Young men support baptism and the Church

On Father's Day 2023, young fathers are more likely to support infant baptism and membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church than young mothers.

In the picture you can see two men andd a small baby.

Photo: Antti Rintala.

In Finland, there is a noteworthy trend among young men showing greater support for the Church and religious practices like infant baptism than young women.

– Recent studies indicate that young fathers are more inclined toward these traditions than young mothers, a shift from the past when women often upheld family and church traditions, Hanna Salomäki, director of the Church Institute for Research and Advanced Training, says.

Since the 2010s, belief in God has increased among men under 20. Additionally, a recent empathy and familiarity survey in urban Lutheran parishes (2023) shows that young men aged 18 to 24 align with the Church's values more than their female counterparts and are more open to joining the Church if they are not currently members [1]. The preliminary results of the confirmation school study Rippikoulu 2023 (not yet published) likewise confirm a stronger religious inclination in boys over girls.

The spiritual landscape in Finland has evolved, with millennials (born 1980–1989) labelling themselves as less religious than older ones. However, for Generation Z men (born 1990–1999), being religious and affiliated with the Church is not seen negatively, and they commonly support practices such as infant baptism.

Statistics from urban parishes in Espoo and Vantaa show a decline in baptisms, influenced by multiculturalism and the lower inclination of people with immigrant backgrounds to join the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Nonetheless, a majority of Church members still baptise their children.

Two-thirds of men under 30 consider religious ceremonies for newborns significant, while only half of the women feel the same. Young women often cite the child's future autonomy as a reason for opting out of baptism. [2]

– Four of five members still have their newborns baptised, pastor Heikki Lehti, the project coordinator who has studied the baptisms of the Lutheran Church in Espoo, notes. While the trend for infant baptism may be shifting, confirmation schools continue to engage youth, indicating a sustained role for religious ceremonies in Finnish culture. The previous year, 63.8% of all newborns were baptised into the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The increasing spirituality among young men may also relate to the evolving culture of fatherhood and a broader societal shift towards more open communication. According to Kati Tervo-Niemelä, Jenni Spännär and Laura Kallatsa's study "Ei oo puhuttu" (2022), the previously prevalent silence in Finnish families is being challenged by young men who are more willing to discuss their feelings and beliefs openly. [3]

Regarding service satisfaction, feedback on baptism ceremonies in Espoo and Vantaa has been overwhelmingly positive, reflecting a thoughtful approach by pastors to meet family preferences. The upcoming joint baptism campaign by the Espoo and Vantaa parish unions aims to highlight the communal and unifying aspects of baptism in the Christian faith, irrespective of place and time.


[1] Kaupunkiseurakuntien empatia- ja tunnettuuskysely 2023 (evl.fi) The preliminary results of the confirmation school study Rippikoulu 2023 (not yet published) likewise confirm a stronger religious inclination in boys over girls.

[2] Kasteen polulla -tutkimus 2021 (evl.fi)

[3] ”Ei oo puhuttu.” | Uskonto, katsomus ja kasvatus (journal.fi)

7.11.2023 11.46