is Protestantism. Protestantism and the Slovenian language developed at the same time during the Reformation, which created a secure link between them.
The Reformation is a crucial period in the history of Slovenia. It developed in the 16th century, permitting the increase of Protestantism and especially Lutheranism. Minorities of the Protestant denomination present in Slovenia include Calvinism.
The Habsburgs from the Counter-Reformation, period following the Reformation, attempted to oust Protestantism in Slovenia with murder, extradition, and the interdiction of Slovenian. This movement of Counter-Reformation was mostly flourishing in the Slovenian-speaking territories.
Although Protestantism was actively attacked, the religion survived until today, especially in the Prekmurje region.
Catholics in Slovenia also belong to the Eastern Orthodoxy Christian branch. Its worshippers are mostly of Serbian descents and heritage. They depend on the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Zagreb and Ljubljana.
The Islamic religion is relatively present in Slovenia, although it might not be as recognized as others. Muslims in Slovenia are generally of Bosniak and Slavic descent. Some also are ethnically from Central, South, and Southeast Asia but are mainly migrant workers.
The first Mosque was built only a few years ago. Its construction started in 2013 and was completed in 2016. However, another mosque used to be in Log pod Mangartom, but it was destroyed right after World War I.
The aim of building a new mosque was to enrich the Slovenian culture by recognizing Islam and getting rid of intolerance in Slovenia, according to Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek.
In Slovenia, there is a small Jewish group of about 400 to 600 members. Most Jewish people live in Ljubljana.
The same way Ljubljana did not have any place of worship for Muslims until the last years, it did not have any Jewish sacred place until 2003. It was the only European capital in this case.
Unlike Islam, Judaism has a long history in Slovenia. It is present in the country since before the 6th century when the Slavic ancestors of Slovenes invaded present-day Slovenia.
Jewish people were expelled from Slovenia in the 15th and 16th century, and could not go back to the country until 1709.
Although the Jewish culture was almost inexistent in the 20th century, it revived in the 21st. In 2008, the Association Isserlein was created to plan events for the Jewish community and promote the legacy of its culture in Slovenia.
Even if the Slovene Jewish community is very small, there still are many antisemitic incidents.
Hinduism is a minor religion in Slovenia, such as Islam and Judaism. There are 220 Hindus living in Slovenia. The Hindu Religious Community in Slovenia counts 70 of them, and the other 150 belong to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
ISKCON was registered in 1983, and its only religious center in Slovenia is located in Ljubljana. On the other hand, The Hindu Religious Community was registered in 2003.
What about Freedom of Religion in Slovenia?
If you worry about practicing or not practicing religion in Slovenia, do not worry. In Slovenia, religion is not very prominent. The only dominant religion is Catholicism. However, even though this religion was a state religion for a long time, Slovenia guarantees freedom of religion.
Church and State were separated to allow every Slovenian to practice – or not practice – the religion of their choice. The government does not entirely ignore beliefs. Indeed, religious groups can register with the State and possibly receive monetary compensation.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution of Slovenia. All religions have equal rights, and the State forbids religious hatred and incitement of religious discrimination.
In reality, some religious minorities are still a victim of prejudice. For example, Muslims experience discrimination coming from the Slovene society, even though they are, to an extent, tolerated and respected in the country. This difference in treatment can be seen with the Mosque, which took 50 years of demands to be built.
To go all the way into secularism, Slovenia decided to prohibit circumcision for non-medical reasons and the practices necessary for kosher or halal meat. These decisions were severely received by followers of Islam and Judaism. They are now forced to import their meat and to get circumcised outside the country.
Concerning education, Slovenia enforces schools to include world religions into their programs. Voluntarily, students can also follow religion classes taught by churches and official religious groups. However, teaching religious rituals during school hours and in the context of academic studies is forbidden by the government.
Religious Monuments You Must See in Slovenia
Considering Slovenia is not a very religious country, the number of sacred buildings is quite impressive. You will find more than 3,000 religious monuments full of culture, history, and secrets when visiting the country.
All towns in Slovenia have at least one Church, convent, or monastery of Roman Catholic denomination. If you are looking for a faith adventure, you will have plenty of activities.
For example, you can ring the bells at the Church in Bled Lake. Legend says your wish will be granted if you ring them three times. You can also join a pilgrimage to the Mary Help of Christians Church.
Slovenian Roman Catholic churches were built in the late antiquity. You can observe its remains in Ljubljana, Ajdovski gradec, and Tonovcov grad. Christianity then developed in the 8th century, which explains the vast number of Catholic sacred places in Slovenia.
Among the most beautiful sacred buildings, you will find the Basilica of the Virgin Protectress, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, and the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje. Take a look at these monuments, and you will most certainly understand the faith in Slovenia.
Welcome to Slovenia
Slovenia is a place of diversity where religion is not necessarily a prominent aspect of society. The cultural melting-pot of Slovenia does not involve religion, especially considering people are mainly atheists or Catholics. In Slovenia, you will find variety in culture through other topics such as art or languages. Go to Slovenia, knowing what religions exist and the links they have with the State. Decide today to travel across this beautiful green country no matter what your faith is to discover all the sacred places and traditions the country has to offer.