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     Estonian Council of Churches


SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION

The objective of the ECC in the field of sociology of religion is to study people´s religious attitudes using sociological methods.

The first sociological survey of religion took place in 1995, organised by the Estonian Council of Churches, the Estonian Bible Society and the Estonian Evangelical Alliance. The population was represented in this letter survey by a sample of 1,551 persons (914 Estonians and 637 people of other ethnic origins). An additional survey of 1,006 parishioners and 353 ministers of the member churches of the ECC was conducted as well. The collected data provided an overview of the opinions, attitudes and expectations of the people in several religious matters, enabling to modify routine church practices accordingly. The results of the survey were presented to the public through various media outlets as well as in a statistical collection of questionnaire responses  (“Elust, usust ja usuelust”, Tallinn, 1996).

Estonian society has undergone several changes and the population´s attitudes towards religion have changed as well to a certain extent. The second sociological survey of religion was ordered by the ECC and was conducted in February 2000. Hans Hansen, PhD, was the initiator, soul and motor behind both surveys.

In 2003, the ECC working group on sociology of religion conducted a survey of morals and values of Estonian people, coordinated by Kalmer Marimaa. However, the survey was not limited to an analysis of values and morals. The respondents were also asked questions about their recreational activities and participation in various citizens’ associations, culture consumption, sensitivity to important social issues, and opinions about teaching religion in schools. Furthermore, the survey examined attitudes towards family and partnership, the sanctity of human life, aspects of various life situations and daily choices. The respondents’ trust in various institutions, such as the government, the Riigikogu, the education system and the judicial system, was measured as well. These are only some of the issues covered by this survey.

The third survey on “Life, Religion and Religious Life” was conducted in 2005-2006. The latter two surveys were organised by Eva-Liisa Jaanus, assistant in sociology of religion at the ECC,

The ECC´s fourth sociological survey on religion under the heading “Life, Religion and Religious Life”, supervised by Eerik Jõks, was conducted in 2010 in cooperation with the market research company Saar Poll OÜ. The databases of previous surveys were rearranged to ensure comparability of the four surveys. The surveys were presented at a press conference in Tallinn and a research conference on 4 November 2010 in Tartu. In addition, a collection of articles on sociology of religion, “Astu alla rahva hulka” (Step Down among the People), was published in 2012. 

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