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Protestants and Catholics in the Netherlands

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

According to Greeley, Catholics are communitarian, and Protestants are individualistic, due to their different images of God. In this study, Greeley's argument is tested against data from two Dutch nationwide surveys conducted in 1985 (N=3003) and 1990 (N=2384). Differences between Catholics, three types of Protestants, and non-members are investigated. Catholics were, amongst others, expected to be more likely than Protestants to conform to and be involved in their neighbourhood, be tolerant towards ethnic groups, value equality and emphasize institutional religion. Protestants were expected to be more oriented towards freedom in relationships and personal autonomy. The findings indicate that Greeley's argument does not give reliable predictions about the Netherlands. Furthermore, they show that Protestants cannot be treated as a homogeneous group. The extent to which religious groups are open to influences from the secular world might be a more appropriate explanation of the differences in attitudes between the religious categories.


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