European desecularization in the 21st century

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Austria's census data permits demographers to perform analysis which indicates the secular population plateauing by 2050, or as early as 2021.[1]

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia primarily among whites.[2] See: Secular Europe and Western atheism and race

Desecularization is the process by which religion reasserts its societal influence though religious values, institutions, sectors of society and symbols in reaction to previous and/or co-occurring secularization processes.[3]

Both Europe and Asia are expected to see a period of desecularization in the 21st century (see: Asian atheism).[4][5]

On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London wrote:

I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. [6]

Concerning the future of religion/secularism in Europe, professor Eric Kaufmann wrote:

We have performed these unprecedented analyses on several cases. Austria offers us a window into what the future holds. Its census question on religious affiliation permits us to perform cohort component projections, which show the secular population plateauing by 2050, or as early as 2021 if secularism fails to attract lapsed Christians and new Muslim immigrants at the same rate as it has in the past. (Goujon, Skirbekk et al. 2006).

This task will arguably become far more difficult as the supply of nominal Christians dries up while more secularisation-resistant Muslims and committed rump Christians comprise an increasing share of the population.[7]

Concerning the future of evangelical Protestantism in Europe, in a paper entitled Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century, Kaufmann wrote:

What of European Christianity? The conventional wisdom holds it to be in free fall, especially in Western Europe. (Bruce 2002) This is undoubtedly correct for Catholic Europe, while Protestant Europe already has low levels of religious practice. Yet closer scrutiny reveals an increasingly lively and demographically growing Christian remnant. Several studies have examined the connection between religiosity - whether defined as attendance, belief or affiliation - and fertility in Europe. Most find a statistically significant effect even when controlling for age, education, income, marital status and other factors...

Moving to the wider spectrum of European Christianity, we find that fertility is indeed much higher among European women who are religious...

Today, most of those who remain religious in Europe wear their beliefs lightly, but conservative Christianity is hardly a spent force. Data on conservative Christians is difficult to come by since many new churches keep few official records. Reports from the World Christian Database, which meticulously tracks reports from church bodies, indicates that 4.1 percent of Europeans (including Russians) were evangelical Christians in 2005. This figure rises to 4.9 percent in northern, western and southern Europe. Most religious conservatives are charismatics, working within mainstream denominations like Catholicism or Lutheranism to ‘renew’ the faith along more conservative lines. There is also an important minority of Pentecostals, who account for .5% of Europe’s population. Together, charismatics and Pentecostals account for close to 5 % of Europe’s population. The proportion of conservative Christians has been rising, however: some estimate that the trajectory of conservative Christian growth has outpaced that of Islam in Europe. (Jenkins 2007: 75).

In many European countries, the proportion of conservative Christians is close to the number who are recorded as attending church weekly. This would suggest an increasingly devout Christian remnant is emerging in western Europe which is more resistant to secularization. This shows up in France, Britain and Scandinavia (less Finland), the most secular countries where we have 1981, 1990 and 2000 EVS and 2004 ESS data on religiosity...

Currently there are more evangelical Christians than Muslims in Europe. (Jenkins 2007: 75) In Eastern Europe, as outside the western world, Pentecostalism is a sociological and not a demographic phenomenon. In Western Europe, by contrast, demography is central to evangelicalism’s growth, especially in urban areas. Alas, immigration brings two foreign imports, Islam and Christianity, to secular Europe.[8]

See also: Growth of evangelical Christianity in the developed world

Atheists/agnostics in the Western World have historically not engaged in personal evangelism as far as racial minorities in their countries (see: Western atheism and race and Atheism and apathy).

Yale Daily News reported in an article entitled White Europeans: An endangered species? that "Without a major shift in the current fertility trends, industrialized Europe will see its native population decline by about three-fourths over the 21st century."[9] See also: Decline of global atheism and Global Christianity

Future of Islam in Europe and the desecularization of Europe

According to Pew Forum, by 2030 Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population.[10]

See also: Atheism vs. Islam

According to Pew Forum:

In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4% in 1990 to 6% in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population.[11]

Professor Philip Jenkins at Penn State University projects that by 2100, Muslims will be about 25% of Europe's population. Jenkins indicates that this figure does not take account divergent birthrates amongst Europe's various immigrant Christians.[12]

In April 2010, Eric Kaufmann indicated concerning the future of Islam in Europe:

I address this in some detail in the book, as well is in a recent article in the April issue of Prospect magazine here in Britain. The short answer is that I don’t foresee a Muslim-majority Europe in this century or in the next. Why? Mainly because Muslim birthrates are plunging both in Europe and the Muslim world. Already, Iran, Tunisia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and several other Muslim countries have replacement-level fertility or below. In the UK, Bangladeshi and Pakistani fertility has halved in a generation and is now under 3 children per woman. This means their long-term growth will begin to tail off. The other part of the equation is the rise of non-Muslim immigrant groups (African and West Indian Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and other Eastern faiths) who are also increasing and therefore making Europe more plural and, in the process, rendering it harder for Muslims to increase their share of the population.

