National church

A national church is a Christian church associated with a specific ethnic group or nation state. The idea was notably discussed during the 19th century, during the emergence of modern nationalism.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in a draft discussing the question of church and state around 1828 wrote that

"a National Church might exist, and has existed, without [Christianity], because before the institution of the Christian Church - as [...] the Levitical Church in the Hebrew Constitution, [and] the Druidical in the Celtic, would suffice to prove".[1]

John Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury, wrote about the National Church of Sweden in 1911, interpreting the Church of Sweden and the Church of England as national churches of the Swedish and the English peoples, respectively. Lake (1987) traces the development of Presbyterianism in 16th-century England from the status of a "godly minority" which saw itself surrounded by the corrupt or hostile mass of the population, into a "genuine national church".[2]

The concept of a national church remains alive in the Protestantism of England and Scandinavia in particular. While, in a context of England, the national church remains a common denominator for the Church of England, some of the Lutheran "folk churches" of Scandinavia, characterized as national churches in the ethnic sense as opposed to the idea of a state church, emerged in the second half of the 19th century following the lead of Grundtvig.[3] However, in countries in which the state church (also known as the established church) has the following of the majority of citizens, the state church may also be the national church, and may be declared as such by the government e.g. Church of Denmark,[4] Church of Greece,[5] Church of Iceland.[6]

Countries with national churches

Country National Church Denomination
 Albania Orthodox Church of Albania Eastern Orthodox
 Argentina Roman Catholic Church[7] Roman Catholic
 Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church[8] Oriental Orthodox
 Austria Roman Catholic Church[9] Roman Catholic
 Belgium Roman Catholic Church[10] Roman Catholic
 Brazil Roman Catholic Church[11][12] Roman Catholic
 Bulgaria Bulgarian Orthodox Church[13] Eastern Orthodox
 Costa Rica Roman Catholic Church[14] Roman Catholic
 Croatia Roman Catholic Church[15] Roman Catholic
 Cyprus Church of Cyprus Eastern Orthodox
 Denmark Church of Denmark[16] Lutheran
 England Church of England[17] Anglican
 Egypt Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria[18] Oriental Orthodox
 East Timor Roman Catholic Church[19] Roman Catholic
 Estonia Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church[20] Lutheran
 Ethiopia Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church[21] Oriental Orthodox
 Faroe Islands Church of the Faroe Islands[22] Lutheran
 Finland Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland[23]
Finnish Orthodox Church[24]
Eastern Orthodox
 France Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic
 Georgia Georgian Orthodox Church[25] Eastern Orthodox
 Germany Evangelical Church in Germany[26]
Catholic Church[26]
Protestant[lower-alpha 1]
Roman Catholic
 Greece Church of Greece[27] Eastern Orthodox
 Hungary Roman Catholic Church[28] Roman Catholic
 Iceland Church of Iceland[29] Lutheran
 India Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Eastern Catholic
 Iraq Chaldean Catholic Church [30] Eastern Catholic
 Republic of Ireland Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic
 Italy Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic
 Liechtenstein Roman Catholic Church[31] Roman Catholic
 Malta Roman Catholic Church [32] Roman Catholic
 Mexico Roman Catholic Church[33][34][35] Roman Catholic
 Northern Ireland Church of Ireland Anglican
 Lebanon Maronite Church[36] Eastern Catholic
 Macedonia Macedonian Orthodox Church[37] Eastern Orthodox
 Monaco Roman Catholic Church[38] Roman Catholic
 Norway Church of Norway[39] Lutheran
 Peru Roman Catholic Church[40] Roman Catholic
 Poland Roman Catholic Church[41][42] Roman Catholic
 Portugal Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic
 Philippines Roman Catholic Church[43] Roman Catholic
 Romania Romanian Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox
 Russia Russian Orthodox Church[44] Eastern Orthodox
 Scotland Church of Scotland[45] Reformed
 Serbia Serbian Orthodox Church[46] Eastern Orthodox
 Spain Roman Catholic Church [47] Roman Catholic
 Sweden Church of Sweden[48] Lutheran
 Tuvalu Church of Tuvalu[49] Reformed
 Ukraine Ukrainian Orthodox Church[50]
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Catholic


Karl Barth denounced as heretical the tendency of "nationalizing" the Christian God, especially in the context of national churches sanctioning warfare against other Christian nations during World War I.[51]

