Europe: Not as Secular as You Think


#1

With its dwindling rates of attendance at religious services and rising numbers of churches shuttered or sold, Western Europe seems to be the region of the world where the outlook for faith is bleakest.

We’ve all been told this, right? But not so fast. In this article by Tom Heneghan, a new, more nuanced survey yields surprising results. Read Europe: Not as Secular as You Think


(Randy) #2

Interesting analysis. Thanks!
I think that the point that many people consider themselves cultural Christians in Europe is true, especially based on some Europeans I have spoken to. For example, I recall a friend’s German girlfriend describing herself as a cultural Christian. It’s a little scary, because we probably are often mainly cultural here in the US, with the added peer pressure to attend church a bit more than they do.

However, if culture drives our Christianity, while there are good things about it–does it take the place of our executive and self-critical meditation on the Bible? @jpm’s article on conservative evangelicals taking a masculine emphasis and falling to the Metoo movement indicates that many of us don’t think of Jesus’ teachings about submission to each other, avoiding lust, and that the first would be last, and the last first.


#3

By cultural christian you mean not actually believing in God but following the traditions? Where I live the vast majority of “religious” people I know don’t go to church, but when I talk to them about belief, most of them say that they actually believe in God and (to some extent at least) in the bible, so I don’t think the people in this survey necessarily fall into that category just because they don’t go to church.


(Randy) #4

I guess I was more surprised at the extent of faith I met in Europe after all. I would agree with your impression.
Where do you live, if I may ask? Thanks.


#5

In the Book of Common Prayer, there is a prayer for those whose faith is known to God alone.


#6

I was surprised as well. The question about cultural christians is just for the fact that all people I know which call themselves “cultural christians” mean by that that they follow the traditions (sometimes even going to church) but don’t believe in God or any transcendent things. The term we use here for people which don’t go to church but are christians/believe in God is usually “non-practicing/non-observant” instead of cultural. So I was just curious to know what of the two you meant by “cultural christian”. I just asked that so I could understand your comment better and enter the discussion properly.


(Randy) #7

Hm. In the article, it noted that there was a wide variety of cultural Christian definitions. Most of them had to do with church attendance or non attendance, but they identified as Christian, officially. In Germany, the divide was a bit different, as if you weren’t a registered churchgoer you didn’t pay taxes, but that could leave a different demographic as “nonchurched” than in other parts of the country.

The article noted that the non churched, cultural Christians were typically a bit more liberal than the churched ones, but not nearly as liberal concerning things like abortion, from my understanding, as those who did not identify as Christians.

@beaglelady, I’m from “low church” but in our mission, SIM, there were high church Anglicans and some Catholics. I really enjoyed the Book of Common Prayer and bought a copy in university to read. There is a lot of deep, wonderful thinking in it. Thanks.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #8

But Americans are far more likely than West Europeans — by 53 percent versus 11 percent — to say that religion plays an important part in their lives.

Even the religiously unaffiliated in the U.S. see faith as more important than their counterparts across the Atlantic, to the point where American nones sometimes emerge as more religious than Christians in several European countries when asked about belief in God, prayer and attendance at religious services, it said.

I’m not sure what I thought, but these are still pretty striking differences with even ‘nones’ in America being more religious than Christians in several European countries. What kind of Christianity would that be exactly? At another point the author notes that it is more significant than nominal/cultural Christianity, but as the author points out it is fairly complicated in general!


#9

One other thing I’ve observed is that there are agnostics out there who would dearly love to have faith.