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“Although We are Catholic, We are Dutch”—The Transition of the Dutch Catholic Church from Sect to Church as an Explanation for its Growth and Decline

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The Dutch Catholic Church has experienced an immense growth and an equal measure of decline in the last two centuries. This article explains this development by using the sect-to-church theory, as has been developed by the rational choice theory of religion. This theory explains the growth and decline of a church by the degree of tension it has with society. Historical evidence is used to test this theory with regard to the Dutch Catholic Church. As long as that church was in tension with society it kept growing, but as soon as the tension decreased, which was already taking place prior to 1960, it declined.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-03-01

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