From Lutheran Dominance to Diversity

Religion in Finnish Newspapers 1946–2018


  • Teemu Taira University of Helsinki



religion, newspaper, media, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland, the Lutheran Church, diversity, secularism, quantitative content analysis


This article examines religion in Finnish newspapers, arguing that
religion-related discourses have changed from one of Lutheran dominance to one of diversity. The main data consists of a longitudinal
sample (1946–2016) of the most popular Finnish newspaper, Helsingin
Sanomat, and especially of its editorials and readers’ letters. Additional
data covers a wider variety of newspapers from the 1990s to 2018. The
data is analysed using quantitative content analysis and a discursive
approach. It will be suggested that it is possible to discuss diversity
both as an emergent discourse and a theme in the Finnish media since
the mid-1990s, thereby overcoming earlier frameworks that took Lutheranism for granted or gave it a special role in the private sphere.
The analysis shows that these shifts do not provide clear support for
the idea that newspapers and journalism are anti-religious; rather, it
suggests that they may be understood as having a ‘liberalizing’ effect,
especially when religious values are not seen as compatible with those
of journalists and newspapers.

Author Biography

Teemu Taira, University of Helsinki

TEEMU TAIRA is Senior Lecturer in Study of Religion, University of Helsinki




How to Cite

Taira, T. (2019). From Lutheran Dominance to Diversity: Religion in Finnish Newspapers 1946–2018. Temenos - Nordic Journal for the Study of Religion, 55(2), 225–47.