See also


  1. United Protestant (Lutheran & Reformed), Lutheran, and Reformed


  1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. On the Constitution of the Church and State. Classic Books Company; 2001. ISBN 978-0-7426-8368-6. p. 59.
  2. Peter Lake, Maria Dowling, Protestantism and the national church in sixteenth century England, Taylor & Francis, 1987, ISBN, 9780709916819, ch. 8 (193ff.)
  3. Dag Thorkildsen, "Scandinavia: Lutheranism and national identity" in World Christianities, c. 1815-1914, vol. 8 of The Cambridge history of Christianity, eds. Sheridan Gilley, Brian Stanley, Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-521-81456-0, pp. 342–358.
  4. Shadid, W. A. R. (1 January 1995). Religious Freedom and the Position of Islam in Western Europe. Peeters Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 9789039000656. Denmark has declared the Evangelical Lutheran church to be that national church (par. 4 of the Constitution), which corresponds the fact that 91.5% of the population are registered members of this church. This declaration implies that the Danish State does not take a neutral stand in religious matters. Nevertheless, freedom of religion has been incorporated in the Constitution. Nielsen (1992, 77) gives a short description of the position of the minority religious communities in comparison to that of the State Church: The Lutheran established church is a department of the state. Church affairs are government by a central government ministry, and clergy are government employees. The registration of births, deaths and marriages falls under this ministry of church affairs, and normally speaking the local Lutheran pastor is also the official registrar. The other small religious communities, viz. Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Jews, have the constitutional status of 'recognised communities of faith'. ... Contrary to the minority religious communities, the Lutheran Church is fully financed by the Danish State.
  5. Enyedi, Zsolt; Madeley, John T.S. (2 August 2004). Church and State in Contemporary Europe. Routledge. p. 228. ISBN 9781135761417. Both as a state church and as a national church, the Orthodox Church of Greece has a lot in common with Protestant state churches, and even with Catholicism in some countries.
  6. Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing. 1 January 2005. p. 283. ISBN 9780816069835. When Iceland obtained home rule in 1874, the new constitution, while granting religious freedom, maintained the Evangelical Lutheran Church as "a national church . . . supported by the State." This was reaffirmed in the 1944 constitution of the new independent Republic of Iceland. Democratic reforms were adopted early in the 20th century that allowed for some independent decision making in parish councils, and let congregations choose their own pastors. Under a 1998 law, the church became largely autonomous, though it is still designated established church, supported by government taxes. At the end of the 19th century, Lutherans who wanted freedom from the state church founded the Evangelical Free Church of Iceland, which now has in excess of 7,000 members. The majority of Icelanders are members of the state church. Almost all children are baptized as Lutheran and more than 90 percent are subsequently confirmed. The Church conducts 75 percent of all marriages and 99 percent of all funerals.
  7. SJ, Gustavo Morello (1 July 2015). The Catholic Church and Argentina's Dirty War. Oxford University Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780190273002. The "re-establishing" of Catholicism as a national Church was the reward for the bishops's silence.
  8. Ágoston, Gábor; Masters, Bruce Alan (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 9781438110257. The Armenian Apostolic Church, sometimes referred to as the Gregorian Armenian Church by Western scholars, serves as the national church of the Armenian people.
  9. David Bowman, William (1 December 1999). Priest and Parish in Vienna: 1780 to 1880. Boston, MA : Humanities Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780391040946. The Catholic Church was one of the principal forces that could help keep the lands of Habsburg monarchy together throughout its long history. Catholicism was not only the traditional religion of much of Austrian society,
  10. Nationalism in Belgium: Shifting Identities, 1780-1995
  11. The Catholic Church in Brazil
  12. "Yet the national church appeared to agree upon the approach to pre-influence and it behaved accordingly. The Brazilian Church was socially more advanced than any other Latin America Church" The Political Transformation Of the Brazilian Catholic Church Thomas Bruneau - Umi Out-of-print Books on Demand - 1989
  13. Hall, Richard C. (1 January 2012). The Modern Balkans: A History. Reaktion Books. p. 51. ISBN 9781780230061. While this did not restore the Ohrid patriarchate, it did acknowledge the separation between the Orthodox church in Constantinople and the Bulgarian Orthodox church, which was now free to develop as the Bulgarian national church.
  14. Super User. "Costa Rica Constitution in English – Constitutional Law – Costa Rica Legal Topics". Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  15. Cvitanic, Marilyn (2011). Culture and Customs of Croatia. 9780313351174. ISBN 9780313351174.