That said, Muslim membership retention and in-group marriage is exceptionally high (over 90 per cent) and they are a much younger population than the host society. So they are on course for steady growth. My colleagues and I expect their fertility to fall to host levels by 2030, but they will still make up 5-15 per cent of most West European countries by 2050 and 10-25 per cent by 2100. This is a major change from the 2-6 per cent levels of today[13]

Investor's Business Daily on the flood of Muslim immigrants to Europe

Investor's Business Daily wrote in 2015 concerning a flood of Muslim immigrants to the European Union:

The European Union is bracing for as many as 800,000 mostly Muslim refugees arriving from the chaos in the Middle East this year, mainly Syria, Iraq and Eritrea.

And it may be just the beginning. Can the EU withstand such a religio-demographic earthquake? Its failure to enforce any concept of borders isn't a good sign....

Assimilation offers little hope. Parts of France — especially its notorious banlieues outside major cities like Paris — are virtual no-go zones. London's are little better. Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia all have large, unassimilated Muslim populations.

Those populations are growing. Europe isn't. As far back as 2011, the Pew Forum noted that Europe's Muslim population was expected to almost double from 30 million in 1990 to 57 million in 2030.

That's surely now an underestimate. Add to this the inevitability of jihadists slipping across porous EU borders, and Europe is in deep trouble.

Anger is welling up, and nationalist parties are spreading across the Continent. As 20th century history showed, Europe doesn't react well to social upheaval.

Can Europe survive the coming storm? Doubtful.[14]

Muslim population growth in Germany

According to the thinktank the Gatestone Institute:

Adding the 800,000 Muslim migrants who arrived in Germany in 2015, and the 240,000 who arrived in 2016, combined with the 77,000 natural increase, the Muslim population of Germany jumped by 1,117,000, to reach an estimated 6,262,000 by the end of 2016. This amounts to approximately 7.5% of Germany's overall population of 82 million.[15]

Growth of Islam in Britain

The Times of India reported concerning Britain: ""In 1983, the number of people following Islam stood at 0.6% of the population compared to a little under 5% in 2014".[16]

Projected growth of evangelical Christianity in Europe according to Operation World

See also: Growth of evangelical Christianity

Justin Long, citing statistics from Operation World states:

Europe. From 18 million today, this model projects growth to 26 million evangelicals by 2100. The annual growth rate will decline along with the falling population AGR, which is projected to hit its peak ‘low’ rate of -0.246% per annum around 2075. Since the evangelical AGR will not be as slow as the population’s, Europe will actually become more evangelical (by percentage of the population): rising from 2.5% in 2010 to 4% in 2100 in this model.[17]

Growth of French evangelical Protestant Christianity

French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about one of Europe’s most secular nations. In 2011, The number of evangelical churches increased from 769 to 2,068 in 2011.[18]

On July 12, 2012, the Christian Science Monitor reported:

French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about Europe’s most secular nation...

Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the French National Evangelical Council, found that since 1970, a new evangelical church has opened in France every 10 days. The number of churches increased from 769 to 2,068 last year.[19]

A 2009 article at the Voice of America website entitled Evangelical Churches Flourishing in Europe declared:

...Evangelical churches are booming across the region, particularly those attended by immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America...

Evangelical Christianity is flourishing in Europe. France has witnessed an eight-fold increase in Evangelical Christians during the past half century, from roughly 50,000 to 400,000....

In a country where people are a bit disappointed by traditional religion, Sinclair says, they are impressed by the way these Evangelical churches are alive and welcoming.

The churches underscore the fact that while secularization continues to progress in Europe, there has been what Sinclair calls a spiritual turning in recent years...

Majagira Bulangalire, the president of Community of Churches of African Expression of France, an umbrella group of immigrant Evangelical churches.

Bulangalire admits there have been a few problems with local authorities. But he says once they see the churches can serve their communities in a positive fashion they are very open. He says the French Interior Ministry has also been welcoming. Some Roman Catholic parishes have adopted Evangelical-style bible study classes. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, head of the Protestant Federation of France, says traditional Protestant churches are realizing they can learn from their Evangelical counterparts. [20]

See also: Immigrant evangelical churches are a fast growing movement in France

Growth of British evangelical Christianity

Some 4.5million of the UK's foreign-born population claim to have a religious affiliation and more than half are Christian. Church attendance in Greater London grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012.[21] In addition, the latest immigrants to the UK as a whole mean British Christianity is becoming more charismatic and fundamentalist.[22]

See also: British atheism and UK and secularism

Due to religious immigrants, many of whom are evangelical Christians, church attendance in Greater London grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012.[23] In 2013, it was reported that 52% of people who attended church in London attended evangelical churches.[24]

On December 14, 2009, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported:

According to the Mail Evangelical Christianity is on the rise.

