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October 13, 2003

Hallelujah!

Here is a long article on the decline of religion in Europe. A few points....


  • They emphasize the greater decline of Protestantism without being explicit (note the excess of Catholic statistics, I suspect the Protestant ones would be very low)
  • They note the prevalence of non-whites in many of the more dynamic churches
  • Europeans have not turned into secular rationalists, but just become turned off to their historic organized religions

This article is framed in the current context of the tensions in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality. Conservatives regularly look to the African churches to buttress their traditional morality and social teaching. But should they? Note:

Pastor Ashimolowo, a Nigerian immigrant, started Kingsway 11 years ago, and it now claims about 10,000 members in East London, along with thousands more elsewhere. Many are from Africa, or their parents were.
....
Worshipers often speak in tongues and take part in faith healings, practices that have begun to crop up as well in more traditional settings, like a United Reformed congregation in East London.

While Western conservatives want to take the church back a few decades or maintain the status quo, I suspect the new blood in Christianity is a shift back centuries to an era of magical thinking. See my post Next Christianity for my cynical take of the "browning" of Christianity.

The general tone of the article reminds me somewhat of the last days of Greco-Roman paganism, where the people were ripe for a new religious dispensation and no longer believed in their old gods (or so the monks tell us!). It has been 1400 years since the rise of Islam, perhaps it's time for another world religion, this time coming out of Europe?

Posted by razib at 12:36 PM




Kudos to Europe for arriving at a more secular society, but I recommend that they adopt a more selective immigration policy if they'd like to keep it that way.

The United States, on the other had, is so religious that political leaders will actually base foreign policy decisions upon religion -- and will be praised for it! Lunatics like Falwell and Robertson had Regan's ear during the 80s, and advocated a cold war policy towards Russia that would ultimately lead to Armageddon. How comforting.

Those seeking to bring on the apocalypse haven't let up since, although the U.S.S.R. no longer plays a role in their plans. An eschatological doctrine known as pre-millenial dispensationalism is the main rationale behind evangelical participation in pro-Israel lobby groups. Rarely will they discuss their actual motives, as they realize that any sane person will consider them crazy -- which they are.

Check out this description of dispensationalism, if you're not aware of it. It is unreal:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north188.html

Another article:
http://www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=15221

Then of course, we have Bush who appears to be consulting God to inform his foreign policy decisions (although this is not confirmed).

Do you see why I sometimes wish that the west coast could just split off from the rest of the country? (Yes, I know it's not a very sound idea, and I do have a soft spot in my heart for certain metropolitan areas in the interior as well as certain liberal states like Minnesota. I wouldn't want to just leave them isolated in a country that would suddenly become much more conservative.)

Posted by: Chris W at October 13, 2003 05:50 PM


Does ostentatious public practice necessarily correlate with belief?

The notable difference between American Christians and Europeans seems to be paranoia - the Americans think their religion is under *attack*. Europeans don't.

I suspect that if there's ever a serious attempt to drive European christiantity out of public places, as is happening in the US, we'll see a big religious revival among Euros...

Posted by: ToOmUchWoRK at October 13, 2003 06:43 PM


I suspect that if there's ever a serious attempt to drive European christiantity out of public places

anti-clericalism has been strong in much of europe. france has strong secular credentials, anti-clericalists were strong spain from the anti-carlist era to the spanish republic, pio nio's tomb was thrown into the tiber by the roman mob in the 19th century (pio nio was a pope), bismarck engaged in the kulturkampf against catholics....

Posted by: razib at October 14, 2003 12:46 AM


Pastor Ashimolowo, a Nigerian immigrant, started Kingsway 11 years ago, and it now claims about 10,000 members in East London, along with thousands more elsewhere. Many are from Africa, or their parents were.
....
Worshipers often speak in tongues and take part in faith healings, practices that have begun to crop up as well in more traditional settings, like a United Reformed congregation in East London.
-----------------

I;m planning on reading "the next christendom" by jenkins, at some point.
What i've heard from its content is pretty scary.
Liberal christianity's days are basically numbered.
The future lies not even in fundamentalism (scripture worship) but in the even worse(from an intellectual point of view )pentecostalism (which is basically all about demons, witches and spirit posession)
African christianity is basically middle ages european christianity in its most superstitious, illogical, demon-haunted, witchcraft obsessed form.
Africa would be better off (at least temporarily) with forms of christianity that emphasise erudition, even if it consists of nothing but studying the bible over and over again. Even that is better than jumping up and down at church while being ridden by the holy spirit .
Even islam might be more helpful than this pentecostal plague .


Posted by: ogunsiron at October 14, 2003 01:07 AM


ogun, one thing jenkins makes clear is that african churches more more "orthodox" over time-they just enter more traditional european denominations from a certain end of the spectrum....

Posted by: razib at October 14, 2003 11:37 AM


"france has strong secular credentials"

The church strongly supported the *ancien regime*. That made it an enemy of every peasant who had benefited from the revolution. But as soon as Napoleon forced the pope to accept the new order the peasantry flooded back to the churches. French anticlericalism since then has had only a minority following

"anti-clericalists were strong spain from the anti-carlist era to the spanish republic"

Since the Reconquest the popes have had a particular fondness for Castilians, which naturally annoyed other Spaniards. It was easy to rouse the Basques and Catalans against the church

"pio nio's tomb was thrown into the tiber by the roman mob in the 19th century"

The Popes strongly supported Austrian rule of Italy and opposed Italian nationalism. Italian anticlericalism had the same logic as in Spain

"bismarck engaged in the kulturkampf against catholics"

A bad example: Bismarck lost his job because of the kulturkampf. His anti-catholic agitation brought Germany close to civil conflict, at a time (the 1880s) when renewed war with France/Austria looked possible. For the sake of German unity, he had to go.


Summary: to successfully attack christianity you must find and exploit situations where churches are hurting their own followers (paedo priests, anyone?)

Absent that, attacks will simply provoke a counterproductive increase in religious fervor

Posted by: toOmUcHWoRK at October 18, 2003 08:58 AM