Estimates of the number of Catholics in France range from 41 percent to 88 percent, with the higher figure comprising lapsed Catholics and "Catholic atheists." In France, the Catholic Church is divided into 98 dioceses, which were serviced by 7,000 sub-75 priests in 2012. The country's 200,000 nuns make up one-quarter of the world's female religious.
Of these 188 million people, only 70 million are considered active members of the Catholic Church, which means that only 40 percent of the population is considered devout. However, because of the high percentage of former and lapsed Catholics, this figure is likely to be much lower than 40 percent.
When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, France was a Catholic nation dominated by Catholics - both clergy and laity. Although the revolution attempted to establish a state church, it failed due to opposition from the Catholic Church. After the revolution, France remained a predominantly Catholic country. However, an exodus from Catholicism began in the late 18th century due to poverty caused by agricultural reforms and the construction of large factories without enough workers. These factors also contributed to the rise of Protestantism in France.
During the 19th century, France became more secular due to the influence of Napoleon I who married a Catholic woman and had several children with her, all of whom were baptized as Catholics but attended Catholic services only on important occasions. He also banned religious songs from being sung at court.
In France, Catholicism is the main religion. According to a poll conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP), 64 percent of the population (about 41.6 million people) identified as Roman Catholic. Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism are among the various religions practiced in France. In fact, 6 percent of the population (about 3.5 million people) say they are Muslim, while 1 percent (about 250,000 people) claim Jewish ancestry.
France has one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, with approximately 500,000 Jews living there today. They account for about 1 percent of the population.
Almost 20 percent of France's population claims no religious affiliation. The number of atheists in France has increased nearly every year since 2004, when 19.4 percent of the population did not believe in any God. Today, that percentage has almost doubled to 37.9.
Despite this increase, most scientists consider atheism to be a rare trait among humans. Atheists are believed to make up between 1 and 4 percent of the world's population.
Recently, some politicians have suggested that France should remove God from its national anthem. Many people think it's an idea that should be ignored, because they believe it violates people's rights to freedom of religion.
In France, Christianity is the most prevalent religion. The next year, an Ipsos study focused on Protestants and reported that 57.5 percent of France's overall population identified themselves to be Catholic and 3.1 percent declared themselves to be Protestant, based on 31,155 interviews. In addition, 16.4 percent said they were atheist or did not believe in any god.
When it comes to Catholicism in France, there are two main groups: those who identify themselves as being part of the Catholic Church but not necessarily French Catholics (since many foreign countries have significant populations of Christians of other religions or no religion at all) and those who follow the Roman Catholic Church but also include other Christian denominations such as Eastern Orthodox churches or Protestant churches.
Overall, France is one of the most religious countries in Europe with 95% of the population identifying themselves as having a faith. However, like many other European countries, the number of people identifying themselves as Catholic has decreased over time with more people choosing not to associate themselves with the religion.