Some 4.5million of the UK's foreign-born population claim to have a religious affiliation. Of these, around a quarter are Muslim while more than half are Christian – with Polish Catholics and African Pentecostals among the fastest-growing groups.

While traditional churchgoing is on the decline in the UK over the past decade, the latest immigrants mean Christianity is becoming more charismatic and fundamentalist.

'Perhaps the most significant change has been the growth of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity within migrant populations, particularly those from Africa and Latin America,' the report found.

'In Lewisham, there are 65 Pentecostal churches serving the Nigerian community, and others serving the Congolese, Ghanaian and Ivorian communities.'

Professor Mike Kenny of IPPR said: 'The research shows that recent waves of inward migration have given a boost to some of the UK's established faith communities at a time when Britain's society and culture are generally more secular, and smaller numbers of the indigenous population are regularly attending churches.

'Recent migration trends are altering the faith map of the UK. Their biggest impact is being felt in some of our largest cities: London above all, where a rich mosaic of different faith communities has come into being.'

Evangelical Christianity might be heavily African-influenced but it’s also spreading among the natives as well.[25]

See also:

Germany and the growth of evangelical Christianity

See also: Secular Europe

On March 17, 2014, the news website Deutsche Well reported that evangelical Christianity has doubled in Germany in the last 10 years.[26]

Signs pointing to reversal of secularism in the UK later in the 21st century

Many of the religious immigrants to the UK are non-white immigrants. In the United Kingdom, by the year 2050, 30 percent of the population is expected to be non-white.[27] As noted above, Yale Daily News reported in an article entitled White Europeans: An endangered species? that "Without a major shift in the current fertility trends, industrialized Europe will see its native population decline by about three-fourths over the 21st century."[28]

There are a number of other indications that secularization in Britain will reverse itself sometimes in the 21st century (see: Signs pointing towards a decline of British atheism in the 21st century).

Religious immigrants to Europe resistant to secularization

Conservative Protestants have relatively high fertility rates.[29] (Picture: Protestant church pulpit in Europe)

See also: Desecularization and Growth of global desecularization

In 2011, a paper was published entitled The End of Secularization in Europe?: A Socio-Demographic Perspective. The authors of the paper were: Eric Kaufmann - Birkbeck College, University of London; Anne Goujon - World Population Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA); Vegard Skirbekk World Population Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).[30]

An excerpt from the paper by Kaufmann, Goujon and Skirbekk:

Conservative Protestants, a much larger group than the Mormons, also benefit from relatively high fertility. Hout et al. (2001) find that three-quarters of the growth of conservative Protestant denominations against their liberal counterparts is due to fertility advantage rather than conversion.

In Europe, there has been less attention paid to fertility differences between denominations. However, several studies have discovered that immigrants to Europe tend to be more religious than the host population and — especially if Muslim—tend to retain their religiosity (Van Tubergen 2006). Though some indicators point to modest religious decline toward the host society mean, other trends suggest that immigrants become more, rather than less, religious the longer they reside in the host society (Van Tubergen 2007). All of which indicates that religious decline may fail at the aggregate level even if it is occurring at the individual level (Kaufmann 2006, 2010). This article thereby investigates the hypothesis that a combination of higher religious fertility, immigration, and slowing rates of religious apostasy will eventually produce a reversal in the decline of the religious population of Western Europe.[31]

Research indicates that among ethnic minority immigrants religion is a source of group ethnic identification which makes them more resistant to secularization.[32] In most countries, with the exception of France, Muslim immigrants have nearly 100% retention rates for the second generation.[33]

In 2010, Kaufmann reported that the rate of secularisation flattened to zero in most of Protestant Europe and France.[34]

For additional information, please see: Growth of global desecularization

Islamic creationism and resistance to assimilation

In recent years Britain, the birth place of Darwinism, has seen a large influx of Muslim immigrants. Most religious Muslims are creationists.[35] In the UK, between the years 2001 and 2009 the Muslim population increased nearly 10 times faster than the non-Muslim population.[36] See also: Islam and belief in creationism

The British newspaper The Telegraph reported in an article entitled Richard Dawkins: Muslim parents 'import creationism' into schools:

Prof Dawkins, a well-known atheist, also blamed the Government for accommodating religious views and allowing creationism to be taught in schools.

"Most devout Muslims are creationists so when you go to schools, there are a large number of children of Islamic parents who trot out what they have been taught," Prof Dawkins said in a Sunday newspaper interview.

