June 1, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Social commentators and scholars have been opining on the collapse of Christianity across Western Europe for decades now, as the vacuum created by the ongoing extinction of faith has been accompanied by the collapse of the traditional family and a demographic winter so severe it has forced governments to import massive amounts of immigrants to supply their labor force and ostensibly to prop up their creaking, top-heavy social welfare systems. With the occasional spasm of resistance to the organized decay being languidly orchestrated by the Eurocrats in Brussels (like Brexit, the brief marriage of old guard leftists and actual conservatives, both disenfranchised by the homogenized center-left blob made up of the Labor and Tory parties), whatever is left of Christendom is slowly imploding on itself.
The Pew Research Center has released a wide-ranging study on Christianity in Western Europe, and their findings—while predictable—are still breathtaking when one considers the inherent religiosity of European society only a few generations ago. Practicing Christians—which Pew, for the purposes of their study, defines as those who attend church a minimum of once a month—are a vanishing species, making up only 28% of the population in Austria, 10% of Belgians, 10% of Danes, 9% of Finns, and 18% of the French. Only 22% of Germans are practicing Christians, and the Dutch, who were sustained by faith throughout the dark years of the Nazi Occupation, have abandoned Christianity almost entirely—only 15% still attend church somewhat regularly. Scandinavia, unsurprisingly, is equally godless: 9% of Swedes practice some form of Christianity, and just 14% of Norwegians.
Catholic Spain is gone, too—their numbers have fallen to 21%. Portugal is slightly higher at 35%, while Italy climbs to 40%. The United Kingdom, where Christianity is vanishing by the year, is down to 18%–and the numbers in Ireland’s abortion referendum last month are at least somewhat explained by the fact that only 34% attend church at least once a month. Switzerland, the home of John Calvin’s Geneva, is sitting at 27%. Combined, these once-Christian nations—now graveyards of empty cathedrals and crumbling churches—have a median of 18% practicing Christian. For anyone who knows even the slightest bit about European history, these numbers indicate a repudiation of everything their ancestors held dear—beliefs that those who went before them were in many cases willing to die for.
Interestingly, many Western Europeans still claim to be Christian as a token of respect to their cultural landscape or heritage. Across fifteen countries, for example, 71% claimed to be Christian, while only 22% of these attended church services monthly or more frequently. On the other hand, 91% had still been baptized Christian, and marginally less—81%–claimed that they had been raised Christian. These “non-practicing Christians” (a contradiction in terms), do not believe in the God of the Bible, but rather some vague spiritual force—subscribing to what Rod Dreher often refers to as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” On the other hand, those who do attend church at least once a month say that they believe in the God described in the Bible. One positive aspect of the large number of non-Christian Europeans who still describe themselves as Christians is that they express positive views about the role of churches and faith in society at large.
Further—and this is no surprise—Pew’s research found that an overwhelming majority of the so-called “non-practicing” as well as those described as “unaffiliated” are in favor of abortion as well as gay “marriage” (again, a trend that revealed itself in Ireland’s abortion referendum, as well as the Irish marriage referendum several years prior.) Their polls also indicated that although church-attending Christians are far more likely to be pro-life and supportive of traditional marriage, those numbers are slipping as well, indicating that the churches have much work to do if they want their congregants to actually hold Christian views on fundamental matters of life and family. Considering that Pew also found that practicing Christians stated, nearly universally, that they would be raising their children as Christians, it is essential that these views get passed down to the next generation.
Western Europe is, by the numbers, post-Christian. The level of Christian belief is probably more similar to the days when St. Patrick and the great missionaries where beginning their work than of William Wilberforce, although these men do provide a roadmap for what must take place again. Europe may be post-Christian, but it must also be pre-Christian. There is much work to be done.
These examples remind me of something Dr. Klaas Schilder once wrote:
The old saying is promptly proven right that a dying people ignores its great men. A glorious heritage claims responsibilities for the future: individuals and nations, which have stood in the first ranks, should maintain their place. As long as a people maintains its greatness, it will know its history and honour its great men. But when there is apostasy, one will rather not hear the strict exhortations of the past. In such days, people will belittle the same miracles which once made them proud. They will ridicule their history and despise their great men, so that the crooked and wayward children will not feel shame when the memory and image of great and mighty fathers beckon them.”