  16. Venbrux, Eric; Quartier, Thomas; Venhorst, Claudia; Brenda Mathijssen (September 2013). Changing European Death Ways. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 178. ISBN 9783643900678. Simultaneously the church tax, ministers being public servants, and the status of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark as the national church indicate that the state lends its support to the church.
  17. Britannicus (1834). The Church of England. p. 17. Having, in my last, arrive at the great points which I wished to establish--the apostolicity, independence, and authority of the Church of England; and that she is necessarily the National Church, because Christianity is the National Religion.
  18. Makari, Peter E. (2007). Conflict & Cooperation: Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt. Syracuse University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780815631446. The Coptic Orthodox Church is the historic, and national, church of Egypt and is deeply tied to a monastic tradition of spiritual growth and preparation for ministry of monks and nuns, a tradition that continues to thrive.
  19. Budiardjo, Carmel; Liong Liem, Soei (1984). The war against East Timor. Zed Books. ISBN 9780862322281. The disintegration of the Portuguese Catholic Church in East Timor accelerated the transformation of the Church into a national church.
  20. Elvy, Peter (1991). Opportunities and Limitations in Religious Broadcasting. Edinburgh: CTPI. p. 23. ISBN 9781870126151. Denominationally Estonia is Lutheran. During the time of national independence (1918-1940), 80% of the population belonged to the Lutheran National Church, about 17% were Orthodox Christians and the rest belonged to Free Churches.
  21. Lorance, Cody (2008). Ethnographic Chicago. p. 140. ISBN 9780615218625. Her findings show that the development of the national church of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which began in the fourth century and made Christianity the state religion of Ethiopia, was also a major contributor to national development in the fields of independence, social progress, national unity and empowerment, literary development, arts, architecture, music, publication, and declaration of a national language and leadership, both spiritually and military.
  22. Proctor, James (13 May 2013). Faroe Islands. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 19. ISBN 9781841624563. Religion is important to the Faroese and 84% of the population belongs to the established national church in the islands, the Evangelical—Lutheran Foroya Kirkja, which has 61 churches in the Faroes and three out of every four marriages are held in one.
  23. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. Britanncia Educational Publishing. 1 June 2013. p. 77. ISBN 9781615309955. One of Finland's national churches is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Finnish: Suomen Evankelis—luterilainen—kirkko), or simply the Church of Finland.
  24. Kaplan, Robert B.; Baldauf, Richard B. (2005). Language Planning and Policy in Europe. Multilingual Matters. p. 147. ISBN 9781853598111. Currently, a clear majority of the population belongs to the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, and 1% of the population are members of the other national church, the Finnish Orthodox Church (see Table 7).
  25. Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (21 September 2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. ABC-CLIO. p. 1195. ISBN 9781598842043. The Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) is the Eastern Orthodox Christian body that serves as the national church of the Caucasian country of Georgia. The great majority of Georgians are members of the church.
  26. Gelder, Craig Van (2008). The Missional Church and Denominations. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 9780802863584. Germany's two churches (the National Church for the Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church) were “proper”with respect to their polities.
  27. Miller, James Edward (2009). The United States and the Making of Modern Greece: History and Power, 1950-1974. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780807832479. The creation of a national church of Greece, which the patriarch reluctantly recognized in 1850, set a pattern for other emerging Balkan states to form national churches independent of Constantinople.
  28. Alex Kish, George (2011). The Origins of the Baptist Movement Among the Hungarians: A History of the Baptists in the Kingdom of Hungary From 1846 to 1893. BRILL. p. 18. ISBN 9789004211360. the empire the Crown still championed Roman Catholicism as "the Hungarian national religion"
  29. Wilcox, Jonathan; Latif, Zawiah Abdul (1 September 2006). Iceland. Marshall Cavendish. p. 85. ISBN 9780761420743. The National Church of Iceland, formally called the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, is the state religion, and the president of Iceland is its supreme authority.
  30. B. Shelledy, Robert (2003). Legions Not Always Visible on Parade: The Vatican's Influence in World Politics. University of Wisconsin--Madison. The Chaldean Church is located primarily in Iraq and functions in many ways like a national Orthodox Church.
  31. "The Roman Catholic Church is the State Church and as such enjoys the full protection of the State; other confessions shall be entitled to practise their creeds and to hold religious services to the extent consistent with morality and public order." Constitution Religion. at the Wayback Machine (archived 26 March 2009) (archived from the original on 2009-03-26).
