The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article on Atheism in Europe last week:
Passive indifference to faith has left Europe’s churches mostly empty. But debate over religion is more intense and strident than it has been in many decades. Religion is re-emerging as a big issue in part because of anxiety over Europe’s growing and restive Muslim populations and a fear that faith is reasserting itself in politics and public policy. That is all adding up to a growing momentum for a combative brand of atheism, one that confronts rather than merely ignores religion.
Faith reasserting itself into politics and public policy?! It’s like Europe is doing everything in its power to not become America.
There was also reference to a London debate:
In London last month, leading British atheists squared off with defenders of faith in a public debate on the motion, “We’d be better off without religion.” Tickets cost nearly $40 but so many people wanted to attend that the event was moved to a bigger venue with over 2,000 seats. It still sold out. The audience declared the atheists the victors, by a margin of 1,205 to 778, with a few score abstentions.
Arguing that we would be better of without religion were Richard Dawkins, A.C. Grayling, and Christopher Hitchens. Speaking against the motion were Rabbi Julia Neuberger, Professor Roger Scruton, and Nigel Spivey. (You can download that entire debate by going here.)
Christianity, once the bedrock of Europe’s identity, has been losing worshipers on the Continent for at least half a century, though some opinion polls suggest the downward trend has bottomed out. Around three-quarters of Europeans still describe themselves as Christians. But only a small minority go to church. In Western Europe, according to polls, fewer than 20% do.
This is another idea I’ve never understood: Some Christians want to see the integration of Church and State. But in Europe, where that has happened, it has led to an increased apathy to religion altogether. It has also led to a rise in atheists. I was in Iceland last summer, where the largest church in Reykjavik was scarcely attended, I was told, except maybe during Christmas. Wouldn’t religious people be better off in places where religion is a private matter?
You should still be able to read the full WSJ article without being a subscriber. Read it before it goes away!
[tags]atheist, atheism, The Wall Street Journal, Europe, Religion, Muslim, Islam, America, London, Richard Dawkins, A.C. Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Julia Neuberger, Roger Scruton, Nigel Spivey, Christianity, Iceland, Reykjavik[/tags]