It is important that we consider these factors alongside one another in order to get a rounded picture of what is happening. The future is very uncertain. Indeed the current state of religion in Europe is paradoxical. On the one hand, religion has re-entered the public square and demands a response. On the other, a largely unchurched population has difficulty dealing with these issues in the sense that increasingly secular Europeans are rapidly losing the concepts, knowledge, and vocabulary that are necessary to talk about religion. Speaking for my own country at least, this is one reason for the lamentable standard of public debate in this field. 

How can we manage this situation more constructively?  That is the challenge facing European societies today.

This article draws on Davie's previously published work, particularly "Is Europe an exceptional case?" in The Hedgehog Review, 8, 2006: 23-34 (a special issue entitled ‘After Secularization'); and "Religion in Europe in the 21st century:  The factors to take into account," in Archives européennes de sociologie/ European Journal of Sociology/ Europaeisches Archiv für Soziologie, XLVII/2, 2006: 271-96.


Grace Davie is professor emerita in the Sociology of Religion in the University of Exeter.  She is a past-president of the American Association for the Sociology of Religion (2003) and of the Research Committee 22 (Sociology of Religion) of the International Sociological Association (2002-06). In 2000-01 she was the Kerstin-Hesselgren Professor in the University of Uppsala, where she returned for the 2006-07 academic session and again in 2010. In January 2008, she received an honorary degree from Uppsala. In addition to numerous chapters and articles, she is the author of Religion in Britain since 1945 (Blackwell 1994), Religion in Modern Europe (OUP 2000), Europe: The Exceptional Case, Parameters of Faith in the Modern World (DLT 2002), and The Sociology of Religion (Sage 2007). She is the co-author of Religious America, Secular Europe?: A Theme and Variations and co-editor of Predicting Religion (Ashgate 2003) and Welfare and Religion in 21st Century Europe (2010).