christianity strange europe america
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I’ve posted a lot about how Christian piety in Western Europe largely faded away during the 20th century while remaining relatively robust if also declining in America, and statistics confirm these trends.

Just under a quarter of Americans now identify as religiously unaffiliated, including atheists, agnostics and the spiritually apathetic — and nonbelief in the U.S. has exponentially surged in the past few decades.

But, as I’ve also reported many times, some 70 percent of the U.S. electorate identifies as Christian and believes in God. The purpose of this post is to show how, from a European vantage the breadth and depth of American religious devotion appears curiously quaint.

A Scotsman named Ian Bruce who belongs to the Facebook group Proud Atheists recently commented on one of my posts concerning American religiosity. He wrote,

“It always seems strange to us over here, from a European perspective, that religion plays such a major social and political role in the U.S. (I’m in Scotland). Any politician who campaigned on a biblical platform here simply wouldn’t be elected and would be regarded as some kind of weirdo. We do have evangelicals, but they’re small fringe groups with no influence whatsoever. Even Ireland, for centuries dominated buy the hardline Catholic Church, has thrown off the yoke. The church hierarchy there can’t even find enough trainee clerics for their priesthood. The pedo [priest pedophilia] scandals have just accelerated the decline in numbers of ‘believers.” I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I know who’re ‘religiouis,’ and they’re mostly older and keep their nonsensical faith to themselves. Almost everyone I know is atheist. Religion’s simply not an issue. German and Scandanavian friends tell me it’s the same in their countries. ‘Murika’ [America] appears to be about a century behind the rest of the civilized world in that respect.”

Of course, millions of Europeans are still staunchly religious in one faith or another, but the trend lines are clear and those faithful comprise a fast-dwindling minority.

I see U.S. evolving toward a far more secular society that eventually will mirror that in Western Europe, and I view the transformation as a natural evolution among people growing more knowledgeable about the natural world and more skeptical of chimera by the minute.

Let’s hope.


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Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...

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