"Teachers are bending over backwards to respect home prejudices that children have been brought up with. The Government could do more, but it doesn't want to because it is fanatical about multiculturalism and the need to respect the different traditions from which these children come."[37]

Illegal immigrants and Europe

Legal and illegal immigration of religious immigrants to Western World nations is a source of desecularization.

As far as illegal immigration to Europe, The American Interest website declares:

Securing Europe’s vast land and sea borders—a task greater than that faced by the United States along its border with Mexico—is proving exceptionally challenging for the European Union (EU)....

Traffickers use small boats to reduce the chances of being picked up by patrol boats’ radars; migrants are often dropped off on stretches of inaccessible coastline, or left to drift ashore. In the case of illegal land crossings, small trucks are used to penetrate the most porous parts of eastern or southern Europe’s borders. Penalties for this are low or non-existent all around Europe, and traffickers are rarely caught anyway. Smuggling people across Europe has become easier and more profitable than anything other criminal activity, including drugs.[38]

Central and Eastern Europe and deseculiarization

See also: Central and Eastern Europe and desecularization

Pew Research indicated in a 2017 article entitled Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe:

In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined. This is true in former communist states, such as the Russian Federation and Poland, where majorities say that being Orthodox or Catholic is important to being “truly Russian” or “truly Polish.” It is also the case in Greece, where the church played a central role in Greece’s successful struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire and where today three-quarters of the public (76%) says that being Orthodox is important to being “truly Greek.”

Many people in the region embrace religion as an element of national belonging even though they are not highly observant. Relatively few Orthodox or Catholic adults in Central and Eastern Europe say they regularly attend worship services, pray often or consider religion central to their lives. For example, a median of just 10% of Orthodox Christians across the region say they go to church on a weekly basis.

Indeed, compared with many populations Pew Research Center previously has surveyed – from the United States to Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa to Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa – Central and Eastern Europeans display relatively low levels of religious observance.

Nonetheless, the comeback of religion in a region once dominated by atheist regimes is striking – particularly in some historically Orthodox countries, where levels of religious affiliation have risen substantially in recent decades.[39]

In Eastern Europe, sharp rise in share of adults who describe themselves as Orthodox Christians

See also

Notes

  1. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  2. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  3. Religion and the State in Russia and China: Suppression, Survival and Revival by Christopher Marsh, 2011, page 11 (Christopher Marsh cites the definitions of desecularization given by Peter L. Berger and Vyacheslav Karpov)
  4. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  5. Across the Asia Pacific, the population of atheists and agnostics is shrinking
  6. 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
  7. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  8. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  9. White Europeans: An endangered species? By Trevor Wagener, Yale Daily News, February 27, 2008
  10. 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe by Conrad Hackett, Pew Forum, November 17, 2015
  11. 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe by Conrad Hackett, Pew Forum, November 17, 2015
  12. Philip Jenkins, Demographics, Religion, and the Future of Europe, Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 533, summer 2006
  13. Shall the religious inherit the earth?, 2010 Interview with Eric Kaufmann by MercatorNet
  14. Can Europe Stay Europe After Muslim Migrant Surge? Doubtful
  15. The Islamization of Germany in 2016
  16. Church of England in decline, Islam fastest growing in UK: Survey
  17. When will the world be over half evangelical? by Justin Long
  18. In a France suspicious of religion, evangelicalism's message strikes a chord
  19. In a France suspicious of religion, evangelicalism's message strikes a chord
  20. Evangelical Churches Flourishing in Europe, Voice of America website, 2009
  21. London Churchgoing and Other News
  22. I'm not surprised Evangelical Christianity is on the rise by Ed West, The Telegraph, December 14th, 2009
  23. London Churchgoing and Other News
  24. London Churchgoing and Other News
  25. I'm not surprised Evangelical Christianity is on the rise by Ed West, The Telegraph, December 14th, 2009
  26. Ghanaian pastor seeks to 're-Christianize' Germany
  27. Non-white people almost 30 per cent of population by 2050, By James Kirkup, Political Editor, The Telegraph, May 5, 2014
  28. White Europeans: An endangered species? By Trevor Wagener, Yale Daily News, February 27, 2008
  29. Religious immigrants will alter the religious landscape of Europe
  30. Religious immigrants will alter the religious landscape of Europe
  31. Religious immigrants will alter the religious landscape of Europe
  32. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  33. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  34. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  35. Hameed S (2008). "Bracing for Islamic creationism". Science 322 (5908): 1637–8.
  36. Muslim population 'rising 10 times faster than rest of society' 30 January 2009, Richard Kerbaj, The Sunday Times
  37. Richard Dawkins: Muslim parents 'import creationism' into schools, The Telegraph
  38. Europe’s Immigration Crisis
  39. Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe, Pew Research, 2017