  32. "Constitution of Malta (Article 2)".
  33. Ricardo Hernández-Forcada, "The Effect of International Treaties on Religious Freedom in Mexico". 2002 BYU L. Rev. 301(202).<l. 35, Issue 4.
  34. Roberto Blancarte, "Recent Changes in Church-State Relations in Mexico: An Historical Approach." Journal of Church & State, Autumn 1993, Vo-559 (1996).
  35. Mexico Is Home To World's Second Largest Catholic Population
  36. Ajami, Fouad (30 May 2012). The Syrian Rebellion. Hoover Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780817915063. The Maronite Church is a national church. Its creed is attachment to Lebanon and its independence. The founding ethos of the Maronites is their migration from the Syrian plains to the freedom and “purity” of their home in Mount Lebanon.
  37. Rae, Heather (15 August 2002). State Identities and the Homogenisation of Peoples. Cambridge University Press. p. 278. ISBN 9780521797085. The creation of a national Church was also central to building national identity, with the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) established in 1967, much to the outrage of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
  38. Joshua Project (2018). "Ethnic People Groups of Monaco". Joshua Project. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  39. Cristofori, Rinaldo; Ferrari, Silvio (28 February 2013). Law and Religion in the 21st Century: Relations between States and Religious Communities. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 9781409497332. The State shall support all religious communities including the Church of Norway on an equal footing, but the Church of Norway shall 'remain the people's Church and is as such supported by the State', thereby upholding its function as a national Church.
  40. "Constitution of the Republic of Peru" (PDF). Within an independent and autonomous system, the State recognizes the Catholic Church as an important element in the historical, cultural, and moral formation of Peru and lends it its cooperation. The State respects other denominations and may establish forms of collaboration with them.
  41. Poland's church struggles to contain its latest crisis
  42. "The Constitution of the Republic of Poland". 1997-04-02. The relations between the Republic of Poland and the Roman Catholic Church shall be determined by international treaty concluded with the Holy See, and by statute. The relations between the Republic of Poland and other churches and religious organizations shall be determined by statutes adopted pursuant to agreements concluded between their appropriate representatives and the Council of Ministers.
  43. Cornelio, Jayeel Serrano (12 July 2016). Being Catholic in the Contemporary Philippines: Young People Reinterpreting Religion. Routledge. ISBN 978-1138803343.
  44. Prizel, Ilya (13 August 1998). National Identity and Foreign Policy: Nationalism and Leadership in Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Cambridge University Press. p. 155. ISBN 9780521576970. Although nominally a national church, the Russian Orthodox Church developed from a defensive, nativist institution to the ideological foundation of an imperial idea.
  45. Morton, Andrew R. (1994). God's Will in a Time of Crisis: A Colloquium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Baillie Commission. Edinburgh: CTPI. p. 14. ISBN 9781870126274. In October 1929, the Established Church and the United Free Church were united to form the national Church of Scotland.
  46. Tomasevich, Jozo (1 January 1975). The Chetniks. Stanford University Press. p. 176. ISBN 9780804708579. He also had the support of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which as a national church long identified with the national destiny and aspirations of the Serbian people was naturally inclined to identify itself with the movement that had the backing of the king and the Servian-dominated government-in-exile.
  47. Spanish Catholicism: an Historical Overview Stanley Payne - University Of Wisconsin Press - 1984 ISBN 0299098044
  48. Gilley, Sheridan; Stanley, Brian (2006). The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 8, World Christianities C.1815-c.1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 354. ISBN 9780521814560. The Church of Sweden could be characterised as 'national church' or 'folk church', but not as 'state church', because the independence of the church was expressed by the establishment of a Church Assembly in 1863.
  49. West, Barbara A. (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 845. ISBN 9781438119137. A second important cultural feature of the Tuvaluan nation is the centrality of the national church, the Ekalesia o Tuvalu, or Church of Tuvalu, in which up to 97 percent of the population claims membership.
  50. Velychenko, Stephen (1 January 1992). National History as Cultural Process: A Survey of the Interpretations of Ukraine's Past in Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian Historical Writing from the Earliest Times to 1914. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780920862759. For this reason the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was the true democratic national church of the Ukrainian nation.
  51. Barth, Ethnics, ed. Braun, transl. Bromiley, New York, 1981, p. 305.
  • William Reed Huntington, A national church, Bedell lectures, Scribner's, 1897.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.